We awoke to, literally, the sounds of cannons firing, fireworks, music, horse hoofs, bells ringing. Oye, buenos dias de verdad!

Then breakfast and a hike to the temples to see Cuauhcalli – House of Eagles – an archaeological site. The hike is 100% uphill but not very long. The view that rewards you makes the huffing and puffing worth it. Beyond the view or the site, the energy of this place is strong to say the least. Some people are excited, others are calmer than usual. I sat down and cried tears of liberation. I cannot even explain to you what the tears were for but I felt grounded, present, and free.

Before I made it to the top, I had the most interesting exchange with a woman from Guatemala. She is well traveled, spiritual, wise and her name describes all that she embodies, unconditional love. We had the exchange when I started to blackout during the walk up to the temples. We had not had a chance to talk up until this point. She saw me when I stood up too fast and stayed back with me while the others went ahead. We sat with the trees on a rock bench. A lot was said in our 15 minutes together but perhaps this one line will give provide a glimpse of the depth of our conversation — she looked into my eyes and said, “well you are precious and the most precious stones have many cuts in them so it’s going to hurt… but let yourself be free… you are ready.”

I learned that she watched her friends tortured and killed in Guatemala during the 36 year civil war after the CIA ordered Colonel Carlos Castillo Armas against the democratically elected Arbenz “the fuckin US thought everyone was a communist at that time”. She became a guerilla and eventually decided to move to the U.S. to live a peaceful life without war. It was a gift to learn a part of her history. It made me think, what the hell am I complaining about ever? I have never had to see my friends or family tortured and killed. Survivor guilt, unavoidable even if unnecessary.

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By Jean-Arellia T

After the descent, new friends from El Salvador, Venezuela, Cuba, and Guatemala and myself headed down to el centro for a light lunch before our temazcal but stopped when I saw a store of precious stones. Given my interest in energy/pranic healing, I asked if we could stop in. Quickly I found a black tourmaline stone to turn into a pendant and also looked to see if I could pick out a crystal quartz to help with my healing practice. I held my hands over the stones and felt the different energies. No bullshit, I could actually feel energy. I cannot discern what the heck I am feeling but I could feel the pressure. The owner approached me. He asked me to hold out my left hand, palm facing up and he held a golden, cone-shaped stone pendulo over it and we watched it take flight in circles. He told me in Spanish that I was a healer and that I was creative. As I listened hard to get the gist of what he was saying, I looked into his eyes and suddenly was awash with recognition. I teared up and we embraced. I thanked him… for what, I am not sure, but I know I needed to thank him. (Reminded me of other experiences in India). I was glad to meet him. I walked around and looked at several crystal quartz pieces but I truly did not know what I was looking for so I decided only on the tourmaline. After I made my purchase, I stood outside and waited and others from our group also stopped in, purchased stones, and continued on their way to grab lunch. C and I waited for E to have her stone activated. We were the last to leave and as we thanked el senor, he waved me over to him and handed me a crystal quartz…

We went to have lunch in el centro with the others. Think of a farmers market but with lots of food vendors cooking up yummy street food (I ended up having two fresh juices; one made of chia, pina y limon, and another of pure coconut and water, but I did watch with envy as people gobbled up their rich blue corn quesadillas stuffed with yummy frijoes y queso y mas).

To end the day, we prepared ourselves for the temazcal…