San Marcos Living: Joys and Giardia

We’ve only been in San Marcos for a week now out of the planned eight.
The town has its charm for sure. Take Cafe Circles, for example. Not only can I order in English (it’s run by a young English girl), their coffee is decent, prices are good, but best of all, the semi-private lounge areas, separated by bamboo walls. The vibe is relaxed and unhurried. Free wi-fi makes you want to linger for as long as the battery will allow.

perfect volcano views
perfect volcano views

My favourite things:

Going to San Pedro market and bargaining for my fruit and veg like a local, then getting a weekly supply for under 10$. Enjoying the lake view from: the dock while waiting for a boat, the meditation platform at the Mahadevi Ashram, while walking from one village to another, during sunset kirtan at Hostal Del Lago. Getting a massage from a well-trained professional for 25$ (1 hr;, the fact that you can wear harem pants and a yoga top with your hair in a top knot and you fit right in; the fact that you can do as much or as little as you want; having random conversations in English with random yogis on a park bench; the fact that when people smile at you, they smile from their heart.

 
My not-so-favourite things:
The locals shooting firecrackers at all hours day and night, some so close to the house, they sounds like bombs going off. Stray dogs everywhere, leaving their “calling cards” wherever they please. The fact that no matter how good or new the homes look, they will always have large gaps in the roof, mortar, window frames, and as a result, plenty of creatures of all kinds! (ok, not snakes, but spiders, tiny scorpions, ants of all types and sizes and so on); hot showers are emphasized because it truly is a luxury; Wi-Fi is available, but is slower and less reliable than San Pedro and Panajachel.

And lastly, and that’s a biggie: water quality. Imagine living on a beautiful like, when it’s hot and sunny out, but you can’t swim in it? Well, you could, but… Here’s the ugly truth: rather than implementing innovative technologies such as individual waste management, the municipality encourages the locals to either a) have no plumbing, resulting in untreated surface runoff directly into the lake or b) invest in old-school largely ineffective water treatment plants that release huge amounts of phosphates and nitrates in the lake, resulting in algae bloom that not only compromises the water quality and disrupts the ecosystem, but is also responsible for a particular type of Cyanobacteria s, which is thriving on all the nutrient runoff, causing eutrophication and producing  liver-damaging toxins. And if that wasn’t enough, the ever-present Giardia Lamblia is ready to raise its head at any moment, lurking in any potentially contaminated food and water sources.

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Algae bloom in San Pedro
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