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Hiking Cerro De Oro On Lake Atitlán

Sunday, August 4th we hiked to the top of the Cerro de Oro.  

We had arrived at IMAP (imapermaculture.wordpress.com - amazing place) on Saturday night and were greeted and situated in our new, beautiful home (complete with a HUGE volcanic rock jutting into the living room, and a beautifully painted outdoor octagonal kitchen) by Cristina, a joyful, strong, patient, young Guatemalan woman.  She told us that the next morning at 7 her father was leading a hike up the ancient volcano.  I was exhausted but how many chances would we have?  - just this one. 

Cerro de Oro had been intriguing us since the planning of this trip in the states.  We would later hear tales of greed, mysterious mortal failures, and spiritual riches bestowed on heart-centered people by this ancient giant.  I had a feeling - I really wanted to go.  Lucia was finally convinced (long story full of coincidences) to wake up at 6:30am.  

A little after 7am, we met the other two travelers, Diane and Jimmy, both permaculture enthusiasts from the US, and Chico, our wonderful guide.  Most people here speak the local dialect and/or Kakchikel, and Spanish is their third language.  Chico barely speaks Spanish, but he knows enough to keep people safe, always smiling and connected with the heart energy.

We finally took off down a little dirt path on what was supposedly a one-hour hike.  I had my doubts, as all having to do with "time" here is otherworldly at best.   After less than ten minutes I was panting and needed to stop.  (I found out one week later that our altitude at the lake was one mile above sea level!)  We took our first break under  the huge tree you see in the middle of the picture collage.  Chico told me to rest "sin pena" (without embarrassment) and to stop as much as I liked.  He signaled me to get to the front of the line so everyone could follow at my pace.  To be sure, I was really embarrassed, but it was either do as Chico said or possibly have a heart attack.  We continued and I was chatting it up with Diane, an economics major from Iowa.  I asked the group to stop again.  I was having a hard time.  We were about 20 minutes into this.  Chico told me to breath in and out of my nose, only.  He said this would be good for my heart.  I decided I would not talk to anyone, anymore.  I connected better with the spirit of the mountains and I asked for mercy from the spirit of Cerro de Oro, as every breath in and out of my nose took concentration and sacrifice.  I gave the hike my all.

We journeyed through many small farms, taking a left in the middle of a corn field, here, and then a right up a small ancient looking stone road, there, passing men carrying truly enormous loads of firewood or bean vines on their heads and backs. We took a left on a more modern looking road, and then up and down and through jungles full of coffee, corn, beans, squash, cactus fruit and all sorts of other herbs and edibles I am not familiar with.  All this cultivated jungle was strewn with volcanic stones of every size imaginable. 

After about an hour we came to the base of Cerro de Oro, which looks like an elephant! (see picture bottom right)  Once there, it was straight up - just me (and the others, of course - with their own stories!)  and the spirit of the ancient volcano - I was praying and also ooooing and ahhhhing at the amazing views!  Lucia was taking a million pictures every few feet - each time the views were getting better and better!

When we got to the elephant's rear end, there was a ceremonial site. Lucia and I offered some hair we pulled out from the back of our necks, and said a little prayer of thanksgiving.  The group sat to rest.  After a while, we heard a holler from very high!  It was Lucia, perched on a massive volcanic rock above us!  I could not even see her.  I told her, calmly and firmly, to come down this minute so as not to hold up the group.  I knew that people were counting on this hike ending at a certain time so they could go on with their plans for the day.  She said she would do so.  She did not come down.  I repeated my motherly request - and that is when I realized what was happening.  Lucia was stuck more than 20 feet up in the air.  She could not come down.  "Mama - I can't get the camera!"  "Forget about the camera, Lucia - see if you can just get down, please."  At this point we were all huddled around the base of this enormous, pointy boulder of lava and Lucia was literally hanging by her fingertips (!) from the top - her little bare feet groping around for a foothold.  "You're doing great" I called up (this is always what I say when I find her casually enjoying herself somewhere unfathomably high that has my whole nervous system shaking to the core.  Jimmy, the tallest of us, tried to reach Lucia by climbing on a nearby rock but he could not get close.  Diane put her pack down and began to scale the bottom of the rock, but it was hard going and she did not get any closer.  I remained as verbally calm as I could, but really this was a bit much.  Chico took off his hiking boots and socks and was clearly ready to put his whole self into the task and do whatever it took to get Lucia down safely.  I stood at the bottom looking up and keeping as positive and calm as I could.  I knew I was in no physical shape to do anything at all except pray and say nice things.

