A place to escape it all: San Marcos La Laguna (Lake Atitlan)

 

2 years ago when my brother informed me he wasn’t coming home for Christmas and that he was instead spending it in Guatemala, I thought he had lost his mind! Then after he did it the next year, I was more intrigued than annoyed. He told me he was spending his time in a hippy town called San Marcos situated on Lake Atitlan, a lake spreading 12 km long but 130.1 km² round  in total. He described waking up in front of a tranquil, gorgeous lake miles away from the daily stress of the UK, venturing into the friendly town for a morning yoga session to then spend the rest of his day either taking some of the self development seminars on offer across the town, working a little (it’s a haven for digital nomads), attempting one of the challenging hikes or just watching the world go by over the lake. So upon leaving my job and the hectic life of central London, I decided to finally buckle under the pressure that my brother had been applying and visit the place he was now so fond of.

The taxi ride from Guatemala City to San Marcos was almost 6 hours in total but the view I witnessed upon arrival made it totally worth the journey; my brother met me out side the airbnb rental we had booked and I settled into what was to be our house for the next 3 weeks. Now since getting sick and trying numerous techniques to recover, I had more recently looked into alternative medicine and with it, spirituality. As a result, I was definitely more open than I had even been in terms of looking at self-development and working on my mental health  as a way of recovering my physical illness. That being said, I was still take aback by the number of things I was exposed to that I had never heard of, let alone actually experienced. I decided I would go into it with an open mind and try to push the boundaries of what I was used to.

There a LOT of workshops, seminars, classes to choose between; including sound ceremonies, cacao ceremonies, energy healing, breathing workshops, ecstatic dances, various kinds of yoga, guided meditation and a lot more. Through recommendation my brother, I signed up for a week’s worth of 1-2-1 sessions with this energy healer who had a focus on breath work. The phrase “energy healer” initially put me off but the though of having a breathing practice to calm my mind down was something I was really interested in; for some reason normal meditation had never really worked for me and so I was eager to find something that did. In summary, the week with her was a game-changer, I got more out of those sessions than 3 years of mediation in terms of the actual experience. Each time we breathed together (lasted an hour), I had these crazy experiences where I would feel energy flowing through my body and upon lying down, I would feel both incredibly high but also clear-headed; whatever seemed horrible and complicated before now seemed simple and easy; I was a able to get clarity where before I was just muddled. The healer I worked with was called Edith Bowman, a quirky but lovable Austrian woman who had moved to San Marcos almost two decades ago through a calling she’d had to heal people in Guatemala. These sessions weren’t easy and despite having the most amazing experiences, I would dread going every day (something clearly holding me back in my subconscious) only to leave each session feeling amazing. If you are going there and have the time, I would 100% suggest going to see her; send her an email on…….

Added to this, I went on three hikes (two near San Marcos) explained in my blog here, I attending Yoga every morning on the lake at Del Largo, went to an ecstatic dance (one of the most out-there experiences I’ve ever had!), went to a sound ceremony and went to a cacao ceremony. Most of though, I just spent time chilling on the lake and watching the world go by, which you could easily do day-after-day if you’re not careful! Whilst my other activities were interesting and I’m glad I did them, none of them provided me with something game-changing I could take away apart from my 1-2-1 breathing sessions with Edith. Now I have a tool that can calm me down and make me see things how they actually are, no matter how stressed or irrational I’m feeling and so for that I’m incredibly grateful. For me, San Marcos is a special place and that is obvious in the number of people that return year after year and I will 100% make sure I return one day.

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