Sunday, April 18, 2010

Trip to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala

Sometimes the random choices we feel like we have made for no real reason, suddenly line up to bring us to something really good in our life. Lake Atitlan in Guatemala proved to be that way for me. I had never heard of it, never really had any interest in Central America at all. But. . .

My Dad had died too young, from esophageal cancer, and my Mom was trying to find her way to independence so when she said she really wanted to go, help build houses in Santiago on Atitlan, but was afraid to go alone, and wanted to take our family along. I couldn't imagine telling her "No."

I had travelled to Europe, and lived in China, but other than a trip cross the border at Niagara Falls and Tijuana, my Mom had never been out of the United States.

And After I said "Yes" things happened quickly. So it was that my Mom, my Younger brother, Lance (who has Down's syndrome and a true enthusiasm for Life) and my boys (Just finishing 2nd and 3rd grade) and I, found ourselves on a blue lake in the center of perfect, inverted V, Volcanoes, Speeding across the open water, and gliding silently through a tunnel of bulrushes, to the shores of a town which immediately took root in our hearts.

The beauty of the setting, lush with fruit trees and surrounded by Mountain and Lake and Sky, did nothing to hide the poverty of the people, or the sparkle of laughter in their eyes in spite of it. Learning about the history of the Maya people who lived there, and their independence in surviving and winning in the face of an army determined to subdue them was fascinating and impressive.

Learning more because of traveling with children. My kids made us less threatening and allowed them to approach us. The language barrier didn't matter in games of soccer on a dusty street or playing blind man's bluff. We were rich compared to them, but they soon stopped trying to ell us their beautiful beadwork and hand woven wonders, and offered us the greater gift of friendship.

We stayed at the Posada De Santiago Atitlan, in luxury, but went to their school and shared songs and "Duck, duck Goose" games. I thought this little week long adventure would soon be forgotten, but it has lingered as a gem in our hearts.

Now the fantasy novel I am writing is strongly influenced by the people and history of the Santiago People and the visions I have of Paradise will always look like a blue lake, and people in home woven finery beside cloud crowned volcanic peaks.

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