Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Ceremony Schedule and Visiting

Oops… a bit thick ‘Drinking’ Chocolate… Mayan Potion... the cup artistically modeled from cacao drinking cups found in a Native American archeological site in Chaco Canyon (2000 km from the nearest cacao), New Mexico, USA from 900-1000 years ago.  They are the same shape as Mayan cacao drinking cups of the same age, and they test positive for compounds found only in cacao.

A visitor heads up: Because of travel, there will be no ceremonies in San Marcos on the following 2020 dates:

April  Sun 12, Wed 15. Sun 19, Wed 22, Sun 26 Join us in Iceland and Ireland [April 20-23]!  *Likely these dates will be canceled due to the corona virus hysteria.*
June  Possible we will not be here at some point …stay tuned
July Sun 5, Wed 8, Sun 12  Join us in Valle de Bravo, Mexico!
August  Sun 2, Wed 5, Sun 9  Join us in Pereira, Colombia!

  We continue regular classes / ceremonies on Lake Atitlan in the Guatemalan town of San Marcos la Laguna.  I have a school there in 'getting out of your own way' affectionately known as 'The Cacao Tribe's porch'.  Public ceremonies are Wednesday and Sunday at 12:30pm, but write us at to be sure.  Local directions and ceremony info near the bottom of this page.  If you are coming here to learn from us, please see the 'homework' paragraph at the bottom of this page to prepare yourself... you'll be glad you did.

“I can't say a big enough thank you to you, Keith and Barbara as well as everyone else who held space in today's ceremony....... My heart feels like it has been blasted open by so much love and right now my inner child is chilling in a secure and blissful state whilst grinning from ear to ear. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the incredible impact that you have had on my life and for teaching me that I really need to get out of my way”  …first ceremony

One of the most beautiful things about San Marcos is that there are numerous spiritual teaching, healing, and yoga places here and around the Lake (yoga capital of Central and South America).  Travelers, most of whom are backpackers in their 20’s and 30’s, can live cheaply (basic hostel accommodation with shared bath and sometimes kitchen begins about US$300? per month, dry season) in a place known for its spiritual energies, great climate, and on one of the world’s most beautiful lakes (50 sq mi, 128 sq km)… and meet those with similar interests from all over the world.  I know of nothing else like it in all of North to South America.  Lake Atitlan is on National Geographic's list of the 10 most beautiful places in the world.

As with any of the earth’s ‘vortex’ places, higher energies are more available here… it is like being a year ahead in time (it used to be more like 2 years).  As I also work with higher energies, I am like a 'pig in mud' here... right at home!  And so are many others.

“I travelled the world looking for answers, and I found it here~It has changed my life and I hope it will offer the same for you.”  …World spiritual traveler

Lake Atitlan and 3 Volcanoes from the Valley above San Marcos

In rainy (end of April into mid October) season (usually sunny till about noon to 2 pm), when i am not traveling internationally, I have 2 ceremonies per week, Wednesday and Sunday, plus private sessions.  By November or December I resume a dry season schedule of 2 to 3 ceremonies per week as attendance allows. 

I ask Q200 (US$28) per ceremony, half that for regulars, with a sliding scale for those who can’t afford gringo restaurants and stay in hostels rather than hotels (work exchange is possible… gardening, construction, and website).  [In the economy here, an hour’s massage is Q250 (US$35).]  Ceremonies begin 12:30 pm and go 5-6 hours; leave at any time.  Cacao is served and optional… the energies are grand either way.  January and February are the busiest months here.

Please see the 'Ceremony Info' section, last on this page, before attending.  Blessings!

There is a Facebook page called "The Cacao Tribe".  for general cacao sharing, and   specifically for our cacao.  Click 'like' to join. 

