So a bit of a catch up…
Since I wrote my last post, we have stayed in the same place. We had a few health issues, one being that Alex’s hip kind of seized up and at one point he was unable to bend it at all. We were becoming concerned that this would be the end of our trip and after having gone to the hospital for an X-ray and blood tests with still no real diagnosis, we didn’t really know what to do. We then thought it might be a muscle problem but didn’t know what had caused it as the pain had come on overnight while we were in Antigua. The closest thing we could get to a diagnosis was a local Mayan bone healer, who I think is known as a huesero, came to see Alex and decided that the problem was caused by his “spirit having a crash in the night”. He had some acupuncture and did some gentle exercises and, almost as quickly as the pain started, it went.
At the same time, I began having tummy trouble and we think I had a parasite known as giardia, which is very common here. People in San Marcos are generally either Mayans or white hippies (plus LOADS of dogs), and for many people we spoke to, western medicine was seen as a bad idea. So I followed their advice and tried a number of herbal concoctions, teas and tablets, which seemed to work for a while, but after another bout of illness that materialised on Christmas Day and then wiped me out for another day completely, we decided enough was enough and got some antibiotics. All better! (For now at least…!)
Due to Alex’s hip problem and everything we decided to turn our initial idea of being here for 3 days over my birthday (9th December, it was very nice thanks!) we have ended up being here for 25 days so far, with probably another week or two to go. This seems to happen here, people kind of get stuck. There isn’t actually much to do unless you want to spend lots of money on every type of massage, reiki, acupuncture, and holistic therapy that you can think of, or do a course to learn about your aura, energy, tarot readings, cosmology, healing stones, etc. (also very expensive, and not really our thing) and of course lots of yoga. Another popular thing to do here is a cacao ceremony. At its purist form, cacao seems to have a spiritual effect on people which can bring on a higher awareness of energy and spirituality. We are intrigued by the idea and what effect it might have on us, but equally nervous about it. It’s not a drug as such, and isn’t really (supposedly) used in these ceremonies for recreation, but more as a way of understanding things more deeply, from what I understand. Will let you know what it is like if we decide to do it!
Anyway, it seems we have been caught here for a reason so we have embraced small town life and now recognise many people around the village to say hi to. We spend most of our time chilling in cafes, drinking licuados (smoothie type things), and have got ourselves a job in the best restaurant in town, La Fe.
We have been working quite a lot in return for our accommodation and some food, and it has been quite fun and nice having something to do to break up our sitting around in various locations. Alex has been improving his Spanish, as the kitchen staff don’t speak any English. They speak a Mayan dialect between them, but can all speak Spanish, and have got used to understanding what Alex is asking for when he accidentally says Jueves (Thursday) instead of huevos (eggs). The restaurant and our hostel is owned and run by an English guy, Paul, who was really good to us all through Alex’s hip problems, so it is nice to have somewhere to belong for a few weeks and help him out a bit in return.
The main village is full of alleyways where you’ll find loads of dogs, children playing, people selling local chocolate (mainly for drinking) or coconuts and other fruit, banana bread (yum!), speakers blasting out with Guatemalan music or prayers from the church, and fairly regular deafening bangs from fireworks and rather dodgy-looking bangers in the streets at all hours, either done for fun or any type of celebration like a birthday! There are lots of cool cafes too where you can easily just chill for a few hours doing nothing and not even realise. It’s quite easy to see why people can’t leave!
If we want a bit more action, we can hop on a boat for 10Q (80p) over to San Pedro where there are more bars, shops, a bigger market, a cash point (oh the technology!) and just a bit more. Or there is another village called San Juan which we quite like, where they have loads of artisan stalls and I fell in love with a handmade leather bag there on my birthday but didn’t buy it as I didn’t want to carry it all the way to Argentina for another 5 months!
And other scenes from San Juan on my birthday (including a steaming cup of locally grown organic coffee!)…
So all in all life is not too shabby now we are better! We do feel ready to move on soon though, but as we have basically no plans I am just as excited as I’m sure you are to find out what will happen next on our journey!!