The NorthStar Pilgrim
One People One Earth
Update From Guatemala - May 25th, 2005
Dear Brothers and Sisters for Peace
When last I wrote, I was headed for the Guatemalan border to get my status in Mexico reinstated for another 6 months period. This was that I can continue my journey of finding the perfect land for The Children of the Siun for One People, One Earth Temple.
I arrived at the border at around 7:30 am. When I got to the border, they told me that I had to stay in Guatemala at least 3 nights and 4 days before returning to get my status in Mexico. . So I began hitchhiking toward the beautiful lake I heard so much about from other travellers who passed through the hostel. The lake is called Lago Atitlan. It is 5 hours away from the border. While walking through the border town of Hildalgo, Chiapas, I got lost and had to stop and ask the police for direction to the exit for hitchhiking. They opted to take me to the bus station and I told them that I had very little money so I preferred to walk and hitchhike and use what little money I had for food. The bus only cost 40 quetzals ($4.00 American.) They didn’t quite understand this coming from an American, so I showed them my letter from the padre stating that I was a Pilgrim for Peace. After reading the letter, the two officers, put me on the bus for a town, I don’t remember at this writing, which was 3 hours from the border. Lago Atitlan was another 2 hours away from there. Although the bus only cost, Q20 quetzal (= $2.00.) I preferred to walk and hitchhike to see the country. I like the adventure to get there - while I got caught in ny first rainy season down pour.
I arrived at the pueblo called Santiago de Atitlan at around 5:30 that evening. I arrived cold, wet and tired. In my travels, it went from very hot to very cold. It was higher elevation in up in the mountains. Nevertheless, the Iglesia was right there at the centre of town where I got off the bus. I hadn’t tested the letters of recommendation in so long, I didn’t know what to expect. The padre was not in the office. So I had to wait about 45 minutes for his return. It was a huge Catholic church with a huge yard where the kids were playing. I must have been a sight to behold to them. They followed me to the office and stared, smiled, laughed.
When the padre finally did come, he looked at me like I was gum stuck in the carpet. He was a very dark man, like Juan or David, yet his manners when speaking to me was like, ¨Why do you come here you vagabond? He didn’t speak any English, and my Spanish, grammatically broken as it is had to suffice. I politely showed him the letter from another Catholic Priest signed with their seal and the letter from immigration depicting who I am and why I was there. He, far more relaxed, said what they all say after reading my introductions: ¨How can I help you? I told him that I was living and working in Mexico and my visa ran out in a six month period. And I needed 3 nights in Guatemala to renew my status in Mexico. He said, I will give you 1 night.¨¨. I gave him a disarming smile and said possibly two nights and then I will seek another Iglesia. He said possibly two. He immediately reached for his keys - while a group of kids scuffled and fought over who would carry my heavy bags - and he escorted me to my quarters. It was a room with double beds, with a bath and shower. It was to be my home for 2 nights. The Penthouse Pilgrim still lives.
The next day, I was up at 5:30 for my daily yoga meditations. In the garden of the cathedral, the blackest thing they ever saw was doing his 1,000 breathing inhalations/exhalations. This practice each morning made for great entertainment for all the care keepers. Although I became the subject of much conversation between them, I was treated with a great deal of respect.
I got out and walked the streets, around the market place, etc. and the people laughed and whispered to themselves while looking and laughing at me. After a day of this, I began to lose my patience with such utter disrespect. Ther were two men with cowboy hats and boots on making gestures and me my African clothing. I immediately went and sat on the bench where they were sitting and sat with them looking at them. They turned from me and were quite. So I said ¨Ahora siliencia tu¨¨ (You are quite now.). Then they began again to laugh and make mockery and I said to them in Spanish, why do Indian people wear the clothing of their conquerors? You have cowboy hats and boots, but no horse. Where are your horses cowboys? Perhaps all your master left you to ride is are dogs that run in the streets. After a while they left me alone and sat there with them and pulled out my harmonica and began to play Bob Marley´s ¨Redemption Song: I sat there and rehearsed the song over and over again until I felt better.
I experienced that type of mockery from kids and adults, pretty much for the rest of the day. It really felt strange to experience snickering, laughing and whispering about you everywhere you went. It became unnerving and made me feel self a little self conscious about myself. And all my impulses to retaliate were loaded and fit to be tied. At the end of the day, I reasoned that I had to show more patience for a people who have been robbed of their land and still in worse economic bondage than people back in the states. I also forgave my behaviour and attributed much of it to road weariness. The next would be better. And it was.
The Maya people, are far more angrier at visitors than the Aztecan, Mixtecans, Zapotecans, Nautalans and the Mayan people of Mexico. These people are very humble and very respectful to each other and strangers. At least, I found that to be my experience in the ten months I had the pleasure to live there. I observed that the Maya kids are not only disrespectful to strangers, but to their own grandmothers and grandfathers as well. I thought I was back in the states. This is, in part, due the heavy presence of crack cocaine, and corporate products that has become a part of the culture and economy here. We all know that with cocaine, you have no respect for yourself, let alone other people.
