Hard to believe tonight is my 10th and last night here at the Lake. Time slows down and yet is also very full. I’ve just felt very present to every moment and reluctant to step away from what is happening to write about it. It has been a blessing to have several friends to connect with here, to get a deeper sense of life and the changes going on.
The Maya call the lake Our Mother – and she is so beautiful! My eyes drink in the view, the beauty – and immediately want to take it in again and deeper. Now I understand why many say it is the most beautiful lake in the world… Surrounding by mountains including three awesome volcanoes 10,000 feet high that look like a child’s drawing, they are so vertical and steep, arising directly from the shore. Though once some of the slopes were denuded and ravaged by scars of war, now there is green everywhere, with many coffee trees and cornfields all around. The lake was formed as a caldera about 84,000 years ago and is Central American’s deepest lake (1,120 feet): It is technically endorheic (lacking direct flow to the sea) but substantial seepage feeds two nearby rivers: in other words, water flows in but not out. The introduction of bass some years ago ultimately led to the loss of the local flora and fauna. Plus the introduction of fertilizers and raw sewage which run off compounded by the lack of circulation which has contributed to many ecological issues, with the growth of a deadly bacteria (cyanobacteria) at times.
My hotel is right at the lake-shore – in fact, it may soon be IN the lake, as it is rising. The elders all know that there is a cycle of about 50 years when the lake rises – and then 50 years when it falls… But apparently as this beautiful place became known and popular with tourism, the various developers didn’t take their memories and warnings seriously: they have built all the new little roads, hotels and houses way too close and many are now underwater. And apparently many many more will be, up to the old roads above on the hillsides. Why are people so foolish and out of touch with the place and history where they are? Wishful thinking, stupidity, greed… ??!! Sigh. “When will we ever learn; when will we ever learn.”
It’s been enjoyable to wander the streets and alleys here in San Pedro – and to take a number of excursions many days to the various surrounding villages. Each has a different flavor and ‘specialty.’ San Pedro attracts many back-packers and has many Spanish schools. This makes for good eating and drinking choices. And here is where my two friends live – so it’s been a great base. My friend Nancy is a supporter of a project called Taa’Pi’t. This organization aims to help cultivate reconnection with Maya culture and cosmos vision through offering after school enrichment classes for youth. They engage in experiential learning (math, science, ecology as well as culture and Maya-cosmology) and learn about good nutrition. It seems that snacking on sugary drinks and empty calorie chips has become a problem here as capitalism has parents working in different endeavors so the kids have a few quetzals to purchase snacks instead of going home for more nutritional homemade treats. Parents are also working longer days and have less time to be with their families – so the children are missing out on hearing the stories of their culture and heritage. Taa’Pi’t Kortees (Centro de Talleres Intercultural Ensenanza Aprendizaje) is dedicated to restoring the Maya ways.