For Keith's posts on the spiritual journey:  

To purchase our cacao, please go to our new e-commerce website:  blessings

Visiting San Marcos on Lake Atitlan

           Lake Atitlan, 50mi² (128km²), dry season.  San Marcos at white arrow about 12mi (19km) away... and our 3 volcanoes

A visitor heads up: Because of travel, there will be no ceremonies in San Marcos on the following 2020 dates:

April  Sun 12, Wed 15. Sun 19, Wed 22, Sun 26 Join us in Iceland and Ireland [April 20-23]!  *Likely these dates will be canceled due to the corona virus hysteria.*
June  Possible we will not be here at some point …stay tuned
July Sun 5, Wed 8, Sun 12  Join us in Valle de Bravo, Mexico!
August  Sun 2, Wed 5, Sun 9  Join us in Pereira, Colombia!

Note: I live in San Marcos la Laguna... there is another San Marcos in Western Guatemala... it is much bigger and is where the average Guatemalan would send someone looking for 'San Marcos'... you want the San Marcos on Lake (Lago) Atitlan.  

Guatemala has one international airport, Aurora (GUA) in Guatemala City, with many international flights.  Sometimes, but not always, travelers from Europe find it cheaper to book a flight to New York, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or Mexico City, El Salvador or Cancun Mexico, and then a separate flight onward.  If booked together the 'over the pond' flight is often more. Usually flying Spirit Airlines from the States or all the way is much cheaper if you can handle the attitude.  It may be similar for those from the Pacific flying through the western USA.  Travel during Xmas and New Year or Easter (Samana Santa) is not recommended in Central America... too busy and expensive!

Some may find it better to fly into Mexico City and then a US$200 (last report, round trip) to Guatemala City on Interjet  Or try a new airline, Volaris  Or try flying from Mexico City to Tuxtla Gutierrez in Mexico, bus to San Cristobal de las Casas, and local buses or shuttle from there.  Those who have bused all the way from Mexico City say they saved little or nothing, and it was a lot of time and work!

The cheapest way to get here is often to fly into Cancun, Mexico through a regular flight or cheap under-booked tour charter (try Pullman Tour or Thomas Cook - and there are travel agencies called 'bucket shops' that specialize in these unsold last-minute seats).  Volaris flies direct Cancun to Guatemala City, and often has cheap tickets.  Or by Bus, 3 choices: 1: Through Belize with its entry tax and cash US$25 [$40?] exit tax.  2: 13 hr bus to Palenque, the 'river road' (see guidebook) to Flores and Tikal, 12 hr overnight bus to Guatemala City, 4 hr here.  3: 17 hr overnight bus to San Cristobal de las Casas (through Palenque), and then a long day of chicken buses, or a direct van shuttle (US$40) to San Pedro la Laguna stopping in San Marcos, or to Panajachel and a boat to San Marcos.

Volaris and Interjet are Mexican airlines that may not appear in the search sites.  They fly here and have connections to several US cities... cheap and reliable. 

Some airlines require a round trip, flight out, or onward ticket to get here, unless you show residency.  Check with your airline.  Go to:  Schedule a bus ticket out of the country within the 90 day non-extended visa limit. (You don't need to pay.) They will send you an email confirmation. Print out the confirmation to use at the airport as your ticket out.  “When I flew in with Spirit, they made me buy a return ticket before I could board.  When we landed, I went to the Spirit desk for a refund.”  Most airlines have a 24 hr refund for most tickets, so have a credit card handy at the ticket counter for check-in.
From the Guatemala City Aurora airport (GUA), there will be folks with signs for ‘Antigua Shuttle’ waiting at the exit where the public meets arrivals.  Usually they are all for the same van and charge US$12 (they will take US currency) for the hour ride to Antigua and a bank (be sure to get a large assortment of smaller bills).  This is the easiest way to exit Guate City. 

If you arrive at the airport before about 12:15 pm, maybe later, you can catch a 2 pm shuttle direct to Pana for $25. There is a direct shuttle to Pana maybe twice a day.  You get the ticket at the booth just before the airport exit doors.

