Having to describe this place to you or rather the energies here would be quite a challenge. But I can say one thing for sure – I have never been to a place with such strong energies before. There are many ways in which energies can materialize – here the energy is especially evident in dreams.
I have always been a dreamer but my dreams have taken a completely different shape and form in this place I have seen deep into my past, crossed bridges at night that were never crossed before and been shocked and amazed. And I have met many travelers who tell a similar story "a story of very vivid, strong and present dreams. And it can’t be a coincidence that so many places here have dream catchers as decoration surely they are a needed interior.
One thing for sure – this place holds a different dimension. For generations the elders here have told the young people to be careful when in nature around here. To be careful not to touch unknown objects because they might be a gateway to another dimension. There are many tales around here about people having lost days of their life without knowing where they went thinking they had been gone for 1 hour but were missing two days etc.
So when I woke up this morning at five with a very strong dream about giving birth to a boy, I was not surprised. I lay in bed for one hour and took it all in and then I decided to get up and write this article that has been on my mind for as long as I have been here. Perhaps the dream symbolized the birth of an idea or a project or maybe a foresight into the future or maybe a longing I don’t know…but the dreams are ever-present in this place.
To tell you the truth; when I first arrived here I felt really at unease with the place. I felt like someone had taken me by the legs and hung me up-side down and I couldn’t make any sense of neither myself nor the place and I was really upset and disturbed. I knew all along that it was a matter of strong energies that I had not adjusted to and thank God my Spanish course forced me to stay in this place. My initial confusion has been replaced by appreciation appreciation for being allowed to fall in tune with the place, to dream the dreams I dream and to have a chance to peep into that other dimension.
Arriving in San Pedro was by no means a surprise because I had no expectations for neither San Pedro nor Guatemala.
San Pedro de Laguna is a relatively small village (although not as small as I could wish for) on the shores of Lake Atitlan. It has 13.000 inhabitants spread out on the hillside.
Obviously San Pedro is very different from Asia where I have spent a long time. It’s much less developed than Thailand, but it is also much more traditional which has its own charm. The people here are very friendly and despite a growing tourism not jaded and unfriendly.
But don’t let this fool you San Pedro have been discovered many years ago and is not your "undiscovered paradise". It’s a growing village living from tourist, coffee and maize. It has everything from beautiful scenery, kayak trips, horse riding, restaurants, market, and internet shops to bars and drug problems.
We arrived at the end of the rainy season and thus the landscape was very damp, cloudy and misty. My feelings for the country are mixed. The people seem very nice despite the horrors of the past, the landscape is also beautiful, but the country suffers from the same problems as other developing (and developed) countries pollution. They still cook with firewood so three times a day the village of San Pedro is smoky wherever you go and it makes me long for empty spaces with neither people nor buildings just nature.
I admit though that I have had this longing for a very long time now Chiang Mai was too big and polluted for me, Copenhagen also contains too much cement for me too many people, too many cars, too much development. The older I have gotten the less of a city person I am I long for peace and quiet and stopping smoking (nearly 2 years ago) has not made me more tolerant to pollution, smoke, dust, fumes and all the other things that big cities "offer" on the contrary.
I suppose ideally I would live in a very deserted place surrounded by nature, sea, animals and with very few inhabitants I know it sounds like Alaska .however, I couldn’t live in such a cold place. I hate darkness and cold so more like the south pole than the north pole 30 degrees all year round is great J Any suggestions?
This video shows the amazing views of Lake Atitlan from Panajachel, Guatemala. It gives you glimpses of the magic surrounding the lake and of the city of Panajachel itself.
Driving from Antigua to Panajachel was quite a hairy ride. You drive along steep cliffs at a far from safe speed, but the views are amazing. Also the higher you get up, the mistier it becomes and suddenly you are surrounded by maize fields and you start imagining yourself as part of the film “Children of the corn” 🙂 scary
Arriving at Panajachel in the late afternoon when it was raining didn’t leave the best first hand impression, but shortly after it cleared up and we went to have the first view of the lake impressive. However, not nearly as impressive as it looked the morning after when we got up at 6 and went down to the lake. The sun was rising over the volcanoes in the distance, the mist lifting up from the water and the green mountain sides melting your soul. It was so beautiful and I immediately understood why this place attracts so many people.
Tina and I have just left for Guatemala in Central America. It’s the start of a trip starting in Guatemala and taking in some of the countries in Central America and South America over the next year (or so). You can see what I packed below.
