Aline is one of my soul sisters who I met while we both were living in Ibiza. Two years ago, she found herself living in the beautiful Atitlan Lake in Guatemala with her love, Mikael. They live off the grid, grow their own veggies, wake up to the sunrise every day and use a bicycle to power their blender. Here are some moments from their picturesque life there.
What brought you to Lake Atitlan?
A deep desire to improve my quality of life, that had nothing to do with money, desires or feeding my ego. A need to re-connect with nature and start asking questions about the intention behind the intention, of doing things. Guatemala had never even crossed my mind until I met Mikael and he invited me here to experience his simple life of living with 100$ a month in perfect harmony.
What kept you there?
The quality of life we have. We have access to local produce and an organic garden that yields more than we are able to consume, so we exchange our kale and other greens for other consumables we don’t make ourselves. The beauty of being the only ones on the whole mountain surrounded by volcanoes, the lake, birds and beautiful valleys. Being able to travel by boat to other small towns around the lake also gives you something different to do. Mostly the peace of mind and feeling of having a healthy and happy lifestyle. At first it was hard to detach from the world. But now I feel more at home than ever.
What is a typical day like for you?
We wake up at sunrise as it is such a beautiful sight, with all the colors. We water the garden, then have some papaya and home-made granola. We walk to the next town over where we share a two hour yoga class at a local hotel, then we walk back. This ritual really makes such a difference in the day! We sit in the garden on a little platform up on the tree and read books or do other things around the house or garden. We sometimes go swimming at the lake, or make furniture, paint, plant.. Whatever we feel…
What are your favourite things to do in the area?
We love to go on hikes up the mountain and explore our local friends lands. Or the many waterfalls around here. To take off with a bag and no particular plan, around the Lake. To visit the town of San Juan, with its mayan murals, local crafts and eat at Artesano. To kayak around Santiago Bay in the mornings and do a temazcal at a friends house. To hike up Cerro de Oro natural reserve. We also love to share this lifestyle with like minded people and mostly to do yoga in our balcony!
Where did you and Mikael meet?
Its quite a funny story because we met in Ibiza about 13 years ago, as he hired me to work for one of his parties.. We did not see each other again for many years until we met again on the island, at a friends barbecue 3 years ago and we both were speaking the same language by then… When I arrived in his wood hut for the first time in Guatemala he had only one picture of his ex-girlfriend on the wall. I looked closely and there I was in the background of the picture!!
Having an off grid home in such perfect weather conditions is a blessing. All year round sun means we have free energy for our small consumption, heating for showers and creates a true spectacle when it comes up over the horizon.
Most people are used to creating landscape gardens with only flowers, but pretty much all of our gardens are edible! Not only are they beautiful ornaments, but you can practically harvest all meals straight from the garden, that feel alive in your mouth. We have passion fruit fences, strawberry borders, veggies everywhere and medicinal herbs that smell incredible such as basil and lemongrass in the entrance. The bike is used as a blender to make our smoothies!
Today’s harvest… Kale, arugula, radishes, pico de paloma peppers, tomatoes, horseradish, passion fruit, wild berries, cilantro, cabbage, and broccoli. Gardening has taught me lessons no book will ever teach me. The abundance of this earth is so great, that if everyone connected to nature and committed to producing their own food, which is beautiful and nourishing at the same time, we could solve a lot of our health and self sustainability problems, but also learn about a reflection of our own selves. Plant a seed, give it water and love and it will give so much back. As with humans and all living beings!
One of the main crops around the lake is coffee so our land had some coffee plants and we love our garden’s fresh brew!
This heart garden was my very first garden.. Plants are a reflection of so many things in our lives and our greatest teachers. To understand the abundance of nature and how intention is almost as important as water and sun, one should start a small garden wherever that may be!
Yoga asanas have become part of our daily routines. Exploring subtlest layers of energy and reaching a great state of peace, yoga is so beneficial on a physical, spiritual and mental level, that we feel so much better after practice! We love to share our sustainable yoga lifestyle and provide a space for individual immersions and bringing our most beloved teachers to the Lake.
Myriad of colors at sunrise.
Most of our furniture, we have co-created ourselves according to the house needs. This outdoor sofa is also used for storage and as a massage bed with natural aromatherapy having a little garden inside. Our cat Artemis has pretty much taken over and created her home in there!
Artemis is a great hunter and keeps most scary insects and other little animals out of the house! Laws of nature…
Nice sofas that are not super tacky are hard to find, so we made this one ourselves too! The round window has a great view to Volcano San Pedro, some 3020 meters above sea level, which are guests very much enjoy!
I was asked by the local teachers to help them teach English to the 207 kids on the local school. This has been a very arduous but so gratifying experience that has changed my relationship with the local community. Here we are taking them on a field trip to the other side of the Lake.
Every year for Semana Santa, families gather around the streets to make alfombras with flowers and cerrin or colorful wood shavings. Once the carpets are complete, the procession washes them down as a great example of impermanence and detachment.
Mikael dressed in a typical garment from San Juan la Laguna. Guatemala is one of the only countries in the world to have maintained its Mayan cultural heritage. The main tribes present around the Lake are the Tzu´tujil and Kak´Chiquel.
During rainy season the Lake become a living waterfall! An abundance of water flows down the mountains from everywhere. The valleys become a lush green that is really beautiful to experience and makes it a great time to visit the Lake, without all the incoming tourism.
Harmony Rainbow from the balcony.
Lake Atitlan is a magical spot, where all elements are combined in perfect harmony. The view from the house is like a living painting and such an inspiration, that you transcend time and feel peace to dwell in your own self and be one with nature.
Another great thing about making your own furniture is that there are no boundaries. Swings for chairs are much more FUN!