As many of you know, when you travel it’s a good idea to ask the locals the best places to visit rather than leave your vacation up to the tour companies.
Karl and I chose to see Lake Atitlan while in Guatemala last week. A number of people have told me about the beauty of the lake. The tours added in a boat trip and visit to three villages around the edge of the lake.
Before we booked the trip, we got a tip from a local at dinner that was reinforced by a man on the shuttle bus on the way to the lake. In fact, the man on the bus suggested we only visit one village and take in the sense of it instead of hustling to the many stops we could take.
The tip was to visit the smallest village with a boat launch, San Juan. It wasn’t one of the three most visited. It was less commercial and we wouldn’t be followed around by street vendors.
What’s more, the village is sustained by a woman’s cooperative of weavers, artists and shop owners. When I discovered that, I naturally desired to support them.
San Juan is a lovely village. We walked up the hill past three generations of women weaving and painting (and some men). The streets are clean. The walls of buildings are painted with beautiful murals. No one pressured us to buy anything.
We had a lovely lunch overlooking the lake in a restaurant run by two women.
Yet the town had been there for many years. The women seemed joyful. And all the residents seemed to take pride in their shared home.
I do some of my best work with my coaching “communities” though we are spread across the world. I honor DJ Mitsch who created The Pyramid Resource Group, a corporate coaching organization. She had the vision of pulling coaches together to not only work big contracts, but to learn and grow together on a regular basis. We meet on the phone twice a month to talk about work, life, celebrations and disappointments. Pyramid is my San Juan.
After leaving San Juan, we took a short “tuk tuk” ride to San Pedro. It was a much bigger town with a noisy, crowded market. I might have enjoyed the lively area if we hadn’t visited San Juan first. But not wanting to lose the sense of freedom I felt from walking the streets of the smaller community, we headed back to the boat launch.
Now that I am home, I look at the pictures and see another world far away. Another world that my heart can follow as I participate in my communities and work to support women doing work we love. I won’t forget.
What communities do you belong to? I would love to read more examples of the cooperative way of life.