Dawn breaks. Lake Atitlán surfaces grey haze. Beatific bonzes beam on beds. Chakras shine on urinating man. It is too early. I lie in bed. I read The Floating Brothel: The Extraordinary True Story of an Eighteenth-Century Ship and Its Cargo of Female Convicts. Heavenly guardians sneak glimpses over my shoulder.
A bell bongs. It is breakfast. It is 9 o’clock. Meal times are rigid. Pranayogic power-lifters queue for kiwi. Papaya and banana provide pulp and savour. Granola and yoghurt are texture and taste.
The breakfast is excellent. The coffee is cryptic. It is caffeinated. We eat outside. Flies swarm. I swat. I think about reincarnation as a dipteran. I judge that mediocre karma. You could do worse. You could come back as Halicephalobus mephisto. I swat. Flies swarm. Sun sears.
We walk west. We wobble on stilted duckboards. We peer through clear water below our duckboards. Metres down wall-tops glimmer. Lake Atitlán fills a caldera. It is endorheic. Rain falls in the caldera. The lake rises. Drought comes. The lake falls. Cycles are irregular. They are measured in decades and centuries. Mayan ruins lie hundreds of metres down.
The lake rises. It has risen many metres in the last decade. Rickety duckboards link lakefront properties. Below the water ex-lawns linger. The duckboards end. The path skirts high waters. It climbs through rocks.
Jason and Alison confer. They think the path is above us. A pine wood clings to steep slopes. Jason scrambles up unstable pyroclastics. He finds a path. He is high above us. We climb. Luna fares well. She has four legs.
We turn along the path. We clear the pine wood. The sun blisters. The lake spreads out beneath us. Lake surface greys to nothing. The horizon is haze.
We walk. Walls and hedges cut off the view. Gardens lie green unseen above and below. The path winds and weaves. Closed doors left and right maintain discretion.
The path drops through gardens left and right. We reach the lakeshore. We turn along a wooden wharf. Fiberglass boats float fettered. Men haul and heave. Cement sacks come ashore. Santa Cruz La Lagun metabolises.
We enter a lakeside bistro. La Iguana Perdita has a toilet. It is time. Laurie and Jenny disappear in turn.
We are weary. A fibreglass launch takes us to San Marcos. It bumps and slams. Jenny holds her camera high. She films. I try looking through my viewfinder. My camera bumps and slams. My eyebrow will recover.
San Marcos is Hippie Haven. Alison and Jason stayed here for a month. That was two years ago. They stayed at Las Piramides. It is a spiritual centre. They show us the house they lived in. It is surrounded by bananas and papayas. It is surrounded by vegetation being exuberant.
We wander through the village. It is dedicated to spirit. Notice boards peel tantric rituals and reiki. Iridology and naturopathy could be yours. Medicinal plants and tantric yoga. Marta gives theraputic acupressure massage. Tjka Sonko is a healer in Paris actually in San Marcos . He offers Chineese medicine initiation course. He offers Specials Healings Theraipes. And more. Visit your Futur.
We get our first sight of hippies. They obey a strict dress code.
We climb uphill. The Ganesh store is new. It was not here in Alison and Jason’s day. It has Indian saris with pictures of Hindu gods. It has a Galactic Time Map. It is a practical map to get in sync with the galactic fractals of time. We are deep in fruitloopery country.
It has a book exchange. Faded colours fur into fuzzy latte. Unwanted books beg to be swapped for others less readable still. Jeffery Archer. Dan Brown. Harlan Coben. I cannot find Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Or Anne Enright. But I see Ethical Issues in Business. I wonder what it is doing in this shop. Then I see the subtitle. A Philosophical Approach. I am enlightened.
Jenny buys Paolo santo. Apparently you burn it. It clears bad energy. It provides spiritual protection. It brings good luck. It is Bursera graveolens.
The Guatemalan San Marcos lies above us. Mayans know the lake rises.
We hear drumming. We walk uphill. It gets louder. It is a children’s marching band. They stop practising and disband.
Loana of the Shell Tribe walks past. She wears colourful boots and a loincloth. Perhaps it is Barbarella. I should consult the galactic fractals to be sure.
We wander to the lakeshore. We take a fibreglass collectivo to San Pedro. As we unload I see Loanarella’s loincloth. She walks away in colourful boots.
We slope uphill. We level and levitate. We find an Italian restaurant with internet access. It is late. We order late lunch. Men drink cold beer. Women sip pulpy colours. We internet.
Laurie finds the BBC website. He wants to know what social class we belong to. He subjects us to tests. I am technical middle class. I am none the wiser.
The owner has better things to do. Places to go, stuff like that. He throws us out at 15:00.
We forage for foccacio. We find avocadoes and bread and tomatoes. We source rum and marshmallows. Laurie finds a cash machine. Tuk-tuks travail up straight-up streets.
We assemble slowly on the waterfront. We wait for a collectivo to come.
Alison and Jason and I sit in a tumbledown café. We order coffee. The man wanders off up the street. We wait. Coffee comes. The launch arrives. We gulp dreadful coffee. We board. Loanarella sits in the middle. The crush surrounds her. We are heavily overloaded. Water laps at freeboard.
We chug over the lake. Wavetops sweep past. They are centimetres below swamp-level. The collectivo droops and swoops. It labours heavily. It rolls from side to side. We chug from jetty to jetty. People climb on at each jetty. The only space is on the roof. We pick up more people. The roof is full. The boat slews from crest to trough. It struggles back, and thuds.
Alison, Laurie and Jenny feel seasick. We ponder collapsed roofs. We think about escape. It would not happen.
We arrive at Iguana. A,L and J have had enough. We disembark. We leave Loanarella and her loincloth. We do not say farewell. Galactic fractals will have to deal.
We walk up through garden walls and closed doors. We walk up over the shoulder. We walk into the ravine. We duckboard. I take pictures of drowned trees. We walk back to Villa Somaya.
We hot tub. Not Wendy is there. Not Wendy is not Bendy Wendy. She is Dizzy Lizzie. Or maybe I mix my bendies with my dizzies. I am easily confused. Passion Flower arrives. When A, J, L, J arrive, Not Wendy or Wendy leaves. Passion flower like wow floaty explains passion flower ceremony. We groove.
We dine on guacamole. We eat on Alison and Jason’s balcony. One bottle of rum seems not to be enough. Jason tries to get another. He returnes bereft. All is silent in the world below.
I go to bed. I compose a ditty.
When I’m feeling somewhat glum
I’ll pick up my shaman’s drum
And with my thumb I’ll softly strum
Om mane padme hum.
Tagged: , Guatemala , one a day , Atitlan