Where in the World is Jillo?

Guatemla - Part 3

Day 6
Today we explored Antigua.  We had a tour by a woman whose parents moved to Guatemala when she was 15 and she is now involved in the tourism trade and is very involved in the local government of the city. We saw the Palace of the Captain’s General which was rather cool and a beautiful Cathedral that is partly in ruins and is being restored. We visited a jade factory and learned about the different qualities of jade. Here we could look up our birthday according to the Mayan calendar and see what our sign was. My sign was the jaguar! I thought that was pretty cool. Most of us bought necklaces with our sign on it. They came with little cards that explained what our symbol meant. Mine said, “The life force and the Maya Priest. People born on I’X are destined to be spiritual guides and defenders of Mother Nature.”
After lunch we took about a three hour bus ride into the high lands to Lake Atitlan.  On the way we passed plantations of sugar cane and pineapples. About half way there we stopped at a small village, Cocales and had a fresh coconut. Wow! There’s really a lot of coconut water inside those. Much more than one you would buy in the States. They were very refreshing. As we drove along we saw the poverty of the countryside where houses along the road in the Mayan villages looked like something no one would be living in. The children would run down to the road when they saw the bus and wave. They are happy to see tourists as they bring money to the economy. There were also children sitting by the road or their house with old tables with a few things to sell on them, perhaps things they made.
When we arrived at the edge of the lake, there was a boat there to meet us. There were “open markets” set up on the side of the lake. We were immediately swamped with people trying to sell us weavings and jewelry and other things they had made. We loaded onto the boat and motored across the lake until we reached TOSA La Laguna where we would stay the next few days.
Since there was not enough room at TOSA, some of the group stayed in a hotel and had to motor back and forth across the lake every evening and every morning. I stayed at TOSA. The lodgings were dome shaped cabins. The one which I was in was at the very top of the mountain, 400 odd steps to the top. Usually we just made one trip up at night and one trip down in the morning.
Three of us stayed in the top dome. It was uniquely built with a strange sound in the center of the dome when you stood under it and talked. I was placed there on purpose because, I was told, there would be interesting things happening up there. Finbarr was certainly right, the first night there was an amazing happening. My two roommates could only listen to me tell the story as it happened for it did not happen to them. However other things occurred for them there or elsewhere at TOSA. Two ladies staying in the bottom dome on the lake also had some interesting experiences in their dome.
Day 7
Today we utilized some of the things at the facility.  We had a session on Egyptian healing rods and an introduction to the Crystalline City. We began the day with a meditation and instructions on the healing rods and the Tesla chair. This was all energy work. Some of us had massages, some utilized the sauna that was built by the Mayans hundreds of years ago and others hiked the trails. I had an awesome massage that set me up for the next few days.
Due to the site being off the grid, lights go out at 9pm on the mountain. Therefore, those of us going up the mountain had to be up there before 9 p.m. or we had trouble seeing in the dark with just flashlights.  The rope lights along the railings went out at 9 p.m. My friend, Angela and I sat outside at night and watched the stars from the balcony. The stars look so much bigger, brighter and closer there than here. It was the most peaceful feeling to sit and watch the stars and hear the lapping of the waves on the huge crystalline lake below.
Our other roommate used the time to do her own thing to prepare for the next day and integrate the day ending. We all got along very well, one from Switzerland, living in Canada; one of Spanish descent living in Los Angeles and me, from the middle of the U.S. As I said before, the journey of finding new people and cultures is an amazing journey just within itself.
Day 8
This day we met Juan Skinner, a local Mayan guide who was with us the rest of our stay.  Juan looked just like Juan Valdez, the guy who represented Columbian coffee on TV several years ago. He was a well educated man involved in government, archeology, spirituality and much more.
As we motored across the lake to one of the villages for a little tour and shopping, Juan told us that Lake Atitlan looked different now than it had many hundreds of years ago. The volcanoes erupted and changed the whole region of the lake. New volcanoes sprung up and water levels changed and the lake itself changed some.  We stopped in the middle of this lake too, just like we did in Peru at Lake Titicaca. For me, I didn’t feel the energy like I had on the one in Peru, but others felt it very definitely.
When we got to the village we were swamped again by the locals trying to sell us stuff. We wandered the village up back roads and through alleys to a hut that was the site of a ceremony unique to this land. As we went in, Finbarr had to leave money for tickets as they charged to see this. There were two men sitting by the statue of a man.
During the ceremony they poured liquor in the statue’s mouth and put a lit cigarette in its mouth. It was very close in there with a ceremonial fire burning. When we left, none of us really got what it was all about. Juan explained it as an old custom from long ago and what it was, but for the life of me I can’t remember. As we stood on the street listening to Juan, the beggars surrounded us. It was hard not to give them money. Some of us had coins, but as soon as we gave some out, more beggars and people trying to sell us things appeared.
We wondered how many of them had big families that they were helping to support. We don’t know how lucky we are in this country. Poverty is an ugly thing. We walked the streets for the better part of an hour and then headed back to the boat where they swarmed us again reaching into the boat to sell their weavings and other things. One little boy stayed on the boat and almost didn’t get off until one of the young men running the boat lifted him off.
When we got back to TOSA, I went in the sauna for about a half hour and then went out to jump in Lake Atitlan. It was a chilly experience but I soon warmed up and enjoyed the sun and the power of the lake. After dinner, a few of us stood under the copper pyramid.  Some great things happened there that morning and that night.  We found we were connected to the ancient Mayans that day.
Day 9
As the boat arrived this morning, we were on the dock waiting for them as we were going to Cerro Del Oro, THE MOUNTAIN OF GOLD. This is a mountain that is mentioned in history when the Spaniards invaded Guatemala.  This mountain is the great anchor point of spiritual energy for the Maya.  We were accompanied by the High Priest of the Maya up the mountain to a ceremony just for us.  We were the first “gringos” so to speak that had ever had this opportunity.  It was a very steep, taxing two-hour climb. A couple of the ladies in the group who had leg problems we thought would never be able to complete the climb, but with the help of two of the men, it was accomplished.
As we climbed the tiny trail, every once in a while a young boy would be met on the trail carrying a load of wood on his back. Finbarr said the loads they carried were 100-150 lbs. I swear some of those boys didn’t weigh that much themselves. I asked one boy how many loads he carried and he said three. Juan said they start early in the morning before it gets hot and usually get three loads carried down. Also, we were carrying a picnic lunch up the mountain in boxes. Juan had two young girls carry the boxes to the top on their heads. They passed us going up, no problem for them climbing up.
At the top the High Priest of the Maya prepared his ceremony and we all stood around the sacred stone on the mountain. We were given candles at different times to put in the fire with our intentions. It was all very impressive with all of the different elements to create the fire. Juan explained each item that the shaman put into the circle for the ceremonial fire.
After the ceremony, my friend Angela presented the Mayan priest with a shawl that a group of spiritualists in Canada had made and sent along special for this ceremony. He was very receptive.
After we ate our lunch, we started the climb back down the mountain. The view from up there was magnificent!! It took us about as long going back down the mountain as it had going up. Some of the things we saw going and coming were the way corn was planted by hand on the mountain side and then of course had to be harvested that way. There were coffee plants along the mountain where we saw young men picking. They use all the available space for the crops in the rich soil.
We were all pretty dusty and tired on the way back in the boat. It was nice to relax and eat dinner. Everyone was ready for bed this night, but… there was a huge shift in the night and almost everyone, even the ones at the hotel woke up somewhere around 3 o’clock. It was that way for three nights in a row. Finbarr explained what had been happening and then we all understood a little better why we weren’t sleeping and yet we weren’t tired.

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