San Pedro is one of these places from where it’s hard to leave. While we have no desire to bum here for months like some gringos do, we grew to like our little routine over the past few days. Breakfast (usually a lengthy affair considering anytime you order food, it takes about an hour to have it ready), a long walk either in one of the surroundings villages or in San Pedro, a quick drink and snack somewhere, then back to the hotel for sunset to upload the pictures. In the evening, we check our emails, go eat somewhere, walk some more, watch TV and read. We pass out around midnight and don’t wake up until the dogs bark and gallos go crazy in the morning.
Hard to find a more relaxing place.
Today, we went to explore more of San Pedro, including the actual village uphill. I was amazed by the number of churches and religious messages written on the walls. “Busca a Dio” (look for God), “Jesús, la única solucion” (Jesus, the only solution), “Solo Jesus puede cambiar su vida” (Only Jesus can change your life) etc. The atheist in me just doesn’t get it.
I know that Latin America is big on religion and that it is part of the culture, probably like it was in Europe a few decades ago. Part of me sees no problem in it: after all, the country is coming out of a long civil war (this year is the fifteen-year peace anniversary). Maybe religion helped people overcoming the scars of the war and unite the country. I’m not a believer but I don’t actually mind religion(s). To each his own—some believe, some don’t, and I have no desire to convince people God doesn’t exist as long as no one tries to convince he does.
Yet, part of me hopes that religion won’t be a quick fix for all the local issues. I was reading the newspaper today and it turns out to be an interesting exercise, both linguistic and sociological. The paper here is full of stories of murders, traffic accidents and drug busts. On one page, readers commented on what they hoped for the country in 2012 (aside from the end of the world, cf the Maya calendar). Pretty much all mentioned something along the lines of “people should follow the Christ”, “crime happens because people don’t respect God’s will” etc.
I’m pretty sure they are a lot of people in death row who swear by the Bible or whatever other religious book. And that believing in God isn’t a license to do good.
I don’t know why the murder rate is so high in Guatemala. But I’m sure as hell—pun intended—that it’s not because people don’t go to church enough. I tend to believe in the Marxist explanation, but again, maybe it’s another religion as well…
After following Jesus’ path for a short time (climbing to heaven was tiring), we went back to the lakeshore where we took the coffee path. Close to the Santiago dock, hundreds of coffee beans were been laid to dry on plastic sheet. On the other side of the lake, close to the Panajachel dock, we saw the actual beans, still on the trees. Of course, I took pictures, like the gringa I am.