Guatemala, Travels
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Guatemala III – My month in San Marcos

Looking out over the beautiful lake and the mountains, and following the shifting scenarios of the day from this elevated point is amazing. It’s also very peaceful.

Gua_SM_flowerview_webThat is when the villagers don’t use the loud speaker system they do seemed to love, especially at 7 o’clock on Sunday mornings, playing music or talking like mad. I never did get the hang of what this is all about.

Gua_SM_workview_webI love writing and occasionally pausing to look out over the volcano and the lake, where the fishermen are out on their shallow boats at the crack on dawn every day.

Though after the initial thrill it’s dawning on me that my wish of living in nature is not as easy as I thought. To pop down to the village isn’t a task one does lightly every day. It’s just too hard to negotiate the trek up and down the mountain. So I settle into a routine to go down every other day and to bring with me enough food for the day after.

Gua_SM_food_webI find a really nice restaurant that becomes my main supplier for lunches and take away dinners, the restaurant Fé. Here is one of my favourite dishes, chicken with plum and ginger sauce.

I discover that my house doesn’t have walls all they way to the ceiling. There is an open partition only covered by a net and bamboo sticks. This means that when it’s cold outside it’s cold inside. When it’s windy outside the windy comes inside too. And when I’m staying here it’s unusually cold for the season. El Niño is exceptionally strong this year. Although the days are warm and pleasant, the nights are cold. Some nights the temperature creep down to around 10 degrees Celsius and it’s freezing! I sleep fully clothed and wrap a sweater around my head as well as a scarf. Even though I fold the duvet double, it isn’t sufficient. I go down to the village and buy myself a colourful quilt as well. Now I get why the fabric of the traditional clothing here are so thick!

The cold nights have the effect of totally draining my energy, and it takes longer and longer time in the mornings to get myself going. One morning I wake up early from a noise and find a big mouse running along the ledge above the windows. And shortly after that there is a huge squirrel jumping on the rafters in the ceiling. I’m so happy that I’m lying under a big mosquito net. Well I wished to be close to nature after living in big cities for a long time. And I got what I wished for didn’t I? Nevertheless I’m hugely relieved when Carmelio, one of the guardians, repairs the hole where they probably got in.

Gua_SM_kitchen_webThis is my kitchen, housed in a small hut at the other end of the garden. I share this area with the guardians. As there is a little bedroom beside the kitchen, they take turns to stay here at night to guard the property. In daytime they tend to the garden, so the property is never left unattended. I feel secure that they are here and I enjoy practising my non existent Spanish chatting with them as well. As the kitchen is very basic my cooking is reduced to warming up take away dishes and making breakfast and simple food such as soups for lunch. Towards the end I only have one cooked meal per day apart from breakfast. This and the exercise of walking to the village and climbing up the steps make me fit.

Gua_SM_sink_webA traditional Guatemalan stone kitchen sink, that normally doubles up as a place where the women do their laundry as well. It must weigh a ton and I dare not think about how it came up here.

Gua_SM_street_webGua_SM_market_webGua_SM_woman_webNevertheless I settle in and a soon have routine of writing, working and going down for provisions. I enjoy taking in a bit of the local village life. In the mornings the women sell their produce of vegetables and fish that their fishermen husbands have caught.

Gua_SM_bathingboysWatching the local boys swimming by the jetty.

Doing ordinary tasks take so much longer here, such as buying food, washing clothes by hand or preparing food and washing up afterwards the Guatemalan way. There is sometimes a lack of water, which is a serious problem not only up here but in the village as well, so I use it as sparingly as I can, as well as the electricity too.

Gua_SM_pier_webOnce in a while I take the boat and go to San Pedro on the opposite side. It’s a bigger village with more amenities.

Gua_SP_webThis is the steep road above the pier. Intriguing piece of electricity work…

Gua_SP_market_webA street scene in San Pedro.

Gua_SP_portraitAn old woman at the market. Love her beautiful clothes. And her calm presence.

It’s time to take the next boat back to San Marcos. Tomorrow I’m going to the market town of Chichicastenango. Please join me there!

Copyright and photo: Anita Martinez Beijer

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