…dreaming a better dream

Lake Atitlan – Back to San Marcos

February 2013

From San Juan we decide to go back to San Marcos – and the best thing is that we take a tuk-tuk along the road that spans from San Pedro, through San Juan and San Pablo, ending in San Marcos. We had seen the dirt road while in San Pedro but didn’t know how or when we would get on it. Well, this is a great time for it. In San Marcos we visit with an old friend who broke his foot since we last saw him. We stay a few days and enjoy yet another great bedroom, one built in adobe.

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Lake Atitlan – San Juan

February 2013

This little town on the western end of the lake is known for it’s residents’ obsession for cleanliness. It’s true; the town center is broom-swept, tidy and colorful. Many sources recommend that we go visit, so we decide to get on a lancha and check it out. The highlight is lunch at a Swiss garden restaurant where we dine al fresco on a spectacular cheese plate. Whereas the town is pretty and quaint, it’s not our cup of tea; it’s essentially a tourist trap. So we take the drastic decision of staying only for the day.

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Lake Atitlan – Up up up in Santa Cruz

February 2013

Santa Cruz sits way up on the mountain’s shoulder. The town has a road that links it back to Panajachel, but beside this healthy artery, the town’s urban fabric is stitched from a web of pedestrian callejones and stepped walkways. We set out on this uphill trek from our lakeside posada early, knowing we’ll be out and about all day.

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Lake Atitlan – Santa Cruz

February 2013

We leave Casa del Mundo and hike over to Santa Cruz. It’s a great walk, not only the mountain trek, but also the long haul along the surreal water’s edge. We follow rickety plank walkways that re-claim from private property the once public access along the lake’s shore, now lost following the dramatic rise in water level. This spontaneous and resourceful solution makes for a truly unforgettable circulation path that gives “boardwalk” a whole new meaning. So far, Linda’s birthday celebration on the lake continues to delight us in memorable ways.

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Lake Atitlan – Jaibalito

February 2013

Jaibalito is the nearest town to Casa del Mundo; we take a hike along the mountain to visit it and return by way of the shoreline. This is an authentic town with little tourist influence; no gift shops, no hustling. People aren’t mean or anything, but we don’t get the feeling that they really care if you’re here or not. Now, regarding politics, they do seem to care quite a bit about letting you know what party is best.

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Lake Atitlan – Casa del Mundo

February 2013

We hear this is a must-see hotel; it clings to the side of the mountain with a Mediterranean flair. Because it stands alone on a stretch of coastline between Jaibalito and Santa Cruz, the room includes dinner which is served at one large, lively table for all the guests. It’s a well-run operation and a good spot to vacation, but it isn’t quite our cup of tea. A great place nevertheless. Oh, and we can now categorically confirm that real people are actually on the internet and competing with you for a reservation, not just bots.

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Lake Atitlan – More design and nature in San Marcos

February 2013

We’re having a good time exploring the town, which is quite rural in feel. There aren’t any cars, although there is a road that comes to the town center where it ends. We’d like to share more of Aaculaax, a small, exquisite hotel where we’re staying. It has about 10 rooms, ranging in price from elegant all the way to barefoot. We tried all types over two visits, starting at the top and dropping all the way to the basement. Somehow we’re taken by some of the decorative elements on the property, but also by the general sensibility. We usually shoot things just to keep an image of something we like, but here we’ll post some of those record-keeping images out of respect for these hand-crafted details. But this project doesn’t begin there; letting the native rock forms into the interior spaces is a gesture of integration, and literally the foundation in many areas of these buildings. And the gardens are lush and imaginative, as is nature itself.

We go for a hike too. But we don’t go jump in a lake.

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Lake Atitlan – San Marcos

February 2013

We come to San Marcos not knowing what to expect, though we’ve heard about the many spa-like places here that integrate meditation, yoga and other transcendental endeavors and pastimes. Many take it very seriously here, in large part because the lake is believed to be one of the few places on earth where the energy field is such that everything is just so for that ever elusive sustainable connection with the ether. The venerable volcanoes, the expressive clouds, and the majesty of the lake itself sure look the part.

