Most people have had an urge to search deeper within themselves. Call it “finding yourself”; “facing your demons”; “holding up the mirror”…. call it whatever you like. The majority of people have, at one time or another, felt an urge to take some time to really focus on digging deeper into their own being in order to better understand who they are, how they fit into the greater picture, and how they can more positively connect with that better self. But how many people actually live in a space and time where they can do that? How many places exist where one can actually focus on such things without being called “selfish”, “impractical”, or the dreaded and overused term “hippie”.
The village of San Marcos on Lake Atitlan in Guatemala seems to have made a name for itself as just such a place. A place that allows people to come, explore, and dig deeper.
There is a large Mayan population in San Marcos (and all around Lake Atitlan), which is of a particular draw for anyone interested in ancient cultures and religions. What sets San Marcos apart from the other villages surrounding the lake is the simultaneous, strong presence of new age and mystical explorers. Both seem to co-exist if not intermingle in such a way that the entire village has a relaxed and welcoming feel for those seeking something “more”.
San Marcos has the added benefit of being a place with an extremely low cost of living, allowing travelers and seekers the opportunity to stay longer than they could elsewhere. It is not difficult to find a small place to live in San Marcos for less than $200 US per month; avocados cost about 0.14 US; and dinner for one can easily be had for less than $5.
For those who are interested, Mayan culture can be somewhat difficult to really learn about first-hand. The Mayans as a whole have a well-earned distrust of outsiders invading their culture and practices. However, we have been pleasantly surprised already in San Marcos to find a few amazingly warm Mayans who are genuinely interested in sharing parts of their culture with us when we show a genuine interest. It takes time to build real bonds of trust so seekers looking to soak up Mayan culture in a week may be disappointed…. or they may just get a superficial experience.
As we continue to explore San Marcos in the coming months, we will happily share what we find. Right now, it seems to be the perfect place for these new nomadic explorers to set up a home base and detox from our previous lives.
What we can tell you for now is that Bryan and Sarah, the owners of Hostel del Lago, are wonderful, Moonfish cafe has delicious chai and yummy food, and taking the plunge from el trampoline is an exhilarating experience worth trying.
Have you been to San Marcos or any of the villages that surround Lake Atitlan in Guatemala?