Saturday, March 3, 2012

Life in San Pedro

San Pedro and the whole Lake Atitlan community is quite wonderful. Each town has it’s own vibe – from San Marcos, Pana, Santa Cruz, San Juan, Cerro de Oro to San Pedro. I’ve tried to go explore around the lake when I can. I’ll write more about the other towns on the lake in another post, but you really do have to come see for yourself, the lake just brings you things and makes some amazing experiences happen.  I’ve settled quite nicely into my life in San Pedro, Spanish lessons in the morning and volunteering in the afternoon a few days a week. I will admit I am very excited to explore more of Central America starting sometime next week though.

Life in San Pedro is simple, great and very low stress. San Pedro is a pueblo of about 13,000 people, so it’s not all that small. There are also two languages spoken in San Pedro, Tzutijil and Spanish. Religion is a big part of the community here. The majority are Catholic or Evangelical, with a small group of individuals that are still traditional mayas. I had the opportunity to participate in a couple Mayan ceremonies this past weekend in San Marcos in celebrations for the mayan new year. My host family practices evangelism, yet they do speak the traditional mayan language tzutijil.
Mayan Ceremony in San Marcos
Interesting experiences I’ve come across:
1st meal was at taco bell in a mall – mainly because my Spanish was extremely limited, but a Mexican pizza tastes the same in guate
Shower was dripping – come back a few days later and the shower was gone. Literally the shower head and piping was removed (piping and wiring was all external since the homes are concrete I guess, get a nice little shock sometimes ha)
Mashed potatoes for breakfast
Random “fireworks” – not a fan of those noise bombs!
No running water sometimes (only twice for about 24 hour each but it’s just something we take for granted!)
Lack of toilet seats – yes normal toilets but for some reason the seat is mia (are they not sold together as a package??)
Guate Time - In attempt to go to Pana I had to wait an hour and pay a bit extra just to get the direct boat to leave (have to wait unil there are 13 people to leave).
Outdoor Yoga - absolutely stunning...until a bird poos on your back! Reminded me of Emily in middle school!

I love:
The beauty – Lake Atitlan is a gem, no doubt.
People – very warm & friendly.  Even though they don’t have much they will always open their home and offer you what they can. Everybody greets each other “hola, buenas, buenas noches”…Something I wish we had in the US instead of silence or entranced by our mobile phones.
La Comida! – Teresa’s tostadas and tacos are by far my favorite
Los Thermales – Think outdoor hot tub, filled with fresh hot water heated from the volcanoes
Tons of outdoor activities – ziplining, kayaking, paragliding, hiking, cliff jumping
My friends and family here :)
Los Thermales with Kieran
Me with the little chitlens at Ja'Bel'Ya where I volunteered - San Pedro
Papusas for dinner - maize pancakes with cheese and mashed potatoes inside, then cabbage and red sauce on top. yum!
Sunrise in San Pedro
Traditional hair wrap :) Now if only I could reproduce this...
Lunch in San Pedro with friends from the US! Dustin, Jenny, Jason, Rachel, Tony and I - awesome afternoon. Check mr. tony lucca out on The Voice this season!
Zipline near Santa Clara - really awesome view while 200m above the ground
Out at Buddha in San Pedro with my buddies. Woody, Daniel, Steve & Thierry.
Never having fun...
Living with the Cholotio Gonzalez family has been really wonderful, but I have struggled at times. Obviously with the language barrier, but I also forgot that moms worry a lot. I have been on my own for 8 years now, with nobody to report when, where and what I’m up to each day. I tend to be an extremely independent person as well, but I’m really happy to be here. The family is very warm and Teresa is so sweet and caring. Teresa’s traditional food is so yummy – tamales, arroz con leche, arroz con chocolat, tostada, papusas. Delish!
Teresa, Rosa and Me (yep that's me in traditional dress)
Chema, Victor, Checha, Myself, Teresa y Rosa - all with our SF t-shirts on!

As for the language barrier, it’s been getting better poco a poco (little by little). The more lessons I’ve taken the more my Spanish has improved – it’s just making myself use it that can be hard. & My family at times has tried to sneak in teaching me a few Tzutijil words, I laugh and tell them I can only learn one language at a time! In the beginning some great ways to get around the language barrier were with games – memory, jenga, connect 4 and backgammon were fun. Chema was also nice enough to draw me some pictures on napkins when we weren’t quite connecting:

At this point in By this time I’ve actually finished my time in San Pedro and am moving onto my next immersion in Costa Rica. Yoga Immersion. As I said the lake brings you experiences. I was actually just in search of a Yoga retreat and not a Yoga Teacher Training (YTT) but I happened to stumble across my South Carolinian YTT instructor’s, Ashley Ludman, blog. Come to find out Ashley was on the lake! But for only one more day. We set up time to meet in Pana the next day before Ashley headed down to Costa Rica. Butterflies and excitement about the idea of this training were in full gear and I knew it was the right path to take. We’ve come full circle by now and I’ll be at the Costa Rica Yoga Spa from March 10-31st for the YTT. Wow!

I'll continue to add my pictures to the Picasa Album:

Lago de Atitlan

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