This is when Lucia suddenly came sliding down the flat face at top speed toward me.  She landed like a cat on a pile of leaf litter inches from a jagged rock the size of a bear.  

"Well, that was brave of you" Diane exclaimed to Lucia.  Then Lucia told us that, actually,  it was an accident because she had been aiming to land her feet on a little bump of dirt jutting beneath her, but when she dropped onto it, it broke and she fell the next ten feet. 

Thank God (the gods?) etc.  But the camera was still up there and I had a renewed sense of its importance.   We could actually see it.  Everyone took their places again to rescue the technology.  Jimmy poked at it with a long, loopy stick/vine until it fell.

I've included for you a collage of our hike.  (It took two hours and ten minutes, although Chico can do it in a relaxed hour!)  Really, this is a magical and beautiful place full of the most lovely people!  We leave today and I will do my best to post about other adventures! May you all be well! 

 

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Mayan Families with Sharon

Have you ever had a dream or calling?  What happened?  Here is a little info on Mayan Families - check out their web site for how it began ... 

Mayan Families is a very busy place.  On any given day, the dozens of employees are busy managing other dozens of volunteers who come from all over the world to help provide housing, clothing, shoes, food, live chickens, medical care, meals, pre-school care, ETC (it is a big "etc.")  Walking into their main compound, where we worked each day, there would most often be at least one hundred people busy with so many activities, or waiting to be attended to.  The place was always full of babies, toddlers and young children, adults and elders.  People with disabilities also receive care there.  There is also care for dogs and cats - it is truly unbelievable.  There is a full technical support ensemble and a photography crew  present and on-call constantly.  Mayan Families also gives people loans so they can start and run their own businesses.  It is really very beautiful.  I am only describing what I saw. There is so much more!  Please go to their web site (mayanfamilies.org) for more information and please support their work.  You can sponsor a child and/or help in many other ways.  Here is a picture of Lucia and I on our last day with the founder, Sharon Smart-Poage, who is one of the shiniest and busiest people I've ever met!  Thank you Sharon, Jeaneth (our GREAT host !) and EVERYONE at Mayan Families!  May your path be open and full of clarity and an abundance of support always!

 

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Lucia at Mayan Families

Here is a picture of Lucia playing with the children at Mayan Families last week!  She worked with them in their pre-school Monday through Friday every morning until about noon.   It was a very nurturing, educational and loving program.  Here they are at recess.

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Mayan Families

Oh my goodness - Lucia and I have been so busy!  Last week at Mayan Families in Panajachel, Lucia worked with children and elders and I taught three two-day trainings on trauma release using a combination of transpersonal, nature-connected, expressive-arts-aligned psychotherapies and my own style of meridian tapping which I've been developing over about six years. The workshops and individual treatments were truly wonderful and transformational.  There has been virtually no time to blog, etc. I'm sending a picture of myself with some of the teachers I worked with there.  Please look up mayanfamilies.org and support them - they are great!


 

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Guatemala

Hello!   I'm in Guatemala giving seminars on trauma release and I'd love to share some of the gorgeous marvels of this experience with you!  Guatemala is absolutely stunning!   Here is a picture of me in Chimaltenango at the Fesitval de Santiago, with the frankincense-bearing elders last week! I'll send more images and info soon.

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Departure Day

Getting ready to leave means, to the best of our abilities, creating beautiful closure with the beloved (and sometimes not so beloved) past.  Last week's Gathering in Gratitude Camp was one of the MOST BELOVED, empowering, difficult and GORGEOUS experiences of my life: hard to top, really.  Thank you ALL who participated and who came to presentations!  The "shows" were profound, full of the stories created by participants of all ages, with original music, drama and dances.  We worked all through a week-long heat wave!  It was like being in a sweat lodge for six days: giving thanks over and over again, praying for safety, goodness and fun, creating a future that feels free and authentic, for each and all of us, supporting each other and sweating the whole time except when we took cooling off breaks in the sacred waters.  There is a picture here of our time at the stream.

 

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Welcome

Hello & Welcome to my new Blog
It is a beautiful day here at Mahalo Art Center.  We just had an angel light activation last night, when Jupiter bestowed blessings to us as it passed the Sun (astrologically).  There are three angels working in the gardens, including a WWOOFer, and Alison and I at the admin end of life in the kitchen. Welcome to Mahalo Art Center energy! This is the first of many blogs on many topics. 

Thanks to Alison Beth Levy for her astrological readings and David Kuhn for leading the angel light activation!