Guatemala: Part 3, Adventures and Goodbyes

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This is the final recap to a fun-filled trip to The Yoga Forest (TYF), a yoga retreat in Guatemala. I want to go back to Guatemala right now, especially since it’s 80 degrees F there and 45 degrees F here! For now, though, I’ll have to fondly remember the trip through these recap posts and dream of going back someday.

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Catch up on the first part of the trip with recap #1 and recap #2!! Then book a ticket to Guatemala because it’s nice and warm there!

Sunday, Day 5

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I tried meditation this morning without mom. It went a little better. Then Mom and a few others joined the meditation gang for yoga. After yoga was the standard breakfast. Man, I miss the breakfast food there in general.

100_7776After breakfast, there was a temple dance at TYF, but Mom and I’d had enough of dancing what with contact dance and all so we decided to take a trip to another town on the banks of Lake Atitlán- Panajachel. Another guest from TYF, Melissa from Los Angeles (CA), came with us. We walked down the mountain to San Marcos, then took a small boat from the San Marcos dock to Pana.

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100_7948The bumpy ride took about half an hour, and it was 20 Q per person for a ride (which is about $2.50 U.S.). We saw an active volcano on the way there! It had smoke coming out of it and everything. It was dope.

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Vendors immediately started trying to sell us their wares as soon as we stepped off the boat and onto the dock. We did our best to turn them down, then walked down the street to the main market area of town. Town was fun and lively with tuk-tuks and a lot of shops, market stalls, and restaurants. We slowly strolled down the main street, looking for the best souvenirs to buy.

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We stopped at Chinitas, a Guatemalan/ Asian restaurant, for lunch based on a recommendation we’d gotten. I tried a horchata, rice milk and cinnamon in a glass with ice. I was curious to try it since Melissa said it tasted like liquid oatmeal. It was tasty and refreshing. The adults got alcoholic beverages (a margarita and a mojito) since booze is banned at TYF.

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Food-wise, I tried a traditional Guatemalan green cilantro sauce-filled dish with potatoes, carrots, and tofu with tortillas. It was okay. It didn’t compare to the fab food at TYF, that’s for sure! Mom tried a Cambodian salad with pineapple, rice noodles, and grilled tofu.

We shopped more for souvenirs after lunch. We haggled with multiple vendors for the best prices (always go with half of what they offer you, and you can always walk away). We left Pana at 4:15 with a pair of earrings for my mom, a patterned purse for me, a patterned purse for my cousin,  a woven pillow and table runner, three painted wooden trays, a painted pottery pitcher for my grandma, two t-shirts for my brother, a smiley face hat for my dad, and yarn friendship bracelets for the kids we tutor.

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We saw many different places, people, souvenirs, and events. One of the stranger things we saw was a typewriting class in progress! This woman is learning how to type.

We took the choppy ride back to TYF. We switched rooms when we got back so Mom and I had our own rooms! Then we had a flavorful and extremely filling dinner of roasted cauliflower with ground cashew “cheese,” roasted eggplant, spicy green beans, olive oil herb potatoes, a tomato-pepper sauce, and a hearty salad. We hung out in our rooms until lights out at 9 PM.

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Monday, Day 6 (our last full day!)

We woke up to a gorgeous view of the sunrise.

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Then we went to our last vinyasa class at the Forest taught by TYF owner. We savored our final breakfast and packed toast with peanut butter for Tuesday’s breakfast on the road.

We journaled, read, and relaxed after breakfast until lunch on a sunny hill.

Our final lunch was…

  • the most beautiful salad I’ve ever seen, full of blackberries, raspberries, and EDIBLE FLOWERS!
  • peanut noodles with broccoli and carrot
  • dill sauerkraut made by TYF yoga teachers

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After lunch, we went into town on a mission- to get a block of raw cacao from this cacao-obsessed dude named Keith who lives in San Marcos. We got the cacao brick (that we’ll end up baking with), as well as a brownie for mom and kombucha for both of us. We also went to a little health foods store and got some chocolate as a way to spend the rest of our Quetzals (Q).

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Where we bought the cacao. 

We rushed back up to TYF when we were done shopping to make it to the 4 pm yoga class only to find out that there was no 4 pm yoga that day because there were not enough people to have class (only three of us). Bummer! We felt spoiled to be able to attend two yoga classes each day, so missing one wasn’t the hugest deal. We did our own class instead, then read until dinner.

Our last supper (sorry to be so dramatic) was salad with mango, nuts, and coconut + rice in vegetables in a special sauce. After dinner, one of the yoga teachers said he could give me a concoction that would reduce the swelling in my ankle. He brought me into the small kitchen and showed me how to mix together turmeric, black pepper, and coconut oil. Then he made me eat the concoction he made. It was DISGUSTING. I cringe just thinking about it now. BUT. Tuesday morning I woke up and the swelling in my ankle was reduced by half so the nasty mix definitely worked!

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After this, we said our goodbyes to everyone at TYF as we were leaving at 6:15 AM the next morning. It has been so fun to meet people from all over who share our love of yoga and good vegetarian food! I miss TYF. I guess I’ll just have to go back! 🙂

We went back to our rooms, packed, and got ready to leave. We went to bed early so we’d be well-rested for our impending LONG day of travel.

