Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Jaibalito Update

All right guys, we agree it is high time for an update!  Since some of you already managed to track us down we admit to being in Jaibalito, Guatemala for over a month now. Actually it’s been 57 days, 2 hours and 23 minutes to be exact. We arrived to Jaibalito on August 7th to meet up with Aaron’s Mom Barbe and her friend Andy and …never left. They have been our first visitors so far on our trip and we were very excited to see both of them. We had a great time showing them around the lake, shopping, hiking, cooking great food, and soaking in a hot tub.
Jaibalito is where we came for our honeymoon exactly three years ago and fell in love with it. We stayed on the same property where Barbe and Andy stayed when they were here. Our honeymoon was one of a kind because in addition to our private time we also got to spend it with our great friends from Steamboat: Travis (who was in Peace Corp in Guatemala at the time) and Andy (who was travelling through Central America and met up with us here). It was a great time! And now, we are back in Jaibalito and planning to stay here for a few months till Travis’ wedding in Guatemala to a super sweet and smart Guatemalan girl named Helga.
August 2009 with Travis, Andy and Amanda at Hans's
Travis, Helga and Aaron at Fishcreek Falls in Steamboat
We hope that this whole crew can make it down to Guatemala for Travis and Helga's Wedding!
Originally, we arrived to Lake Atitlan on August 2nd and were going to care take for a house on the other side of the lake across from Santiago. We parked our car in Santiago at Posada Santiago, unloaded most of our belongings from the truck and into a boat, and took a boat ride to where the house was. After carrying our stuff up the steep hill, through a beautiful garden with many kinds of orchids, we were able to meet the owner and see her place. We spent a few days at the house, but we decided it was not for us. We decided to live in Jaibalito instead.
Jabalito is a very unique little village on Lake Atitlan, which is believed to be one of the most beautiful lakes in the world and for good reason. 
The lake is surrounded by three volcanoes and it has an amazing steep coastline very similar to Nā Pali coast on the island of Kaua’i in Hawaii. We don’t want to brag too much, but it truly is spectacular. “Jaibalito es muy tranqilo;” this among other reasons is why we decided to stay. The weather here is like an early summer day in Steamboat, 70’s or 80’s during the day, rain in the afternoon for an hour or two and chilly at night, dipping down into the 50’s at time. The village has no roads leading to it and it is the only village on the lake that is only accessible by boat or foot. If you want to hike to it you better have great hiking boots, endurance of a horse, plenty of water and time as it is not the easiest hike. If you choose the boat ride instead, it is fun and almost always tightly packed! There are no cars, tuk-tuks, bikes, goats or horses here in Jaibalito. The village has about 600 local habitants, 8 gringos (including us), 200 chickens and 300 dogs. The dog population is slowly decreasing thanks to “the dog lady,” who started an animal friendly program to neuter the dogs in the village.
On the crossroads of Jaibalito
There are a few hotels and restaurants here in Jaibalito as well as a few small local “tiendas” (stores), “tortillerias,” and of course six of the most loudest churches on the planet. The hang out place, I mean Posada Jaibalito is definitely the most fun and affordable. For about 75Q ($10) you can stay in a dorm for a night, have a generous plate of the best in Guatemala German Goulash and Spätzle, and enjoy a liter of cold Guatemalan beer. Can’t beat it! Hans is the owner of Posada Jaibalito and he is the nicest German man with a very long reddish beard and quiet demeanor. Before we left Steamboat we knew we would be returning back to Jaibalito to see Hans again and for a plate of Goulash. 
Hans on Tripple Tigo Minute night
Whether we need to buy fresh baked German bread, stock up on good cheese, yogurt, fresh chicken or duck eggs from Hans’s fowl, Guatemalan rum, use the Internet or a printer, buy a cell phone or a portable Internet stick, do laundry, pick up a bag of fresh roasted local coffee (roasted right there in the house by Hans himself and grown in the valley), or a jar of homemade sauerkraut made by Mayan women, read the latest Gringo magazine or simply just hang out and socialize with the other gringos in town on a rainy night in Jaibalito, Hans’s place is where we go.  The list of services he provides is endless; if you need it, Hans has it.