If you are arriving at the airport late in the evening, there will be no shuttle… I suggest reservations at Patricia’s B&B about US$21 single, US$41 double… 502 country code for Guatemala then 2261-4251 or 5402-3256 about 5 min from the airport (they have internet).  They will pick you up at the airport and take you to the proper bus or shuttle in the morning.  English spoken… nice folks

A shuttle from Antigua direct to San Pedro stopping in San Marcos leaves Antigua at 1:45-2 PM every day, US$15?... contact Maya Tzutujil Shuttle 7721-8046  or 4301-0580 office    5420-4970 24hr cell Antonio 

From Antigua there are regular packed shuttles (US$5-6) to Panajachel (Pana)… the Plus agency is reliable… Universal agency is unreliable.  There is a big bus (not a converted school bus) 7:00 am (arrive 15 min early!) that leaves from 4a Calle Poniente 34 at the Panadaria (bakery) Colombia next to the Backpackers Hotel... very comfortable (a dollar less than the shuttle and a bit more than chicken buses).  The travel agencies won’t tell you about it (no commission).  Not sure if this bus still runs.

I recommend not taking ‘chicken buses’ unless you are a skilled budget international traveler or want to be… too many theft opportunities.  You will need a pack cover on top of the bus if it rains.  The chicken bus to San Pedro la Laguna, or Panajachel, can be found just off Roosevelt (major street) at a place called Calle 41 where numerous buses wait.  The last bus leaves about 5 PM; make sure you get the bus to San Pedro la Laguna and not San Pedro!  The bus boys at this stop will lie to you to get you on their bus... beware!  You will have to pay 50-70 quetzales ($US6.50-9.33) for an airport taxi to the bus. (Usually for tourists without fluent Spanish they will start with about 2-3 times the price and you have to bargain at several taxis...)  Instead of the taxi, you can take a bus to Roosevelt, bus to the right to get to the opposite side of the street (not simple), and then another bus to Calle 41 (buses are Q1-2).  

Many hotel possibilities in Antigua from US$5-6 and up.  Bargaining hotel rates is easier in the rainy season when there aren't many tourists.  Beware damp lower-floor rooms.  Lots of art galleries, monastery ruins, great restaurants, and things to see and do in Antigua, Guate’s colonial city.  Mountains of artisan goods in a place next to the market, but prices are higher than in Panajachel here on Lake Atitlan.  Get your bargaining skills on, get them down as far as they will go, and then walk away and it will usually drop another notch!  

There is - used to be, anyway - a more costly (about US$10), less frequent, but more convenient shuttle direct from Antigua to San Pedro stopping right here in San Marcos.  This shuttle leaves the airport in Guatemala City every day at 1:30 PM (about US$22 to San Marcos via Antigua).  (Call Maya Tzutujil at 7721-8046 or longer hours cell 4301-0580 (english spoken usually) for airport or Antigua pickup).  Or visit any of the numerous travel agents in Antigua (other operators may cost more).  You can book a return to Antigua or the airport (or Mexico) here in San Marcos.  

Public chicken buses leave Antigua from behind the market... take one to Chimaltenango, then any bus to Los Enquentros.  This bus may continue all the way to 'Kilometer 148' where you can find a bus or mini van toward San Pedro (may have to change in Santa Clara) getting off in San Pablo, and a tuk tuk to San Marcos.  Or exit at Los Enquentros for a Solola or Panajachel (Pana) bus... your bus might be going all the way to Pana, also.  Transport is going to slow considerably after 4 pm and may be impossible after dark.  The bus from Calle 41 to San Pedro, hopping off in San Pablo, is about 4 hours.  A TukTuk from San Pablo to San Marcos is Q5 per person (you better have exact change), but they may want extra for a big pack and will want at least double after dark.

Private transport can be arranged from airport to San Marcos.  Q600 car to Q700 van (US$85-100).  Contact us.