I thought I’d publish a list of what I packed for the trip. This list is also a lesson in how not to travel light! At the start of our trip, we’re intending to study Spanish for some time, both in Guatemala and probably Ecuador – for this reason I’ve packed some extra books. Also, as we’ve bought one way tickets, I’ve brought ‘a bit extra’ in case we end up living and working in Latin America. My bags are now so heavy (22.6KG for the main bag, 6 KG for the small bag), I feel like a pack horse. Here’s the list:
Electronics Sony Vaio laptop computer + power supply Canon Eos 20D digital camera + recharger + case Canon Powershot G9 digital camera + recharger + case Apple iPod 40G + charger Iriver IFP 899 MP3 recorder/player + external lapel mics (for Podcasting) Mini Sony Walkman speakers 1 LED head-torch (+ 2 spare Lithium batteries) 1 mini wind-up torch 160 GB external drive 1 Nokia mobile phone + charger 4 spare memory cards 4 spare Panasonic batteries for Iriver MP3 player 3 travel plug adaptors
Miscellaneous items Roll-top waterproof bag Box Earthoria Business cards 5 CD-ROMs in case with important software 2 pens Camera cleaning tissues and blower 1 sleeping bag (comfortable to about 6 degrees C) 1 cotton sleeping sheet 1 extra light trek towel 4 pairs of ear plugs 1 eye mask 1 large padlock and keys (for room doors) 2 mini padlocks and keys for rucksack Rucksack wire net security mesh protector Rucksack waterproof rain cover 1 Money Belt 1 Leather wallet 1 Swiss Army pen-knife 1 small key-ring thermometer
Books Spanish Dictionary Spanish Verb Tables 3 x Novels Footprint South American Handbook 2009 Canon G9 Canon User Guide A4 pad of paper
Toiletries & medical supplies 1 toiletries bag 2 bottles insect repellant with DEET 2 small deodorant bottles 1 Gillette Mach 3 razor 8 spare razor blades 1 small shaving foam canister 1 extra small shaving oil canister 40 plasters Nivea Factor 30 sun lotion 1 comb Radox shower gel Travel size shampoo bottle Mini pocket tissues Migraleve migraine relief tablets 20 Aspirin tablets 20 Ibuprofen tablets 1 tube Antihistamine cream 1 small bottle Iodine 1 packet water purification tablets 6 weeks of Nicotine replacement therapy patches
With all this Spanish study floating around in my head at the moment, I thought I’d mention an interesting article about language acquisition written by Timothy Ferris, author of the The 4-hour Work Week.
Effectiveness, adherence, and efficiency refer to the "what", "why", and "how" of learning a target language, respectively. In simple terms, you first decide what to learn, based on usage frequency (priority); you then filter materials based on your likelihood of continued study and review, or adherence (interest); lastly, you determine how to learn the material most efficiently (process).
He then goes on to explain that the following words are the 100 most common written words in English, and that this is generally applicable to other languages. The first 25 of the these words make up about 1/3 of all printed material in English. The first 100 comprise 1/2 of all written material, and the first 300 make up about 65% percent of all written material in English.
In other words, focus on these for the first few weeks (along with the most common spoken words, listen below), and you’ll be making a great start to your language learning.
1. the 2. of 3. and 4. a 5. to 6. in 7. is 8. you 9. that 10. it 11. he 12. was 13. for 14. on 15. are 16. as 17. with 18. his 19. they 20. I 21. at 22. be 23. this 24. have 25. from 26. or 27. one 28. had 29. by 30. word 31. but 32. not 33. what 34. all 35. were 36. we 37. when 38. your 39. can 40. said 41. there 42. use 43. an 44. each 45. which 46. she 47. do 48. how 49. their 50. if 51. will 52. up 53. other 54. about 55. out 56. many 57. then 58. them 59. these 60. so 61. some 62. her 63. would 64. make 65. like 66. him 67. into 68. time 69. has 70. look 71. two 72. more 73. write 74. go 75. see 76. number 77. no 78. way 79. could 80. people 81. my 82. than 83. first 84. water 85. been 86. call 87. who 88. oil 89. its 90. now 91. find 92. long 93. down 94. day 95. did 96. get 97. come 98. made 99. may 100. part
The 100 Most Common Spoken Words in English
1. a, an 2. after 3. again 4. all 5. almost 6. also 7. always 8. and 9. because 10. before 11. big 12. but 13. (I) can 14. (I) come 15. either/or 16. (I) find 17. first 18. for 19. friend 20. from 21. (I) go 22. good 23. goodbye 24. happy 25. (I) have 26. he 27. hello 28. here 29. how 30. I 31. (I) am 32. if 33. in 34. (I) know 35. last 36. (I) like 37. little 38. (I) love 39. (I) make 40. many 41. one 42. more 43. most 44. much 45. my 46. new 47. no 48. not 49. now 50. of 51. often 52. on 53. one 54. only 55. or 56. other 57. our 58. out 59. over 60. people 61. place 62. please 63. same 64. (I) see 65. she 66. so 67. some 68. sometimes 69. still 70. such 71. (I) tell 72. thank you 73. that 74. the 75. their 76. them 77. then 78. there is 79. they 80. thing 81. (I) think 82. this 83. time 84. to 85. under 86. up 87. us 88. (I) use 89. very 90. we 91. what 92. when 93. where 94. which 95. who 96. why 97. with 98. yes 99. you 100. your
In this podcast we give you an update of our housing situation, having moved out of the home stay and into a wonderful new house by the lake, we visit the cemetery during a festival for the dead, and discuss how our Spanish studies are going. We finish the podcast with a brief chat about some of the strange energies and mysteries surrounding Lake Atitlan. We’ll post more details of these here in the next few days.