We come to really enjoy it here; without a doubt we luxuriate celebrating Linda’s birthday in an exquisitely crafted hotel, which of all things, it features imaginative stained glass, Linda’s specialty. All the glass is salvage, but more fascinating is that in lieu of lead cames holding the pieces together, these are fabricated using a kind of paper mache, reinforced and durable. Another feature is the integration of the natural stones and rock formations into the interior spaces, which are themselves real explorations of hand-crafted vernacular architecture. We begin our stay in the Honeymoon Suite way up at the top of the property (the only room available when we dropped in), and slowly trickle down into any available room, all the way down to the basement, where we shared our hostel-style room with a scorpion.

Oh yeah, the town is nice too.

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Lake Atitlan – More walking around in San Pedro

February 2013

We continue our explorations around town. We stroll around and enjoy simply being here.

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Lake Atitlan – San Pedro

February 2013

San Pedro is at the opposite end of Lake Atitlan than Panajachel is. As such, we travel westward along the northern coast on a lancha bus, making stops along the way at various towns, some of which we’ll come back to visit later. We get a good first taste of the lake and of its general coastline character. San Pedro turns out to be an earnest town with areas where locals live and work outside of the tourist trade. And there are other areas that are wholly laid-back, where many of its foreign transplants resemble Jesus in Bethlehem, bearded, braided, clothed in drapes, sandals, glassy eyes, rosy cheeks, staring into the distance.

The charismatic town droops from the mountain shoulder, gently unfolding into two separate coastlines divided by a hilly promontory. We find a surreal landscape along the water’s edge. It is here where we first feel, up close, the terrifying, sudden rise in the lake’s water level – 12 feet during the 2012 rainy season. No one knows why it isn’t draining as it always has following heavy rains.

We spend a few days and nights here, navigating the fine line between fine dining and just fine.

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Lake Atitlan – Panajachel

February 2013

Guatemala is a beautiful countryside, and Lago de Atitlan is one of its most cherished natural gems. Re-known the world over, this picturesque lake, situated in the country’s south-central mountainous region, presided over by three awesome volcanoes, truly has an inspiring, zen-like quality that over the centuries has fomented all sorts of creative endeavors, from Maya mythology to mainstream literature.

There are two predominant Maya descendants on the lake, the Kaqchikel and the Tz’utujil, and as human nature has it, the two have been antagonists, a condition that the Spanish invaders took advantage of and much later spawned a divide-and-conquer policy by the central government in its attempt to subvert the natives’ rights through aggressive intimidation, especially during the late 20th century. Fortunately, reconciliation is well underway now. A healthy maritime culture prevails on the lake by necessity, being that there are few roads that link towns along the lake, and none that circumnavigates the entire lake. Why build a road if the lake can take you there? We find that to be the case with Rio Dulce too, where the river is the main artery for that region.

Panajachel is the second largest town on the lake, but it’s definitely the touristic nerve center. Neo-Maya souvenirs are for sale here in abundance. Even if you don’t want to buy anything at all, you still end up caught in the exchange at some point, even if it’s only to engage a vendor who will not take no for an answer. May as well take the opportunity to connect with the hustlers, usually a woman in full traditional attire named Maria, or a duo or trio of young children adept at formulating compassionate expressions, by talking about other things than price. Then, when we inevitably see one another again, we smile and wave and perhaps even joke a bit more.

All in all, the effect of tourism and transplanted foreigners is abundant everywhere on the lake, but still the native cultures endure more vibrantly than in other parts of Guatemala, and certainly than in most other western nations. We begin to get a glimpse of that here in Panajachel, the eastern and primary gateway into the lake, where we arrive after the six-hour bus ride from the Rio to the capital, followed by an additional three hours through tight mountain roads. But Lago de Atitlan will unfold for us over the next few weeks as we visit a handful of towns, sleep in extreme luxury as well as with bed bugs, and oh, yeah… we’re here to celebrate Linda’s birthday! So here begins our visit to this sublime earthly phenomenon. Once referred to as “the most beautiful lake in the world” – a title that some may question today, yet it’s still quite evident why this place could don it.

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Back at Mango

January 2013

We’re back from recording and happy to be home. We ate well in New York and continue to eat well on Bailando. We come home to a few surprises and have to start on repairs right away. But with a little help from Luis and a few other friends everything turns out fine in the end.

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Real Time Update (or almost) – Bay of Fundy

Bailando (aground) in the Bay of Fundy, 6 am.

