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Soy Guatemalteca

Lake of hope and second chances...

sunny 65 °F

My host family is also hosting two other students. The first, Ursula, is from Colorado and a student and University of Denver. She is 31 and further along in her life path than me, but very similar interests and ticks. Tristan, is from Taiwan, and a traveler of Central America. We each live with our host family in different ¨habitaciones¨ or rooms. There are cold concrete floors, and minimal surroundings, but it is sufficient and easily considerable high class livin´ in Central America.

Ursula and I went on a hike to El Lago de Chikobal (Chikobal Lake) with a Mayan tour guide, Carlos. I was apprehensious, but eventually decided to go despite having to get up at 6 AM. The hike to Chikobal would reveal a crater with a lake in the middle. It also included a chance to see a volcanic eruption a few miles in the distance, but within perfect sight. It took about 2 hours to hike up to the volcanic eruption sight. Then we descended over 550 awkward stairs until we reached the crater. We traveled at a very very slow pace and with canes (totally my fault and lack of health, despite veganism :) ). In my defense, it was very steep over 45 degree angle and very uneven the entire way. Slippery rocks and uneven crushy dirt were all that we tread upon.

The tour guide mentioned at the start that the crater-lake was sacred. "It is necessary to think positive thoughts on the way up" he said. If there was anything in your life of particular ailment think on it positively and know it will go away. It is no longer needed. Whether it is anxiety, fear, pain, lack of money, or anything that you may need help with, give it up and it will be taken care of.

The lake itself is considered sacred, and therefore, you cannot swim in it. However, you can put your hands in it and essentially ¨wash away¨ your imperfections. I brought along my own. The tradition is you stand in a specific direction toward the sun rising against your forehead and you pray and give away your imperfections.. There I stood, arms outstretched, eyes closed and complete openness. I gave it away. All of it.

After that, Carlos, Ursula and I continued around the lake. It was beautiful. An absurd fog crept in and made it cold and difficult to see anywhere, but upon shore. The experience was about to turn surreal. We walked a little further, I moved slowly toward the water and Ursula and Carlos followed upon the beach sand. I dipped down and placed my hands in the water, only to feel utmost relief and spiritual connection with everything worldly and otherworldly. At the water´s edge there were a whole bunch of dead animals, a hummingbird, a fish, and two butterflies. This made me question the legitimacy of the water bringing only good. But, I was then reminded "That which gives, also takes away". We should be respectful of life and second chances.

We continued on down the lake, and out of the fog came a group of around 20 people. They were all seated or standing on the beach close to the water or near fires. They had Calla lilies, statues, crosses, and candles. These group of people were the Mayan Mam, a group of Catholics. They were celebrating the feast of the Virgen of Guadalaupe in prayer and chants. We stopped and thought it would be time to push on within a few minutes, but were suprisedly welcomed. Ursula, Carlos, and I knelt down next to the fire behind the Mams. I began to pray. A few of the women brought us over some tamales and Mayan rum. It was cultural acceptance, it was wanting to share. This was no luck. Something brought me to that exact point in time, to share with those specific people, and to get rid of all my woes. I needed this, I wanted it more.

Posted by sjcarsk 16:36 Archived in Guatemala Tagged backpacking

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