Thomas has already written about studying at the Cooperative – so I will concentrate on telling you a bit about my personal experience studying Spanish one-on-one.
I also study with the Cooperative and my teacher’s name is Marlon. Marlon is 9 years younger than me, but this is usually not the case. Most teaches are around mid 30s and have many years experience teaching Spanish.
Marlon, on the contrary, is an artist and an intellectual and have studied Art at the university in Guatemala city.
I really like studying with Marlon because he has A LOT of patience. He never makes a face when I repeat the same mistake for the 10th time and is always mentally present for all 4 hours we spend together every day.
Having your “own” private teacher is great. He will correct me every-time I make a mistake and we have gotten to know each other really well. He tells me stories (in Spanish) from his life and I tell him stories (in Spanish) from my life.
This video is a short video tour of San Pedro la Laguna on the shores of Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. It includes the streets, the docks, the shops, hostels, volcano, lake views and center of town.
San Pedro La Laguna is a small lakeside town on the shores of Lake Atitlan (Lago de Atitlan) in the highlands of Guatemala. It has a population of about 13,000 and is populated predominantly by indigenous Tz’utujiil people. There are about 100,000 Tz’utujiil speakers living in various towns and villages around Lake Atitlan.
Since the 1960s travelers began to discover the place, and some of them have never left. There seem to be three types of foreigners in San Pedro at any one time: Firstly the long term hippie ex-pats, secondly the Spanish language students who often stay with local families and don’t go out much, and thirdly the hedonists/party people who come here to party and take drugs.
San Pedro is one of the cheapest places to stay around Lake Atitlan and a good base for tours of the other villages around the lake. It’s easy to reach Chichicastenango, Solola, Santiago Atitlan, San Marcos, Panajachel, Santa Clara, San Juan & Santa Cruz by boat or bus from San Pedro. Links
To find out more about our personal experiences living and studying in San Pedro, please follow the links below:
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
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.