Vivo En El Volcan!
It’s the start of another day in Panajachel, Guatemala. The streets are already bustling with activity. The woman cooking tortillas gestures a cordial Hola, Buenos Dias. The local market, just a few minutes walk down the rough cobble stoned road brings the assortment of traffic from pedestrians, trucks, vans, tuk tuks, bicycles, motor bikes and cars to an almost halt. The pickup trucks stop to unload their produce. Their tyres bulging from the overload of fruit and vegetables or baskets of chickens. There’s crisscrossing of people in all directions. Women with babies strapped to their back as they carry their goods perched effortlessly on their heads. Men carting produce into the market with wheelbarrows you’d expect to see in an antique shop. Hunched backs laden with heavy sacks of vegetables, baskets of live chickens or anything that needs moving.
Just beyond the market, the Catholic Church provides a major landmark and focal point as it does in all the surrounding villages. But the bustling flow of rambling traffic quickly takes you further along the road as it narrows into a colourful vibrant street. Lined with stalls selling anything from the abundance of locally produced hand woven brightly coloured fabrics, bags, clothes, to bars, restaurants and coffee shops. People casually meandering along. Tuk tuks as if playfully bobbing up and down along the street. Its little wheels bouncing between each cobblestone as it revs and shuffles past.
Drawing you further through the street, the waters edge of the lake provides an almost tranquil contrast. The misty clouds around the far perimeter of the lake, as if intentionally, lightly veil the hidden powerful majesty of the surrounds. Reaching up through the clouds reveal three massive volcanoes towering over the lakes edge. You can’t but help feel a surreal sense of fragility. That nature as much as it can provide can just as quickly take away. For where you are now standing, was once also an active volcano. This vast tranquil lake now giving life to the several quaint villages dotted around the inside rim of the old volcano walls. With each village offering its own unique character. From spiritual lifestyle themes offering yoga and healing, to another providing a huge array of arts and crafts, to another catering to the backpacker adventure seekers. Life inside this volcano is truly one of nature’s gifts.
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