Tuesday (homeward bound)

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We woke up at 5:45 and got dressed and ready to go. We had to lug our bags down to San Marcos (it was easier than dragging them up but it still wasn’t the highlight of the trip). Then we met the same shuttle driver that brought us to TYF, and he drove us to Guatemala City. We ate breakfast and slept in the car. We spent the rest of the day commuting from Guatemala City to Atlanta to our hometown. It was a long day, but all the travel we did to get to and from The Yoga Forest was worth it.The sickness my mom and I got the day after we got home that lasted for a week was also worth it (as horrible as it was).

All in all, our spring break was filled with high ups and looooow downs, but it was a great experience that I was happy to share with my BFF (my mom).

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I hope you’ve had fun reading my travelogue and that I’ve inspired you to travel to Guatemala!

xx Ellie

Questions for you: What did you do for spring break if you had one? Where is the most tropical place you’ve ever traveled? Have you ever been on a yoga retreat before? 

 

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Guatemala: Part 2, Exploring San Marcos and Enjoying Pizza

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Happy May and welcome to part 2 of the recap of my fabulous adventure to Guatemala! Sidenote: fabulous is my adjective of choice at the moment.

Part 1 is here if you want to or need to catch up.

Let’s dive in, just like I’m sure you want to dive into that clear blue water in the picture above. Actually you don’t since Lake Atitlán is filled with waste water from toilets and such that people dump into it. ICK.

ANYWAY.

Day 3

We woke up to the sound of a very loud, very repetitive gong. Meditation time. We decided to try it. Key word: TRY.

I had really bad allergies for about half the trip (due to volcanic ash and fog). I write this because I was really feeling them during meditation so the deep breathing of meditation was difficult. About half way through meditation, my mom laid down… so I decided to follow her lead. This caused my mom to crack up, so I started cracking up, and because we knew how inappropriate it was to laugh while meditating we decided to laugh even harder (??). We FAIL. At least we didn’t fail the yoga class after meditation! I was the most focused I’ve ever been in a yoga class thanks to the meditation, and I actually fell asleep during shavasana for the first time ever!

After yoga, we enjoyed multiple servings of the usual breakfast100_7512100_7505

Then Mom, Katie (our friend from contact dance), and I walked down the mountain to the nearby town of San Marcos. San Marcos was pretty small (there are only a few streets), and a lot of people speak English since the town is populated with expats from English-speaking countries like the United States and Australia.

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We walked around and ended up at a smoothie shop where we split a mango/ coconut/ lucama/ macadamia nut mylk smoothie. We also went into a place that makes their very own kombucha (probiotic drink) and got some! It was yummy, and great for our bellies.

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We walked back up to TYF for a lunch of veggie curry, veggie stew, rice, corn tortillas, and salad.

After lunch, I hung out on the hammock on the deck of our room. P1270346

Then we went to town again to get dessert since there isn’t much of it at TYF and WE NEED DESSERT! I savored a deliciously rich (vegan!) chocolate tart with an oat base, a creamy banana filling, and a silky smooth chocolate topping from a local restaurant and hostel (Circles) for 20 Q (Guatemalan currency- 20 Q is about 3 US $). Mom got a non-vegan chocolate macadamia nut brownie. 100_7598100_7602

We traversed back up to TYF when we finished our dessert for an acro yoga class! Acro yoga is balancing yoga with a partner. I was a “flyer” so I got to balance on the “base.” We did some cool poses like the ones below.

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P1270454This evening was awesome because first there was acro yoga and second… it was PIZZA night for dinner! The local kitchen staff made thin pizza crusts and sauces, but we got to assemble the pizzas and put whatever toppings we wanted on them! The sauces were tomato and pesto, while toppings were grilled zucchini, grilled eggplant, tomatoes, spinach, onion, mozzarella cheese, and homemade goat cheese made from the milk from the goats cared for by TYF! There was also a side dish of roasted potatoes, beets, carrots, and herbs (my FAVORITE).

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Putting personalized pizzas into the pizza oven!

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Some people also made a delectable dessert pizza with a peanut butter base and topped with plantain slices and raisins. Everyone shared the pizzas while they listened to the live music (drumming and singing) performed by TYF staff. It was such a fun night.

Day 4

My allergies were bugging me again, so Mom and I decided to skip meditation and just go to yoga. Right before class started, I needed to blow my nose (bc allergies). There were no tissues in the studio, so I ran to our room to get some… but on my way there, running down the steep steps, I twisted my right ankle inwards and fell down onto it and onto the stone step below. I heard a loud pop and then I could barely walk. But I ignored the woman who saw it happen and told me to sit down because class was starting in any minute. Instead, I hobbled to our room, grabbed tissues, and limped as fast as I could back to the pavilion where class was taking place. Then I participated in class. And found out after class that my ankle had swollen up. Good job, Ellie.

On the bright side, breakfast was fab and the view was finally clear enough to see the mountains across the lake!

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Above: One of the local chefs flipping bread for toast, as well as a picture of our typical breakfast.

After breakfast, Mom and I put on our bathing suits and worked on our tan until lunch (while wearing copious amounts of sunscreen of course). Lunch was leftovers from pizza night- toppings plus the potato/ beet/ carrot medley. After lunch we continued to relax in the sun, and then we went to restorative yoga from 4 to 5:30.

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Dinner after yoga was pad thai and salad with zucchini and cashews- delicious as usual. Dinner was always one of my favorite parts of the day at TYF since I loved learning more about others at the Forest… and the food rocked! I showered after dinner in the dark under the moon and the stars. I felt so outdoorsy and I loved it.

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Check back on Monday morning for the final recap! Much love!
xx Ellie