3 Months in Guatemala: first snow bird experience

Amazingly, the 3 months that seemingly would never end are almost up. At the end of this week, we will be heading back to Georgia to check up on our land and see how the plants survived the winter as well as continuing renovations. I did not know what to expect coming to Guatemala, particularly Lake Atitlan region for the whole winter season. I needed rest, I needed to meet other like-minded people and, most importantly, to devote some time to myself-whether it be reading, learning, writing, dancing or getting to know another culture, I was eager to get outside of my comfort zone and experience something new.

Looking back, I have come to realize that my experience on Lago Atitlan has been a predominantly positive one. Despite the obvious sanitation and comfort drawbacks, battling amoeba and then a flu for what seemed like weeks on end, Guatemala and San Marcos in particular will always have a special place in my heart. It is no wonder that this place is home to more retreats and workshop offerings per capita than anywhere I’ve ever been to (yes, it might even beat Sedona!).

The place truly has a special energy and while the conditions may not be ideal, the place itself beckons you to re-connect with yourself. And that is exactly what we did. First, by attending as many kirtan events as Paul and the Hanuman Project would offer, learning Chi Nei Tsang abdominal massage techniques from a well-known practitioner, culminating with a one month long “Moon Course” retreat offered by the Las Piramides. The latter I am still in process of. Seemingly basic at first, I believe there were transformative processes that took place over this time. For one, the sheer amount of ideas and inspiration that occurred over such a short period of time is no coincidence, yet I am grasping for words that would adequately describe this experience. Perhaps I might attempt so in a follow-up post, but for now I would like to go over the highlights of the last 3 months, from a snow-bird perspective:

  1. No snow. None. Not even a drop of rain.
  2. Wearing flip-flops all day every day. Dirty feet > frosty feet
  3. Experiencing my first “non-commercial” Christmas and Holiday season. No malls, no crowds, no christmas trees, no pressure to buy unneeded gifts (though we did exchange a festival ticket bought for each other for later this year).
  4. Taking a break from driving for 3 months is pretty great!
  5. Relatively cheap and abundant local produce, especially tomatoes, avocados and pineapples
  6. Our cat loved being able to play and explore outside every day (despite the stray dogs) versus being couped up in the house for months on end
  7. Learning to be content with little and dropping expectations
  8. Meeting other travelers, most of them the new age nomad types
  9. Making friends with local folk and getting to know their personal stories
  10. Hanging out in place like these, all day every day…delicious coffee, snacks and free Wi-Fi. I am fairly certain I could move to San Marcos if only for Shambalah alone. Creativity simply oozes here and you feel like you’re just moments away from yet another grand idea.Shambalah Cafe. San Marcos

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