Perhaps the best part of a vacation is who you choose to spend it with. And I just got to spend a week away with one of my favorite people at one of my favorite places. In 2007 I experienced Lago Atitlan for the first time, and I said a little prayer that one day I’d get to take my future husband there. Fast forward 5 years later; and now I’m living about just 2 hours from that lake with a man from the country I fell in love with 5 years previously.
Since being married we’ve taken a few day trips, then I went to a writing conference and he to a water filter conference, but we have not taken any kind of real vacation. Since September and October tend to be our slower season for hosting groups from the states, we seized the opportunity.
We packed up our backpacks, strapped on our helmets and I left any sense of fashion at home because G convinced me to wear his motorcycle jacket. I objected for all of 3 seconds until he muttered something like…safety, padding, and protection. My mom would be pleased. I have come to enjoy riding the motorcycle and we have developed a series of hand signals to communicate while riding, things like, “You, ok?”, “Look at that,” “I love you” and the all important, “Bathroom break.”
And riding a motorcycle has taught me the art of packing less clothes and only bringing two pairs of shoes. My dad tried to train us girls on every family vacation. He always told us, “You can only bring what you can carry.” Luckily, I was a pretty strong 10 year-old girl so I learned to carry A LOT. However, Gerber’s rule: we each get one small backpack. Thankfully, my man is pretty low maintenance so I got to use 3/4 of the space in both backpacks. Yes, he gets major good husband points for being willing to carry my crap.
Thanks to a very generous friend, with an incredible lakeside property this was our home for the week. It’s the perfect combination of cozy, rustic and romantic. Most walls are made of windows which means you can see the lake and volcano from literally every point in the house. You can wash dishes, read in a hammock, wake up in the morning, and take a shower all without compromising the view. The bottom right photo is the view from the bed pictured to the left. I have never been so happy to wake up.
We made and ate most meals right here on the patio. I mean if you saw the view and the garden you would as well. Breakfast was fresh yogurt and granola with papaya, piña and sandia, oh, and coffee. I have converted from my former tea-ways to be come a full-fledged coffee drinker. Dinners were pasta with spinach and artichokes or tomatoes and cheese. Simple, delicious and goes good with a glass of wine. A few nights dinner consisted of homemade chocolate chips cookies while we watched a movie. Hey, it was vacation, now : )
I recently read something that said, every couple should have an outside game and an inside game. We have lots of outside “games” that we do together, but nothing really for the inside game. Gerber, was shocked to learn that I didn’t know how to play Checkers, or Damas, as it’s called in Spanish. Yes, truth be told somehow in my southern California upbringing I’m not sure how I missed this. So with the lake as our backdrop, and candles on the table I had my first lesson. I was Paperclips and he was Rolled-up-pieces-of-napkin. It was perfect, except I lost every game. But the good news is I think we found our inside game. Just need to buy a real Checkers board, now.
I think one of the challenges of vacation-ing with someone else is when you have different vacation-ing styles. Anyone who has vacationed with a person who has a different vacation style knows just what I mean? Thankfully, we both like the same kinds of places- outdoorsey, simple, close to nature, but within walking distance of cities and towns. However, I have a pretty high tolerance (read: enjoy) for sitting and reading and only getting up to change locations based on the direction of sun. G on the other hand needs to physically DO something. He’s active, adventurous and gets restless if I suggest we sit and read for longer than 20 minutes. So we learned to do some things on our own.
He explored the town, kayaked for a few hours and rode his motorcycle. I did some of those things, but I spent a fair amount of time rotating between the dock and a hammock upstairs where I finished a book on my Kindle and read a Vegetarian Cookbook that was in the kitchen from cover to cover. Did I mention I think this house has the best library in all of San Marcos? There were 3 different bookshelves full of titles from the NY Times Best Seller list, some old classics, and some obscure titles. I copied down quite a few to add to my, “Books to Read” List.
One morning we took a 2 hours hike up along the cliffs over looking the lake, wound around through some corn fields, crossed a few streams and ended up with lunch at this gorgeous hotel. I often am reminded in Guatemala what a luxury it is to “take a hike” for pleasure. We chose to explore and walk and climb this trail, but the truth is many local men and women do it daily for their livelihood, not for pleasure. They harvest their corn and look for firewood on the same trail we took for fun. I am reminded that things like exercising and hiking are really a privilege, not a necessity or a right. It’s easy to confuse those things.
These are a few of my favorites because the capture the peacefulness, fun and love I think we felt that week. Not just for each other, but for the opportunity to get away, and to appreciate the beauty of people and a part of the country that we have both been to numerous times separately, but never together.
Perhaps the best sign of a good vacation, is when you are eager and ready to get back home. I will always love weekend trips and vacation get-aways, but there is something so good about coming home to ordinary days, simple routines and meaningful work.
Here’s to Lago Atitlan, my husband and many years ahead of coming home from vacations.
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P.S. If you are seriously interested in coming to Guatemala or renting this lakeside house email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I can send you the vrbo web-address. It would be the perfect house for family vacation, a group of friends or just a couple. The house sleeps 6-8 and there is a tree house and little cabana that are also for rent. It’s about a 10 min walk to San Marcos La Laguna and a 2 hour drive from Antigua.
Do you know your vacation-style? Is it compatible with your family or spouse?