So we just got checked into our hotel at Lake Atítlan and I have some time to write this blog really quick before we head out to dinner later tonight. Let's rewind to this morning.
Our original departure time for Lake Atítlan was scheduled for 7:30am but it got pushed back to 5:45am because apparently there were supposed to be a lot of protests on the highway. I'm not quite sure what the people were protesting about but Erika was telling us that these protests are fairly common and can shut down highways for very long periods of time. So it made sense for us to leave earlier in order to get a good head start. It was pretty cold in the morning but once we got on the bus we all pretty much knocked out until we stopped on the road to check out an amazing view of some of the volcanoes in the area.
After snagging some pics, we all got back on the bus and made the trip over to Chichicastenango to visit Doña Sebastiana. She's a traditional Mayan style healer that specializes in the use of natural herbs and other forms of healing such as massage and prayer. When she first welcomed us in, we all sat in a circle and sang a song about how being together in a circle symbolizes equality between all of us. Then we talked a lot about the health issues that she's seen in the last couple of years. She said that it's becoming more common to see teenagers self-harming and suicide is becoming increasingly prevalent, even though it really hasn't been a problem in the last 5 years. Infidelity and domestic violence are two issues that she's also seen pretty frequently. One story that I found particularly amazing was the story of how she was approached by a couple that was having trouble having a baby. The couple had been trying for seven years to have a child but were unsuccessful until they visited Doña. She massaged both the husband and the wife for 7 days and they were able to successfully have a baby shortly after their visit to her. And as a thanks, the couple is flying Doña out to France as a thank you because the baby had just turned one. While these stories were amazing, I got to experience her skills first hand. She asked our group if anyone has had a cough or has had trouble breathing lately, and I told her that I'd had a persistent cough for about 2 weeks. She responded to this by saying that she could tell by looking at my face that I looked stuffed up. So she told me to lay down and she proceeded to massage my face, my neck, my chest, and gave me some type of fresh herbs to inhale. I focused on my breathing and after she was done, I truly felt that I was able to actually breathe deeper and I felt more open. Truly amazing. She also gave me this ointment-like paste that she told me to put on my neck before sleeping. I actually ended up trying it the first night and it was really cool and soothing! Last, she also read our "nahuales," which are basically Mayan horoscopes (kinda). She told me that I'm very respectful and appreciative of what my ancestors did for me and that I'm one with nature. Both of those are very true, which is very interesting because she told me that only knowing my birthday. I am really appreciative of everything that my parents and their parents have done to ensure that I could have the life that I'm having right now. And I absolutely love being in nature because I truly feel relaxed and free.
After saying bye to Doña, we stopped by this hotel close to the Chichicastengo market to eat lunch. The entrance to the hotel was very pretty as it had a fountain, some nice flowers and greenery, and two beautiful parrots just chilling on their perch. I was really hungry by the time lunch came so I pretty much devoured everything that was put in front of me. The only thing that I really wasn't a fan of was the goat cheese that they paired with the beans. It was a little too strong for my taste, but nevertheless lunch made me very happy. Following lunch, we spent about an hour exploring the largest market in Central America. I didn't buy anything but Kurun and Giulia were trying their best to bargain and get some good deals. I took some portraits of some mothers with their children on their backs and I get some good shots of some of the things that they were selling. The market truly was huge, and I wouldn't be surprised if people have gotten lost in there before.
After exploring for a bit, we all re-boarded the bus and finally drove over to our hotel in Panajachel. The hotel is actually really cute and the rooms are really nice! Kurun and I are sharing a room and the showers are HOT and have good water pressure. The shower in our host family's house in Xela is pretty cold and doesn't really have good water pressure so the shower in the hotel was a godsend. Really makes me appreciate the simple things in life such as a nice, warm shower. We're about to go grab dinner as a big group and hit up some bars and go dancing after so I'm gonna wrap up this blog here. Today has been really tiring but also really exciting! -Scott