arriving in San Marcos de Atitlán

panoramic view of the San Pedro volcano on Lake Atitlán

A panoramic view of the Tolimán, Atitlán and San Pedro volcanoes on Lake Atitlán

After four days spent in the kitchen at the SONATI hostel in León, cooking for money to buy my ticket to Guatemala, I have finally arrived in San Marcos de La Laguna on Lake Atitlán. This is a magical place, in an incredible setting deep within a crater, surrounded by volcanic mountains, water and lots of really good vibes from the people who have always lived here as well as those who having once arrived decided to make it their home. I came here to work as a volunteer with Charlie Rendall and his team at the Return to the Forest natural building school. Charlie is a busy guy, teaching courses and working on building works that he gets contracted for. Here’s a photo of the very Asian-looking Tai Chi Tao Temple he built in San Marcos, a beautiful building that everybody recognises in the area.

Tai Chi Tao Temple in San Marcos de Atitlán

Tai Chi Tao Temple in San Marcos de Atitlán


So, my day-to-day life starts with a 30-minute walk to the neighbouring town of Tzununa, where I get up on the roof of a 4-storey building made almost entirely of bamboo (the ground floor has stone walls) to help the carpenters finish off the fascia boards. At noon I walk back home and cook myself something to get ready for the afternoon, of which I haven’t had many chilled ones yet because I’m bent on making myself a cob oven to be able to continue the business I started in León. After two weekends building two different stone bases for it, we’re finally close to finishing the darn thing, which should happen by Wednesday this week. let’s touch wood on that!




my two super-helpers

my two super-helpers on the first of the two stone bases made for the clay oven

I have also gotten to meet many of the more permanent residents of San Marcos, thanks to having landed at Monica’s house, a friend I met during a PDC course in Costa Rica and who actually got me in contact with Charlie in the first place. I didn’t know she was actually living in San Marcos and stumbled upon her house as I was looking for Charlie’s headquarters. So, freshly arrived in Guatemala I stumbled upon a friend and I am now helping her house-sit a property and getting to know all the good peeps she surrounds herself with!

So, given my busy oven-building and social lives, and also having wasted a few days trying to sort out my money problems, I haven’t had much time yet to just go out and explore the town, and I haven’t even been swimming in the lake yet after being here for 3 weeks, which I’m sure must be considered a sin here by the locals. There’s also a number of interesting hikes to do in the area, and I can’t wait to have some time to go out and explore them! 🙂

I’ll keep posting about my experiences here and all the wonderful buildings in the area, so until next time, I’m going to try to relax a bit now!



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