Anyway, it never fails that where ever I go, I meet family who are working for One People, One Earth in their own way. This was a man, who saw me standing in my African clothing and dreadlocks and was immediately attracted to me. He is a dreadlocked 62 year old, Canadian Cherokee, who is part Guatemalan. His name is Louis and he spoke, French, English and Spanish fluently. Louis’s hair is adorned with very beautiful native jewellery. He has wondered from the coldest parts of Alaska to as far south as Peru. He is a master yogist and a master of the I - Ching and that was the service he provided for donations. He and I talked for a couple of hours, before parting company. He was heading to catch a boat for the Island of San Pedro on the Lagoon. My work in Attilan was not finished, so we decided we would let it be - that means if we were meant to meet each other again, so it is written, so it is done.
I retired early that night, but I thought to reorganize my bags. (For the edification of those inquiring minds, who remember the Penthouse Pilgrim, I am still travelling a lot heavier than I should.. You know, I like to look regal for every occasion; I do not like to be too cold ; nor do I like to be too hot. I also carry my toiletries; medicine bag, journal and camera to record my travels. This variety of preparation for different occasions, climates and conditions makes for my carrying 50 - 60 pounds of sheer vanity around on my back. But I reason, that as long as I can carry it, I will carry it - until I don’t chose to carry it any longer. It weren’t for this weight; there really wouldn’t be any need for accepting rides from people.) I was preparing to head back down the mountain toward the border and maybe take another night somewhere else before heading back to Mexico. But while reorganizing my belongings, I found one of the many notes I write to myself reminding me to visit certain places. This place was the healing island of San Marcos on the Attilan Lagoon. This is the island of vegetarian food; yoga centres; healing centres; etc. I needed to visit this island before leaving back for the United States of Mexico.
I need to catch two boats to get to the island of San Marcos off the lagoon. First I went to the island of San Pedro. I immediately thought of my new found friend Louis, but there wasn’t any time to stop and seek him out. Upon arriving at San Marcos, I noticed immediately amongst the horticultural beauty the commercial signs directing you to their place of business. I hadn’t walked the island 5 minutes before running across my Cherokee friend at a bond fire talking to 3 native youth. I began singing the Redemption Song¨¨ and we greeted each other enthusiastically. I immediately had a place to stay and food to eat and a wonderful time meeting all the wonderful friends he had. I told him of how I was planning to head back to Mexico to pursue my journey to Playa del Carmen for theatre. It was at that point that I learned that I could go to Guatemala City, catch a bus to Puerto Barrios and then catch a boat to an island called Livingston, where the African population of Guatemala resided. And from there I could catch a boat into Belize. I learned that it only took 5 hours to cross Belize by car - which means no more than 2-3 days at the most hitchhiking - to get to the Mexican border on the Caribbean side, which would put me a few hours from Playa del Carmen.
Louis has friends in Livingston and he also wanted to catch the full moon ceremony that was to take place in Tekal. This really only goes to show how hard God laughs at any plans we may make, because the script has already been written and all we can do is act out our parts. Well, it made all the sense in the world for me to go that way. I get to visit an ancient African village, where rastas from Jamaica have migrated; and Tekal, the ancient city of pyramids was only a few hours away to boot.
The next day, together, Louis and I headed out for Guatemala City. Louise, however, needed to stop at another place he was staying in a town called San Lucas. We caught a boat to Panajachel, an international stop for people all over the world, much like Tepoltz Land in Mexico. From Panajachel we caught the local cambie up in the mountains; from there, we hitchhiked through the mountains to another town and caught another camby to San Lucas. Louis dwelling place was on a little plot of land right on the lagoon. The land was fenced in with a garden surrounding it and an old van which served as his shelter. Louis began talking about staying in San Lucas for a few days to rest up. I was not feeling the same. I wanted to move on. We decided we would let it be until the next morning. There was a small bed in Louis’s van and it was expected to rain.
Well, I didn’t want to put Louis out so I went and found the nearest Cathedral. to seek shelter. I was invited to stay for dinner there. There was at least 50 or 60 Americans staying at this Cathedral doing volunteer work. They were kids of college age, who came from different part of our county, but mainly, Minnesota, where the Padre himself hailed from. I received a voucher to stay in a beautiful hotel that was on a beautiful piece of land - also right on the lagoon - check out time was like the old days - 12´O´clock. I thought this was an opportunity for me to shower and rest up as well and really enjoy this beautiful Atitlan lagoon, which is suppose to be one the largest in central America - second to the one in Nicaragua. .
The next morning I arose for my morning meditations. Midway between them, at around 6:30 am, Louis shows up packed and ready to go to Guatemala City. He consulted the I - Ching about me and our travel together and it told him that I was a man of resolve and peace and that we should move together. He cried as he read this to me. When we arrived in Guatemala City, we immediately went to see some of Louis´s relatives. There he learned of some family matters that needed his direct attention and could not travel any further with me. I was supposed to stay out in a place called the Casa de Immigrate. This was a place pretty far out of town where immigrants from all over the world stay for one reason or another. This place gives you 3 nights to stay and straighten out any document problems you may be having. They help you with money to get to United States etc .
