Tag Archives: Lake Atitlan

Floating Castles

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Work-for-stay agreements honor basic needs for shelter and food in exchange for  contributions of energy and time. At the finca this meant spending 25-60 hours a week cooking, cleaning, teaching yoga, office working, accounting, amateur religious counseling, spiritual space-holding, singing, and/or painting in exchange for 3-meals a day, saunas, lake jumps, ceremonies, singing, yoga, chosen community, and room for two.

Our room happened to be a converted pleasure craft – a house boat.

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The house boat’s humble facade belied the internal character of the space… cozy wall panels of plywood held proud graffiti-style inspirational phrases scrawled haphazardly in crayon or colored pencil. Two short shelves on either side of the bow created a temporary aisle and a surface for our altar. Under the shelves were two mysterious gaps leading to the internal hull of the ship -an abyss availalble only to the farm cats and probably some of our socks. A long and even row of nails made a make-do closet.

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Half the boat was dedicated to a full bed where one could gaze out the windows, seeing the farm dock and two looming volcanos. The volcanoes waited, shrouded in darkness, arising resplendent each sunrise from the mist rolling across the glassy morning waters of Lake Atitlan. Other than the view, the interior of the boat was as plain as a nun^s habit, which was maybe apropriate given the context.

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We learned how to balance our entries into the boat by positioning ourselves on opposite sides, so as one person see-sawed the boat starboard the other entered down a steep ramp on the other side. We took comfort learning these quirks, even as the water of the lake dropped several inches each week, and our little door sunk lower and lower until we were doing a kind of limbo down the narrow plank entrance.
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Each morning we awoke to a light grey sky behind the dark blue volcanos, and each evening the waves of Atitlan would lull us to sleep once again.

While loving the space, I awoke some mornings feeling heavy, like dreams had been dark, weird and cloudy. I began to blame the visual environment. Eventually we took a hard look at the makeshift collage right next to the bed, and wondered if we could use that precious wall real estate for our own creative expression, at least while we were here. Something that would feel familiar, inspiring or something that could remind us less of other people{s time here, but more a reminder of the ever-present.
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After a few days scheming, we decided to continue the houseboat tradition of using magazine clippings and found objects to create art representing not only our sacred journies, but  the mythic and mystical that belongs to all of us through sacred geometries.
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We spent many hours finding and clipping circles from a collection of old Yoga Magazine and Self and National Geographics. We made wheatpaste in a big pot in the kitchen on the gas burner, and NKO drew circle after circle on all the wood panels. Arranging the circles chromatically, we pasted up sacred geometries which NKO then embellished further with paint and his research into chakras, platonic solids, and sacred numbers.

We finished the piece over the last few days at the farm, NKO doing the lions share of the work once the circle cutting was complete. The last few nights in the houseboat were restful and my dreams were vivid, deep and present.
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We left behind a more elaborate piece than we had intended, but on our shuttle away from the farm, our friend Kali commented on the mural, letting us know that people who stare and a sacred geometric symbol or mandala before bed claim to have better success at interpreting dreams and lucid dreaming. Success!

Landscapes of San Marcos

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Unicorn Tile Murals at the Unicorno Hostel

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Sage and Candles

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5am from the deck of my room at Ananda Healing Center

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And sunset…

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What $7 a night pays for in San Marcos

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More Unicorn Art

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Crazy yogi’s raiding the 2nd hand clothing pile at the sushi restaurant

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A glimpse into what 2 weeks of Thai Body Work/Massage Training in Guatemala looks like…

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A room with a view – Hotel Quetzal

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Learning curve. This photos was back when I didn’t know that the last boat left for San Marcos at 5:00, and arrived at the dock at 5:15 and was suckered into paying 150 Quetzals for a private boat. The equivalent of $20. Less than a cab fare in Seattle, but it should’ve cost more like $3-5 max… I was “Had”.

As the Moon Rises

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The full moon approached as we explored San Pedro during a couple of well deserved days off – our first after a long stretch of work-for-stay on the Mystical Yoga Farm. The day began with a juice date with Jananî, the spiritual leader of the farm who we had shared transport with.

Andrew, a Canadian friend who had just left a position at the farm to travel Central America showed up unexpectedly. Being one for extremes, he took two juice shots in 15 minutes – the first a ginger, the second garlic. He then spent the next hour doubled up against a wall in a gravel parking lot across the street sweating garlic and trying not to vomit. Note to self – no garlic shots. Especially at 10am.

As Andrew repaired himself we progressed to the local Hebrew hummus joint HUMMUS YA for a delicious and filling 25Q roasted veggie lunch. Our mission after lunch was setting our lodging straight – we found a hotel near the public dock with a private room, lukewarm showers in a private bath, shared kitchen and a roof terrace – all for Q60 (about $8 US). The room even came with an unexpected guardian – a 7 legged spider the size of a small cat.

Mystical Yoga Farm values community and we often end the days by sharing time with people around us in a variety of mystical summer camp type activities; sweating in the temescal, kiritan style call and response fireside singing, gift sharing ceremonies (basically a yogi talent show), or guided meditations. The full moon is especially potent and sacred for such exchange, and we envisioned our rooftop terrace as the perfect place to share an intimate ceremony with Jananî.

The blossoming of the full moon is a perfect time to set an intention for the next cycle of your journey. The ripe moon allows us to meditate on where we are at in the moment, and what the next month looks like offering us a discreet frame to view our actions and manifestations.

The lunar cycle pulls us, as the moon pulls the tides, reminding us of other constant cycles in our lives and our constant state of flux. And just at the moon circles the Earth – outshining even the starts for a moment – we are able to chart our paths.

We met Jananî and slowly climbed the 4 flights of stairs to the roof of Hotel Peneleju as the the moon slowly began it’s ascent in the cloudless sky. We bundled up and spent 30 minutes in an unchoreographed clown show trying to light candles on an unsheltered rooftop on a windy night. Finally, all candles went out and we began our ceremony, calling in the 4 directions of the Medicine Wheel. Our other SYI friends were performing a simultaneous ritual near Yellowstone in California, praying for rain to end a 3 year drought. We spent some time talking about the nature of things like drought and human intervention. Our conclusion was that it’s impossible to wish a specific outcome for any situation – any wishes using the genie’s lamp inevitably go astray. So we wished for things like limited suffering, abundance of food, allowing equal and just access to resources, and realizations that water is one of our most precious natural gifts – hoping that it remain free and accessible for all.

We then discussed our own personal manifestations for the coming month. Creating this ceremony on a clear night with full bellies, abreast a beautiful lake, with a soft bed to sleep in and good friends around us we realized – who needs more than this?