The boat ride to Santa Cruz, Guatemala, was cold. The wind blew fervently as the boat hit rough patches, splashing swaths of freezing water on the passengers seated in front. Lake Atitlan is very windy. While in Nicaragua, everybody told me not to miss this Guatemalan lake. Arriving here, I understood what they meant.
With the boat tied to the dock, I exited the boat and searched for accommodations. I bypassed the Lost Iguana Hostel near the dock, because I wanted some solitude. I chose a guesthouse called Casa Rosa, which had a setting out of a novel: a wall separated it from the waterfront, and inside the wall laid an overgrown garden. I was flooded with images from the classic children’s book The Secret Garden.
I entered the garden enthralled by my surroundings and found the proprietor. I signed in and took the keys to my room. A minor setback struck when the zipper to my backpack broke, requiring me to look for a tailor. The proprietor told me a tailor could be found in the village above.
It was a strenuous walk up the path to village, but it had its rewards. Between the heavy beating of my heart and the panting of my lungs, the awe-inspiring views of this volcano-ringed lake muffled my body's weakness.
Along the path, several Mayan women passed me. They were hunched over, carrying large loads in packs that rested upon their backs and connected to straps around their heads. I was amazed at how they carried these packs in skirts and with ease.
The town of Santa Cruz was a community of densely packed brick and concrete buildings built among high hills. I passed the school. In the school courtyard, a group of boys were playing soccer. Nearby I found the tailor's house. I ended up returning here several times due to always missing him when he was in his shop.
I spent some of my time in Santa Cruz playing guitar in the gazebo by the water. I watched boats carrying passengers cruise by, framed by a view of the two volcanoes side by side on the horizon.
A group of Mayan kids came by and saw me play. I tried to show the kids how to play a couple simple chords. One boy came up and made an attempt, but lost interest and scurried off. I tried to see if they could sing but to equal success. These kids ended up asking me for money when they left. I made up some story about a big fat man in a red suit giving presents in the next couple weeks to get them off my back. It was December, but I don't know how anybody could believe such nonsense.
I spent much of my time here in solitude. But playing guitar to the red sunset and the starry night sky, watching the wind blow ripples on the lake, I felt connected.