A Day in San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala

San Pedro La Laguna, is a town along Lake Atitlan. This beautiful volcanic lake is located in the Western Highlands of Guatemala. Lake Atitlán and its villages are great for relaxing, taking in the pure scenic beauty, and getting a taste of Mayan culture.

After 15 days I’m still here in San Pedro Guatemala. I’ve begun settling in to what has become my life on Lake Atitlan. Most days are pretty similar to one another, and that’s okay, because I like it. It’s slow paced, relaxed, and gives me plenty of time to think things out. I’ve lived a pretty fast paced life for awhile and it’s nice to just do nothing.

“I’m told you can’t leave the lake without seeing the sunrise from the nose.”

I grab my tooth brush from the right side pocket of my tent where I keep my bathroom garb. The bathroom sink is little more than a bucket and spigot hanging on a wall. The first face I see everyday is my goofy mug grinning like an idiot in the mirror above. I brush my teeth, meander about, and admire my good looks while I say encouraging things to myself. Then I rinse, sometimes floss, and head out.

I go to the internet cafe that is around the corner. It’s usually empty around this time and one of the computers has an American keyboard.. It’s 3Q per half hour and when I’m having to pay for it, I use the internet more efficiently. I check my email, log in to facebook, and do whatever putzing around I want to do over the next 30 minutes. Then my stomach grumbles to tell me it’s breakfast time.

I have a basket of groceries in the kitchen that are stocked with basics to live off of. I wanted tostadas one night and bought a pack of 20 shells. The leftovers were in that basket for a couple days while I made tostadas at the hostel. I sold them for 8Q a piece netting a 4Q profit off of each one. From the internet cafe each day I would go out and buy whatever it was that I needed to prepare breakfast.

Eggs, tomatoes, and avocado can be had for at the most 1Q a piece. I got hooked on these bags of re-fried beans that cost 3Q that work great for individual meals, but for group meals I now opt for a larger can. There are plenty of places to buy all of this stuff and more within walking distance of where I sleep. Often I don’t even bother putting shoes on.

By the time I get back most people are beginning to wake up. They loiter on a wooden bench in the common area. It wouldn’t be surprising to have some nursing hangovers and many more still sleeping. I boil a couple of eggs because frying or scrambling them makes for a difficult mess to clean up. The pans here aren’t non stick and the time it takes to wash them isn’t worth it.

While the eggs boil I spread a layer of black beans on a tostada shell and begin cutting up a tomato I mimic the technique I saw from the girl at the taco shop near me and it seems to work best. It allows for good sizes without falling off the tostada. Top it with some sliced egg, a couple thin scoops of avocado, and while I had extra I needed to use, some minced cilantro and onion.

I walk out with the first one and it sells itself. “That looks good,” someone will say. It’s a simple process to make a good stream of these over the next little while as other folks start to wake up. I’ll never make my millions with this business, but it’s a good way to stay productive, practice my cooking, and earn enough money for a couple free meals for myself.

From here life goes wherever I want. Most days spent in some combination of sun, writing, book, lounging, hammocks, fruit, and relaxing. Sometimes on mini excursions up volcanoes, on boat rides to neighboring towns, hikes to abandoned coffee farms, or day trips in underwater hotels.

When it starts to get cold, it’s signaling the end to my personal time. With that, I put on my nighttime clothes and head off to the internet cafe. I spend a half hour wasting time while I figure out what I want to cook for dinner. Last night it was a sweet Thai curry stew with mixed vegetables and pineapple. For 10Q a bowl, I earned a couple more meals.

After dinner I like to spend time in a hammock digesting. People start to come in from their days and everyone starts asking “what time is it?” as if they had anywhere to be. I tell them, “January,” and try to remember what movies are playing. Every night at several different venues they play a movie on a projector. Most of them are bootlegs either bought in the city or downloaded themselves. I’ve seen a few now, and it’s not a bad way to pass a couple hours in the evening. Buddha Bar is the best place to see a movie in town. Good equipment, comfortable seating, and the best ice cream brownie on the block.

After the movie I head back to the hostel to do some more nothing. I lounge in a hammock for a bit while the bottles of booze get popped. People start taking shots with beer chases, and chain smoking local cigarettes. I debate my snack for the evening. It’s either 10Q tacos around the corner or a snack from the wandering cake women. She comes in every night with a chocolate cake balancing on her head, a basket full of popcorn, and a pan with chocolate banana sandwiches. She won my heart on day one.

Before the partying gets too heavy, I head off to my tent to retreat. I inflate my pad, lay out my stuff, and call it night. I can hear the partying going on 5 meters from me, but it doesn’t matter. I quickly tune them out, drift off, and end my day in San Pedro, Guatemala. Life is tough here, I know.

[Originally posted on Nomadic Zen. Read more about San Pedro on Chuck’s Blog and check out his pictures from San Pedro and Lake Atitlan!]

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