What’s Poppin’ in Guatemala

I had the pleasure of visiting Guatemala for the first time this year. I was there for an invigorating week of Ecstatic Dance. Every morning, I would open my eyes and stare out at Lake Atitlán and its surrounding volcanoes – from my bed. It was like waking UP to a dream every morning. Curious about Guatemala? Here’s a super short list of my highlights.

  1. Chicken buses. These are the first things that had me acting a fool (pointing, giggling and “ooh-ing) on my trip to Guatemala. They’re American school buses that have been pimped wayyyyy out. No, it’s better than you’re imagining. Get crazier. Think: All kinds of color and bling. And, each of them is unique. You can see that folks are really putting their heart and soul into showing off their creativity when decorating them. If you’re on the highway, you’ll see one pass by every 10 seconds or so, so there’s a lot of them. Spotting them is as exciting as watching fireworks – where you’re trying to decide which is your favorite. I immediately wanted one of my own to take to Burning Man.
  2. Lake Atitlán. Ya’ll, it’s an infuriatingly gorgeous volcanic lake that’s renowned as one of the most beautiful in the world. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Seeing it for the first time made me want to shake my fist at it. How could something that stunning be real? There are eleven villages around the lake. I stayed in San Marcos, which is full of hippy expats, yoga studios and meditation centers. Lake Atitlán is said to be one of the centers of Mayan spirituality. Some say it’s an energy vortex and that the lake is a living, sacred being. I definitely experienced some unexpected personal spiritual encounters starting the very first night that I arrived there. The place is deep.
  3. Volcanoes. The lake is surrounded by mountains and…get this, three massively beautiful volcanoes that you won’t be able to take enough photos of. Atitlán and Tolimán are still active, and San Pedro is extinct. It’s as wild as it sounds.
  4. Eagles Nest. If you’re in San Marcos, you must visit Eagles Nest to experience their otherworldly dance/yoga floor. It’s suspended above the lake – at 7700 feet above sea level – with a gorgeous view of the sparkling water and towering volcanoes. I highly recommend going when there’s an Ecstatic Dance session. People come from all over town and it gets lit af. It’s a great vibe complete with bangin djs, live musicians and folks doing body art, contact improv and selling crafts.
  5. You’ll probably get sick. I got sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. Other folks I was with ALSO got this sick, so it wasn’t just me being weak. I met people there who had been to Guatemala before – or expats who lived there – and speaking to them made me realize that getting sick in San Marcos is a normal and inevitable thing to go through. Damn.