Windows in Time

It has taken me three weeks of hiking in the valley before I could make it to the high village and Terry’s land. From the landing at the lake about half the distance to the property is cobblestone lane. From the river bridge it is steep mountain trail the rest of the way.

Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is in a volcanic caldron. That means it is a lake that now rests several thousand feet below the highlands above. The land rises quickly from the waters edge. The surrounding farm lands and villages hang on steep mountain slopes.

This particular valley extends upward about half the distance to the highlands above. It is a steep mountain valley with two rivers that meet below the village. The upper village and farm land rests on a small mesa of flat land fed water by surrounding springs.

The vista of the lake and distant active volcano is breathtaking from this elevation.

A portion of Terry’s land is used for organic gardens. The farmers that raise and own the crops there are a part of a local growers association. The association is helping the farmers to grow new crops and find new markets.

I will rent the A-frame that borders the organic gardens while I build on my property just above Terry’s holdings. I have spent many years looking for this opportunity and I will share with you what I have found.

I have a friend who has lived in this village for years. He knows his neighbors and works with them on a daily basis. He is an accepted member of this community. He has vastly decreased my entry time in to this community.

I am fitting right in as another farmer growing organic crops. I have been invited to take part in the associations’ activities. I am quickly becoming a member of a small and open community of people with common interests.

This is fun!
Smiles, ET

Dollars and Sense

It is true I have a long walk up a steep mountain trail to reach my property, but once I am there I have little reason to leave. I have found community in this remote mountain valley. There are always people about.

Our activities center on the land and there are few mechanical or electronic distractions. There is electricity here but it doesn’t seem to be used for much other than lighting and radios.

The villagers who have tried televisions have given them away, saying they are not good for their families. The men enjoy television while the soccer tournaments are being played, but they don’t like their wives watching soap operas.

So let’s talk about the dollars it takes to live somewhere like this:

I have purchased one-quarter acre of land, half of which is under cultivation. Half of the land is flat and ready for a small home. Water comes from a small spring above that also irrigates the property. The land is costing me less than $2000 USD.

I have a small window of time to put all this together. We have mild weather here, but we do have Seasons. The Rainy Season is not that far away and I must get my new adobe home under roof before the wet weather begins again.

My home will have a quarried stone floor, fireplace, and adobe walls on the ground level. The roof area of the house will be of an a-frame design and house my bedroom. The upper level will have a small porch that will overlook the lake and great the rising morning sun.

The water I drink from the spring that feeds the property needs no filtration; it is that pure. My property has never known chemical fertilizers.

Half of my land is in fruit (orange and apple), avocado, and bananas trees. Coffee trees grow below the fruit trees above. Squash and beans carpet the ground. In addition to all this my neighbors grow organic corn and a hundred different fruits and vegetables I can’t even name yet.

There are nuts and berries free for the gathering on the surrounding hillsides. Beyond a few staples, there is little I need carry in. Chickens will arrive when I have the coup build. My food will now come almost exclusively from my land and the village.

Fresh baked bread, tortillas, and fish are delivered to my door by local venders; yet my food costs are now less than $10 a week.

I can also build my basic home here for about $1000 USD. The adobe blocks will be made from clay on my land by local labor.

It feels like I have my bases covered and I am doing this on a retirement income of $1000 USD a month. This works for me because I love to live rustically. I love the sound of the rivers, the mountains, and the lake being in my life.

And now the Mayan village people are becoming more real to me. They are the people who live in the remote villages and who are little touched by the outside world. It is good to meet them.

Smiles. ET

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 8:11 pm  Comments (1)  
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“Bing, Bing, Bing”

My friend Terry and I sat and used that expression to describe how the purchase of my land came together. He is ready to back me now so the purchase is covered.

It will take me 90 days to gather the purchase price from my current income. I have a little time to put some things together so I hope to move that schedule ahead. It is remarkable how things come together almost magically at times like this.

I went to spend several days with Terry at his lovely farm in a high valley above Lake Atitlan in Guatemala. Terry is a Zen Monk. I wished to live in the valley, but figured it would take some time to put it together.

While we were walking the boundaries of Terry’s’ holdings we met his neighbor who owns an adjoining piece of property. Though no interest to sell his property was expressed by the farmer during our brief meeting, an offer came within a few hours.