During my six weeks of Spanish classes in San Pedro, some of the things I’ve discussed with my teacher have included the myths and legends surrounding Lake Atitlan. I’ve re-written a few of them below.
Seven or eight years ago, a French tourist in San Pedro with his family told his wife that he was going across Lake Atitlan for the day to visit Panajachel. After a few hours he telephoned his wife, and rather cryptically told her "I’m in a beautiful place, I’m surrounded by flowers and amazing plants and have an amazing view across the lake". His wife said he sounded elated, and she presumed he had changed his plans and decided to climb the San Pedro volcano instead of going to Panajachel.
After a few hours when he’d still not returned, she began to worry. When he also didn’t return that night, she notified the authorities. After a couple of days there was still no sign of him, and the authorities sent out helicopters and specially trained sniffer dogs to look for him. The San Pedro villagers also helped in the search for him, but after several days of extensive searching there was still no sign of him, and strangely, even the sniffer dogs hadn’t picked up a single trace.
Several years on, the locals talk of his disappearance as though the volcano opened up and swallowed him up. Local folklore talks of doorways to an ‘alternate dimension’ in the countryside surrounding the lake here, and when children are young, they are warned not to touch or go near any objects they come across in the countryside that seem ‘out of place’, as they could be gateways to this mysterious dimension.
The woodcutter’s story
In San Pedro there’s an elderly man with an interesting story from his youth. It happened about 40 years ago, and his experience has now passed into local folklore.
When he was young, he walked a few hours from home into a deserted forest near Lake Atitlan, where he stopped and began felling trees for firewood. Feeling weary after a couple of hours, he stopped to rest for a while, and placed his axe carefully on the lush grass covering the area in which he was working. When he went to pick his axe up again to resume work, it was nowhere to be found.
Utterly perplexed by this, he hunted for his axe for a couple of hours but was forced to give up as nightfall was approaching and he was some distance from San Pedro. He walked back to the village, and upon entering the house was startled to find his friends and extended family all gathered in his house. "Where have you been?!" they asked anxiously, "We’ve been so worried we’ve hunted everywhere but there was no sign of you!"
The woodcutter replied rather sheepishly that he’d lost his axe and had been hunting for it for a couple of hours, which was why he was a bit late home. "But you’ve been gone two nights!" they replied.
The woodcutter had no recollection of the time he had missed, and the next day returned to the spot he’d been cutting wood. The axe was back exactly where he’d placed it, and everything was the same except the grass that had previously covered the area was no longer there.
The Atitlan attraction
For many years locals in San Pedro have wondered why so many people come to Lake Atitlan and fail to leave. Since the 1960s Lake Atitlan has been a Mecca for hippie types, and there are countless stories of people coming here for a week, and remaining forever. It’s not hard to attribute this fatal attraction to the natural beauty of the place, but there’s something else here, an indescribable magnetism and energy.
There’s a local myth that attempts to explain the Lake Atitlan magnetism, and it goes back many centuries to the time of the Spanish Conquistadors’ arrival in Guatemala
When the Spanish first arrived in Lake Atitlan they were camping somewhere around what later became Panajachel, when one of the young soldiers set eyes on a local Mayan girl washing clothes in the lake. Transfixed by her beauty, but fearing there was no way she would consider the advances of a Spaniard, he concocted a plan to win her over. He visited a local witch and asked her to cast a spell on a gold ring, which would ensure that she would find him irresistibly attractive.
The spell worked and the young Mayan woman fell in love with the Spanish soldier. However, a short while later, the soldier’s commander found out about the affair, and ordered her execution. Standing over her body, the commander saw the ring, and stole it from the body. A short while later, he started feeling irresistibly attracted to the young soldier, and fearing that the ring had something to do with his developing homosexual tendencies, he took a boat to the middle of Lake Atitlan, and disgusted, hurled the ring in.
The story goes that through the years the ring has passed its powers onto the lake, working its spell on all who venture here