San Pedro is one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on earth. It is the heart of Mayan country, the vistas overlooking Lake Atitlan are breathtaking and inspiring. Warm, serine, a place where time seems to have forgotten. San Pedro is also a place of mystery and intrigue, for it is here that the ancient Mayan peoples have lived for thousands of years. Maya people say this lake is protected by "three grandmothers", and this is only the beginning, spend time here and you can't help but feel the incredible energy that permeates every crevice, every cave, every one of the three majestic volcanoes surrounding the lake, and the beautiful Maya people; soon you are aware that there is something very deep and mysterious about this place. The Name "Maya" means a person who is connected to the Kosmos. Here, everything follows in a certain order. Here, you may ask the question, which came first, Kosmic intelligence, or human inteligence?
Lake Atitlan it is said has no outlets. Over time it rises and falls, along the shores you see buildings underwater, other places you see where the shoreline has been in times past. Somewhere beneather the waters the Maya say there lies an ancient village. It is a volcanic cauldron, and some places I was told the depth is thousands of feet deep. Lake Atitlan has it's own measurable energy vortex, it is a sacred place to the Maya, it has always been.
There are Seven Mayan villages are on the shores of the lake and they are, Panajachel, San Pedro, San Marcos, Santiago, Santa Cruz, and Jaibalito, and 20 different Mayan languages are spoken here, Spanish is the universal language, while not so many speak any English at all.
This is just one of some 26 Mayan calendars, a curious looking graphic, one that charts the specific energy fields that shows us how these energies govern not only or lives but all things about us, in fact this calendar charts the energy fields of what the Mayan call the Kosmos. I spent many enjoyable days with Scholar Don Francisco as he took me through the intricacies of this calendar that interprets our nahaul What is a nehaul? This is my nehaul:
According to Mayan charts my nehaul is TOj, and this is my symbol. There are 20 nehauls, and your nehaul is determined by the date you were born on. But the rest of what your nehaul represents is not at all like the popular astrology charts we are all familiar with. The above calendar goes far beyond anyone's imagination of what it's about. The point being this is just one part of a very deep and complex belief system that has guided the ancient Mayan throughout time. It is through these intriguing calendars that the Mayan Priests connect with the Kosmic energy of the universe.
Those who come here to find glitz and glamour are disappointed. San Pedro knows where you are, let it find you sitting on a sun drenched rock along the shore of the lake. Stay until the sacred waters cleanses away all your sins of the past, pay no attention to the black buzzards circling above you, only your pretense is dying, you will walk away having a new perspective on what really matters in your life.
It's the energy of the place, the smiling faces you meet along cobble stone paths, the old women selling fresh baked banana bread and cinnamon rolls, and the children who are laughing on their way to school. The papaya, avocado, and mango trees along the way are heavy with fruit. The aroma of coffee, oh yes coffee, the best anywhere because it is grown here along the lake - on the steep mountain slopes.
I became friends with a coffee grower in San Pedro, and I asked him if he would let me pick my own coffee to take home to my friends in the States. We spent most of the day picking the most red and ripe cherries, they're called, then my friend Thorsten fermented and roasted them, now that's some damn good coffee let me tell you!
Ceremony was a huge part of my experience in San Pedro. There are times when the air is scented with the spices burned in the fires of the many ceremonies that are common around the Lake. I joke around and say I came here to witness the end of the world, the Mayan apocolypse. And while they have a proven track record of their prophacies coming true, this was never one of them. In other words they never said the world was coming to an end, what I heard in these powerful ceremonies were prayers for world peace. What I learned from their teachings is a nearly identical belief of the North American indigenous peoples the heart kows not the color of the skin, the Mayan welcome people from all walks of life in the spirit of equality, and teach their children to honor Honesty, Love, Courage, Truth, Wisdom, Humility, and Respect.
Maybe' School in San Pedro was where I spent a lot of time. Here in this pleasant atmosphere I learned some Spanish from excellent teachers, but more interesting for me was learning about the Mayan culture from Don Francisco, a Mayan scholar, author, teacher, and spiritual leader. Wel.
A final comment:
The word "Don" is a title not a name. Don Francisco is an extraordinary man who has dedicated his life to the betterment of his people through education. Over the years he has gained the respect and admiration of his Mayan community, working tirelessly everyday Don Francisco has inspired his sons to get their university degrees in medicine, architecture, and in the legal profession.
By our standards San Pedro is a impoverished village, having survived genocide of the 1990's, government corruption, and religious domination, still these good hearted people find the courage to rise above the challenges to remain Mayan.