 

September 2013

Well, just in case anyone’s been wondering, we thought we’d post a quick update with our whereabouts…

Back in early June, we left Guatemala to come to Maine for Linda’s parents’ 50th anniversary; they planned a family get-together in Bar Harbor. Needless to say, we made it, and in only five weeks, thanks to making some nice and long crossings, sailing along the Gulfstream, at times cruising at nearly 12 knots! And yes, we’re still here… currently in Camden, Maine.

We’ve also had the pleasure to visit the Bay of Fundy, Canada, home of the largest tides in the world. We were drawn to this natural phenomenon, and yes, we saw them alright! The photo illustrates how we woke up one morning in St. John, New Brunswick.

Hopefully we’ll get around to sorting through photos soon so we can offer a bit more on this wild and crazy Journey to Maine, and beyond! But for now, we’re working our way back south on what we’re calling our USA East Coast tour.

Happy 2013 – Our album is out!

After months of hard work, we’re spinning our CD sitting here on Bailando. Surreal to say the least. It’s a wonderful feeling to have completed such a monumental project in every respect, almost on schedule, definitely not on budget.

We call our songwriting duo it goes without saying. The album is called We Herd Rumors – with a whopping 14 songs it’s pretty diverse, yet definitely an album. We’ve already heard some beautiful stories about how the music is slowly finding it own life in others’ daily existence.

You can go to our website at www.itgoeswithoutsayingmusic.com and stream any and all songs for free. You can also download the music at iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere on the net. If you’d like to have the actual CD with lyrics, album notes and photos, order the CD with CD Baby.

So, start your New Year with New Tunes, and we hope you enjoy both.

Linda and Ricardo

Final days in the Rio

August 2012

We don’t actually have a lot of time here in the Rio before we need to take the 6-hour bus ride to the city, stay a night at Las Torres, and finally hop on the plane to Miami, our first stop on our way to record the album in upstate NY. But we use the time well, saying goodbye to friends, doing a couple live gigs, and getting Bailando ready for the sedentary life-style that we have planned for her for 3 months.

Our trip starts out well. Thematically, we decide to make it all about music, so why not have the local trio sing us a song while we dine in Guatemala City?

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Up the Rio to Mango

August 2012

We make it in one piece, nap, eat and check in to Guatemala. Then, the supreme treat of going up the Rio Dulce – a spectacular ride.

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Going back to Guatemala

July 2012

We set up the schedule such that we can leave for Guatemala as soon as weather permits following Stefania’s visit. It turns out the weather is great the day she leaves, so we leave too. We stop in Utila to check out of Honduras, fuel up and then launch on an over-nighter to Livingston, Guatemala. We’re on schedule; it’s July 30th and the flight is on August 9th. Everything is great on the crossing, including the lightning storm that threatens all night, and finally hits us just before dawn off Cabo Tres Puntas. The storm we rode arriving at dawn last year was great too – it was essentially the same day of the year, August 1st.

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Exploring above and below water with Stefania

July 2012

We get in the dinghy and head north, then east along Roatan’s northern coast. This is where we went for the shipwreck dive, but today we go much farther. We discover different bights, lagoons, spectacular landscape features, and even a dolphin tourist attraction that came out of nowhere. Our outing ends with a simple snorkeling dip. Then, she leaves, back to Caracas, hell on earth (except for the cocadas, arepas, hallacas, and all the other ahhhhs…)

Stefania, it’s very nice to have you here, enjoying life on Bailando; we’re so glad you could visit with us.

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We Take Stefania on the Walk to West Bay

July 2012

We’re excited to take Stefania on the coastal walk to West Bay – we’ve done it once before and are happy to take it again, especially because the snorkeling at the far end is spectacular. It’d be good for her to see the resorts, the beach, the vibe and also enjoy a nice dip into a whole other world.

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From French Cay to West End with Stefania

July 2012

We don’t have a lot of time with Stefania so we plan on going for a day sail to Cayos Cochinos, stay a night or two, and then return to West End where we can have a taxi take her to the airport. We make a pitstop at Brooksy Point before heading to sea. The gods just don’t believe in this plan and proceed to foul up the main sail roller furler… so we decide to head directly to West End and make the best of it.

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