The boat from Pana to San Marcos leaves from the San Pedro dock (muelle) in Pana… there is a San Pedro 'directo' and the boat you want... ask for San Marcos.  Departures every half hour or hour in the evening.  Don’t ask the price of the boat… just pay a reasonable tourist rate of Q10 each, or Q15 if you must… pay without stopping when you get off acting as if you know… if you stop you may be paying 2 to 3 times as much if you can’t be firm or need change.  Boats run from 6am to 7:30pm, 7days a week, but without the last boat on holidays.  (The last boat in the other direction leaves San Pedro at 5pm and is in San Marcos about 10 min later.)  There will be kids at the San Marcos dock to carry your bag if need be, except for boats after dark… Q5 per carrying kid is very generous but you better set a price beforehand... and give them your coins from the last country.

No vaccinations are required to visit Guatemala and very few tourists get any. Over the years i would say that in Central America the biggest problem along these lines is Hepatitis A (from food)... unusual but it's here, and for most it is a very serious infection for which the only cure is time.  The only exception is that tourists arriving in some southern countries in Central America (like Panama) from some parts of South America may be required to have a Yellow Fever vaccination certificate to travel onward (there are ways to bypass this through taking local buses, etc.).

San Marcos general info:

There is a FaceBook page for the San Marcos Atitlan Community    where you can post for rentals or ask questions.  There is an extensive information directory, including more shuttle and airport hotel possibilities, here:
More rental help here: 

In the last few years Air B&B has arrived and rents have really gone up, especially for houses or places with kitchens.  A simple room or hostal is about $10 per night for longer stays. Use the above Facebook page... say something about yourself... start months ahead [like Aug for rentals after Xmas] and keep trying.  We are not familiar with the situation at any particular time as it so changes.

In San Marcos, there is lots of noise from church loudspeakers, especially early mornings and evenings.  If this is a problem, try Casa Real just down my street and right on the lake. 
Elevation at the Lake is 5100 ft (1550 m).  Cool in shade, warm in sun… eternal spring.  It rarely gets below 60°F (15°C); higher elevation places in Guate are cooler.  All of Guatemala is on Central Standard Time year-round, GMT-6 hours.  English is the general language in San Marcos among travelers, Spanish in markets and with locals.  My ceremonies are in English, with easy room for any translation necessary... if you bring the translator (often several Spanish translators are here).

Lake swimming is cool and refreshing… at the ‘rocks’ swimming place in San Marcos, do not leave anything laying unprotected on shore while swimming… bandito kids are fast…  If you want to hike, hire a local guide or don’t take anything you don’t want to lose… beautiful waterfalls… the mountain behind town is 4300ft (1310m) above the lake… 100 meters below the summit of Volcan San Pedro across the lake.  

You will need your passport in a bank, but don't carry it with you around the lake.  Get a xerox copy or 2 of your passport picture page and the page with your entry stamp... if you lose or contribute your passport to banditos, that copy will make things Much easier!

***Some notes for banking machine (ATM) users in Guatemala: you may only be able to get 1 or 2 transactions equivalent to US$130-280 each per day.  There are no banks in San Marcos, but there is now an ATM (if it has cash) and nowhere that takes a credit card (that would require a reliable internet connection).  

Pick up plenty of cash including a lot of small bills in Antigua or Pana.  The Machines give Q100's... tourists arrive with stacks... and change can be hard to find.  Some tiendas (little shops) will not take a bill of 100 Quetzales (US$14) if you are spending less than Q20, and small fruit and veggie sellers will not be able to make change.  Often banks will not have change either... I have been in large very modern big-city banks with a dozen tellers... who didn't have small change - and in some banks in Pana that could only change a single Q100 bill into something smaller... and had to get that from other tellers.  Exchange rates are best in Banco Industrial in Pana [max $200] and much less in Ban Rural [max $500]

There is also a decade-long scam programmed into the automatic banking machines all over Central America where for international cards after you enter your pin and withdrawal amount you occasionally get some sort of a message that the machine couldn’t verify your account or whatever… the money is withdrawn from your bank but you don’t get it.  This is quite common.  Record the time, use your card again, and check your balance later if you get such a message… your home bank understands and rarely gives a refund problem. 