I had already spent one night and all day travelling all over the capitol trying to help Louis with his family matters. I did not feel like going that far out of town for a stay place. So I sought after a place in town close to the bus station. I first went to the bus station to see about a ticket. This bus station, like most bus stations in urban settings, are down town in the redlight district, where crime has neon lights letting you know that danger is about. The last bus for Puerto Barrios left at 6 o’clock and there would be another until 4:30 am. It was 7:30. The bus station itself was closed as well, I decided to just sit and wait outside the bus station until an idea came to me or my Ancestors sent me an angel of aide. But for some unforeseen reason, I did not feel like moving from in front of the bus station.
The streets were bustling with people, while the local taco vendors were making their sales and a legion of taxis sat waiting for the last few buses to pull up and drop off passengers and potential customers. The last bus for Puerto came in at 10:00. I asked if they were going to Puerto Barrios tonight the driver said, ¨¨ No he wasn’t going until 4:30 in the morning.¨¨ I asked was it possible to stay on the bus until that time and his answer was, ¨NO:¨
As the cabs were pulling off to go home and the vendors were closing there shop, I began to talk to the Ancestors:¨ Okay, you see this situation that I am in....Yes, it is one of my own choosing and making, but what do I deserve tonight to sleep in the streets vulnerable to crack heads, muggers and robbers? I know that you hear me and care for me always...IN ALL MY WAYS! Okay, I now will await your reply, because I am not moving unless you send something or someone.¨
Well, shortly after that prayer, a young cab driver approached me, ¨You need a cab Mareno?¨(Mareno is what they call Black people in Latin America.) I said told the young man that I hadn’t any need for a cab. He said that the last bus came in and all the cabs were leaving. I told him that I was planning to stay there until the next bus comes in. He offered to take me to a hotel. I only have sufficient funds for the bus and to catch the boat to Livingston. He, too, did not understand my situation. I told him that I was a Spirit Traveller for World Peace and showed him my letter of introduction. He said Mareno, the streets are not safe for you. I said well, I am from New York City, where I learned to sleep with one open. He said there are many pistoleros (gun carrying thugs) that prowl the streets at night looking for prey. He to take me across the street to a man who owned a small, but shabby hotel, to see if the man would let me sleep on the floor of his lobby.
Needless to say, I went with this angel that the Ancestors sent to me. He knocked on the window. An elderly gentleman came to the window and the young man told him my story and asks me to show him the letter. The man read the letter and said okay that I could sleep in the narrow corridors between the door of his hotel and the locked gate at the entry of the hotel. It was a very small little box space on a hard floor, but it was just as precious as the hotel on the lagoon. The Ancestors could hear my cry of gratitude. The owner said I could sleep on the floor behind a locked door for a small tip. He notice that I had in my bill fold that carried the letter of introduction several pens. He wanted one of them I let him take his pick. He unlocked the many locks that bolted his doors and gates of the entry to his hotel and let me in. While he and the other young man were discussing my vulnerability to the streets of Guatemala capitol, I was talking with the man’s son, who might’ve anywhere from 16 to 19 years old. The son also wanted a pen from me. I gave him a pen as well.
When the lad showed the pen I gave to him to his father - somehow, between the window of time where the young cab driver was explaining to him that I have travelled the world for peace in 21 countries and my giving his son the pen - the father allowed me and my belongings to come past the gate and into the lobby. He offered me a blanket, toilet paper, towel and directed me toward the hot showers. After the shower, they stayed up with me for awhile and made sure that I was absolutely comfortable and then we bade each good night.
The next morning at 4:30, I was on the bus for Puerto Barrios, which is the tropics on the Atlantic side, where I will catch the boat for Livingston. I arrived in Puerto today at 10:00 this morning. It is very hot here. So the first thing I did was go into the bus station bathroom and get out of the cold climate clothing and into my warm climate wear. The bus station is small with several fans blowing to keep the customers cool. I found a man selling some nice soft, sweet bread for what would be the equivalent of 50 cents. I had that, with a piece of raw garlic that I keep to help fight off foreign viruses; and hot peppers that I carry to keep my blood circulating. While sitting there and eating my brunch, I remember that while I was in the Guatemala City, I went to the American Embassy, to get more pages added on to my passport for free. It was there that I learned that possibly, I may not be able to get back into Mexico; because six months is maximum amount of time per year they can give you. Oh well, that is the Ancestors problem not mine. They will figure something out.
Then I began to explore the city of Puerto Barrios when I discovered this email place that charges Q10 = ($1.00) for 6 hours on Saturdays. That is incredible huh? - That is what the Ancestors has shown me for all my mulishness. Thus far I have spent the last 3 hours writing you this update I have yet, still, to catch a boat to Livingston for who knows what will await the destiny of Hermano Estrella del Norte (Brother NorthStar).
In the Name of Liberation for Mother Earth and Humanity I bow in deep gratitude to you all.
One People, One Earth!