Hans helped us find a house for rent where we now live. After Aaron’s mom and Andy left we moved to our “hike to house” in the back of town located right on the river. In fact, we have to cross the river to get to our house, which can sometimes be an interesting experience after a big rainfall. Besides the river serves as our “noise blocker;” it blocks the loud music from the churches, “maiz” (corn) machine in the mornings, kids, boats, and of course, dogs and the ever prevalent early birds called Roosters. Our house is probably the funkiest looking house in Jaibalito; it belonged to an American guy from Texas who unfortunately passed away last year. 

It costs us 600Q (about $75) per month to stay here and we have two big bedrooms, full kitchen, and a bathroom with the hottest shower in Guatemala! We also share the house with quite a few roommates.
I have only been bitten once so far.  Don't worry they are not deadly.
By our house we have a garden with many beautiful flowers including roses and there are four avocado trees, four orange trees, ten banana trees, a passion fruit vine and coffee scattered around the property. Aaron picks eight or so avocados a couple of times a week and we are able to enjoy fresh guacamole almost every day. Aaron also started a veggie garden so that soon we can enjoy our own fresh produce.

We have been having a lot of fun on the lake settling into our new little house, visiting the other villages surrounding the lake, studying Spanish, hiking, making new friends, practicing Pilates together, working on the garden, cooking and baking, reading, and meditating. It took us a few weeks to get organized here as life here happens pretty slowly. Our plan is to be able to lead at least a simple conversation with Helga’s family and friends at the wedding so that means we still have a lot of work to do in the next few months and improve our Spanish. We have been practicing our Spanish every day… with the people of Jaibalito who can only speak Kaqchikel (one of the 22 indigenous Mayan languages spoken around the lake). 
The one and only fat rabbit in Jaibalito, fiesta dinner for the whole family in the future
We are also going to travel around Guatemala as there is so much to see here, volunteer, and find some odd jobs. On Tuesdays and Thursdays Aaron walks over to Santa Cruz where he is currently volunteering at C.E.C.A.P. (Centro de Capacitacion) in Santa Cruz. He is helping with a carpentry workshop for adolescent boys and also gives tips in the kitchen during lunch. 
Guatemalan boys at C.E.C.A.P. making picture frames for an exposition
After a group of Israelis stumbled upon us at our house one evening looking for one of Jaibalito’s many beautiful waterfalls, we saw a need for a trekking service. Aaron is planning to lead hiking trips around Jaibalito to visitors and I am going to instruct Pilates mat classes in a few hotels in Jaibalito and Santa Cruz. It is the rainy season until the end of October so we plan on travelling to the Pacific coast this week before we are busy with trekking and Pilates.

So that is what we have been up to lately; we miss our family and friends very much, but at the same time we have been appreciating our time away from stress of daily work and the typical American way of life. Between here and Oaxaca we traveled around the Yucatan peninsula, Belize, and Northern Guatemala and a lot has happened since then. Since we have been on the road and camping most of that time with no consistent access to the Internet we realize that we have some catching up to do. We are planning to relive our memories and write some posts about that time in between; thank you all for your patience and understanding. As always, the invitation is open for visitors to come and see us; until the middle of December we have an extra bed at our place. Come January we are back on the road!

Till next time! Hasta luego.

Santa Cruz
Dehulling and roasting coffee at Hans's
Jaibalito below
"One day with practice I will have that kind of balance, one day!"
not sure who had a worse day
Learning how to spin cotton in San Juan

Enjoying Aaron's Birthday at Ven Aca, the high end restaurant in Jaibalito
"Quit taking pictures of me gringo" says the horse
Busy Mercado day, this is where we buy our veggies in Panajachel
Gateau de Riz Aux Figues (Rice Pudding Cake with Figs)
El Jardin de Aaron

1 comment:

  1. Great stories! I've enjoyed each one and am looking forward to more!
    The last picture here, those long flowers, is that scopolamine?? (