*There is a new scam* (it's in San Pedro across the lake) where your account number and pin are immediately sent elsewhere by internet ... used... and your bank will instantly cancel your card.  Bring a second or third card for your account.  The banking machine at Banco Industrial in Pana seems to be the most reliable (so far).

"Dozens of victims (mostly foreign tourists) have had their bank accounts emptied remotely from places such as Bogota, Lima, Caracas and the Dominican Republic shortly after using their ATM cards at a slew of banks in Antigua and other places. We strongly encourage persons not to use ATMs and if at all possible to withdraw money from a teller inside a bank with your credit card."  ... USA Embassy website (and from the teller you can get more than from the machine, but in San Pedro you may have to be insistent with the teller... tell them your previous card was canceled)

We seriously suggest you have a checking account with 2 or more credit cards with different numbers for your account where you only move by internet from a savings account whatever you are going to take out [allowing for your transaction fee]... so there is never much more in the account with your cards than you need.  Do not have your saving account linked with automatic overdraft transfer.  Before you come, set it up with your bank to only do transactions from the country you are visiting... plus perhaps your home country. Change it as you travel through Skype or something.  

Scams and bank fees are both good reasons to forget ATMs and instead do a bank transfer for cash-pick up at a bank here… use Banco Industrial in Panajachel (the major international bank in Guate) or Ban Rural is closer in San Pedro.  For Europeans,  can send money from your account to Banco Industrial in Pana, or to Ban Rural (it may take a call to the bank to get it unblocked).  Cheap, reliable and fast. (Up to £800 costs just £1 to send). North-Americans have to make do with Xoom, a PayPal service , but still better than getting skinned at the cash machine. For those outside of USA and Europe, an alternative to Azimo and Xoom is World Remit. Offers AUD to QTZ (and many more other currency variations than most others), with cash pickup.  This is now the best way to receive money here.  The exchange rate these services give you is almost as good as Banco Industrial and much better than Ban Rural... and you pick up Quetzales at the bank with your passport and password.  Remember to get lots of smaller bills.

Please note that many Guatemalan banks will only accept maybe US$200 of cash to change into Quetzales... and that only in clean crisp $50's or $100's... $20's and smaller are often refused.  One tiny tear or an ink spot, stain, writing, or mark will cause them to be rejected.  Really.

The water in the lake or faucets can NOT be drunk.  No eating from wet dishes or using to brush teeth.  Keep your mouth shut swimming or showering.  Parasitic amoebic cysts are endemic, Amoebiasis and occasionally Giardia.
Highly recommended: a small AAA battery (replacement coin batteries can be hard to find) LED light or headlamp for navigating the walkways around town at night.  Consider an mp3 player (not an iPod without its computer unless you can connect a USB stick to it) for optional audios I have available to extend inner work for long-term students.  A USB portable external hard drive (Fat 32 or ExFat formatted if you have a Mac and want stuff from a PC) for all the music and spiritual things you may encounter here if you are so oriented (it is not unusual to pick up hundreds of Gigabytes).  We have 110-120 volt AC power here, same as USA, tho less reliable. 