Turns out our neighbor was given the opportunity to buy corn land on the highlands above the lake and realized a way to do this might have appeared with Terry and I.

The windows for land sale come quickly when crops are harvested here. It’s time to get the beans in and land transfers must happen now. Our neighbor needs to buy his corn land now and we must move quickly with our sale to help that happen.

In all of this I note that Terry had not seen this neighbor in three years and yet the farmer was there when we arrived. I also know that the opportunity to purchase the corn land arrived for the neighbor when I appeared to purchase his current property.I love when I am in the Flow and the doors to the Future just pop open.

The last several months of my life have been about transition. I am making the move back to country. Town and city life has been fun in Guatemala, but I am ready for quieter places now.

All is well.
Smiles, ET

Published in: on December 8, 2008 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Getting Ready

There are times in my life when I know I am going in to a transition. Crisis is no longer a necessary ingredient in my life for me to change. It is the change in the flow of energy that sets me moving now.

Over the past several months the flow has been increasing in intensity. Each event had a color and it began to paint a picture. In recent months I have become more unsettled. I know it is time to begin something new.

There is nothing wrong with what I have. My two years here at Lake Atitlan have been some of the most wonderful of my life. It is just that beautiful can become so common that it begins to fade.

I am beginning to loose sight of the beauty here. It is a quiet process and it has changed my experience. I know that forty of you visit Uduzit regularly. I believe many of you do that so you can catch up on little things happening here at the Lake. I hope you keep coming back.

This past week I began a transition for my spending more time in Antigua. I had a wonderful visit there for several days this past week.

My visit changed many past impressions of the city I held from my days there as a language student. This visit I found there are so many special shops and great places hidden on the back streets that it will take months to explore.

I was able to spend quality time with new and old friends on this visit. It was a good “people” visit.

My friend Jeff showed me the neatest breakfast routine at the main market.

First stop was with the orange juice lady for a huge glass of fresh squeezed OJ. That was 5Q, or about $.65. Next stop was at this extraordinary bakery and coffee shop (La Posteria) just outside the entrance to the main Mercado. Coffee and three breakfast rolls cost about $1.30.

We gathered our goodies and headed to a small restaurant in the main market. The Mercado is a huge place and this restaurant is tucked back among a thousand stalls. Here we sat and ate beans, scrambled eggs, and feta cheese for 10Q ($1.30).

Jeff even brought some extra rolls for the ladies in the kitchen as a thank you for letting us bring in our own coffee and rolls. They smiled. They like Jeff.

An extraordinary breakfast for $3 was just the beginning of that wonderful day. We’ll continue with this adventure in the next post.

Smiles. ET

Published in: on September 13, 2008 at 8:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Winter at Lake Atitlan

Volcano view from Antigua

Volcano view from Antigua

I have lived in some places with lousy weather, like around the Great Lakes in the States. I moved to the Southwest and found Arizona was not the paradise I thought it would be. Lake Atitlan in Guatemala is Paradise compared to the other places I have lived.

In Arizona I spent a lot of money either trying to stay warm, or cool. Living in my motor home, I would work for the National Forest Service in the high mountains to escape the summer heat of the lower elevations.

I loved when my employers paid my utility bills. Staying warm, or cool, in the lower elevations cost big money!

In Guatemala my room has one glass window and one screened window. Both windows have wooden shutters. The walls are block and transfer daytime warmth into the room at night. When nights are chilly I burn a candle, or add a blanket.

Money spent on utility bills, is now money spent to buy candles. I could get fancy and purchase a tiffany oil lamp, but that produces a lot of heat for a small area. Oil lamps are great for atmosphere though.

Most nights I wear a sweater. My English friends don their jumpers. It is winter here. It is the Rainy Season.

At Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala, the temperatures moderate between 60 and 80 degrees throughout the year. Lake Atitlan is located in a volcanic caldron and a thousand feet below the surrounding highlands.

The Highlands of Guatemala have winter weather that sometimes includes snow. Summer temperatures are warm and have higher humidity in the Rainy Season.

If you wish the jungles and tropical weather, you can visit Tikal or the Livingston on the Caribbean. On the Pacific Coast this time of year, you will find black sands and more tropical weather.

Guatemala has about every climate you could wish to experience. We have old Spanish cities and modern cities here. It is a place well worth checking out!

Smiles. ET