Insect repellent.  The natural type can be hard to find and expensive.  Bugs are rarely a big problem, except for sand flies (no-see-ums) that are common to plague on the Caribbean coast (and some other places), and rain-forest rainy season mosquitoes.  If you like to do a lot of trail walking and are bothered by Chiggers (Red Bugs/ Coloradias), a tiny bottle of clear nail polish is available in markets across the lake.
The sun at 5000 feet (1500 m) elevation burns a lot faster and tans a lot slower than sea-level.  Hats here are $3 if you bargain.  By the way, a good amount of cacao in your system is an excellent sunburn preventative.
Here in San Marcos, a few wear sneakers, most sandals, and some go year-round in flip-flops.
Pants as heavy as Jeans if the weather is cool/rainy.  Possibly a light under-layer like a yoga pant or tights - can feel really comfy on cool rainy evenings.  Jacket and/or sweater.  Wool socks if you only have sandals (good for mosquitoes).  Long sleeve shirt.  Clothes for sun and warm, and hot.  My ceremony space can get a cool breeze off the lake so a jacket or wrap is handy for later afternoon.
Backpack for carrying things around town, at Ruins, etc… This might be your carry-on. Or get a shoulder-bag here.
Poncho, rain jacket, or umbrella in San Marcos rainy season.  Other parts of Guate, especially the coast, have irregular and unpredictable rainy periods.  In season here it rains most every afternoon/ evening and sometimes all day.

Besides dozens of sellers with inexpensive locally sewn goods, for US$6 at the used fabric market and another $8.50 at the right tailor, you can have custom gusset-crotch pants made from beautiful Guatemalan fabric that are far more comfortable than jeans… and most likely shorts from the same fabric for $5 more if you got a large piece. Guatemalan weaving is special.  About bargaining… get them down as far as they will go and then walk away and the price goes down another notch.  Usually starting prices are 2 to 4 times what they will sell for.

For more info:  message us

Ceremony Info:

Public cacao ceremonies in San Marcos on Lake Atitlan are Wed and Sun beginning at 12:30 pm at our house.  Reservations not needed.  Come play!

We ask that folks not arrive with a stomach full of food or drink, and without a lot of caffeine or animal dairy products in the system.  A normal meal a couple hours before, or a light meal closer to ceremony time, is fine.

To reach our house, walk East (direction of Pana) out of town (up the path from the boat dock to el centro, San Marcos la Laguna, turn right) and about 10 min on the main road toward the next town of Tzununa.  At the second high stone retaining wall on your left take the public cement road to the right, steeply downhill, to the first gate on the left with the cacao signs on the door. 

Do we need to bring anything?  Water suggested... we have quality agua pura refill water here.  A wrap or jacket, it gets cool later in the afternoon.  Seasonal rain gear.
How long does it last?  About 5 hours, often more... can leave when you need to.

Cost? We ask Q200 for those in hotels rather than hostels... who came on a shuttle rather than chicken bus... or eat in the gringo restaurants rather than local comedores or street food.  Half that for regulars and those not in the above higher-price accommodations.  Sliding scale including work exchange for those with very limited funds. 

Are there boats going back to San Pedro in the evening?...  The last boat leaves Pana at 7:30 pm (except major holidays) and can, rarely, arrive in San Marcos in 20 minutes... more likely 30-45 min.  The boats before that leave Pana at 6:40, 6:00 (usually), 5:30 and 5:00 pm.  The last boat in the other direction (toward Pana) leaves San Pedro at 5:00 pm and is in San Marcos 10-15 min later.  Please use the main dock in San Marcos (15-20 min walk away) as no guarantee the boatman will stop at other docks in town, especially after dark.

We have for sale cacao as blocks of ground cacao or bags of peeled beans… Maya Nut / Ujuxte [ Central American SuperFood]… and White Copal incense… and a 32 Gb thumb drive of collected teachings, talks, and meditations… available at the house.                 

We have some resources on the web for those who want to get up to speed with the sort of work we do.  Homework.  We don’t do the Shifting and Empath trainings as often as we used to do them… and this all is good preparation for those who want to go deeper in this work and get the most out of the time they spend here.   The Art of Ascension, English  Sound Cloud trainings and Meditations, more to come 

For Keith's posts on the spiritual journey: 

  Bless and injoy, keith and barbara

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations on opening an expanded forum on the web, though which you can share your considerable Gifts, Keith.