gina la gringa

“The Earth Does Not Belong To Us. We Belong To The Earth.”- Chief Seattle

In my latest travel I was privileged to celebrate both my Birthday & New Year in the fascinating village of San Pedro La Laguna, Guatemala on the mystical Lake Atitlan. I was eager to experience this place, my partner had raved about, for myself- and so, when the opportunity arose I was ready to be Captivated. And, Captivated I was!


This village, population of about 13,000, is situated amidst luscious mountain and tranquil lake. Both its landscape and local culture seem to pulse with vibrancy and life! Around 90% of inhabitants, living in this oh so small town, are Indigenous and of Mayan Decent. Most locals, and Western migrants, shared a gracious attitude towards life and passion for their work. The cultural undertones dominate the “local vibe” and, alongside growing tourism, it has become an intricate dance of diverse characters and dimensions. Within this village there is a collective atmosphere of diligent workers, delightful attitudes, and a resounding joyful human spirit…


Whatever “It” is… this place has it. And, it is clear to see that love is flourishing in San Pedro. It can be tasted on the street corners as women kneed tortillas or seen in the men carrying firewood on their backs up steep hills. It can be observed in the local gardener who delicately tends his greens and Mayan women who use their heads & aprons to carry produce home. Dedication is strewn on the persistent faces of Students learning Spanish and rolling off the tongues of merchants learning to bargain in English. Joy is squeezed daily on the street in the form of fresh juice & in the eyes of children who frolic the streets barefooted. Migrants initiating hockey games in the street on Sundays or musicians who gather to jam, do it with love. The dock welcomes boatloads of travelers to explore this small town while fresh new faces, with wild dreams, restore newly purchased land with zestful intention. “It” is in every “Hola” that visitors of San Pedro get an opportunity to receive, grow closer and fall deeply in love with the natural essence of this mystical place and its people.



No matter how one ends up in San Pedro, it is likely to become a place to reconnect with nature. The way the lake, hilltops, sky and green exquisitely exist, together, is simply a sight to behold. Lake Atitlan is picturesque. There ain’t no denying that:

But, it is much more than beautiful landscape. There are crucial matters within the village that need attention. And, they are not going unnoticed… There is a major dilemma with regards to waste management in the town. And, what i mean by ‘dilemma’ is that there is no waste management. You can literally walk the entire town and not see one public rubbish bin. The lake acts as a place where many local families bath and wash their children & clothes. And, when put in that context it is much more crucial to keep the surrounding area free of rubbish to prevent it from ending up in the water…


After a swim in the lake, and with consideration of the growing rate of tourism, there’s an evident need for community awareness to be raised in regards to the importance of keeping this place clean… now! And, when there is a call for necessary action, anywhere in the world, all we can do is hope that one day it is seen and heard…


In this case it just so happens to have been heard by Three Guys (by the names of Oak McIlwain, Michael Jackson & Brian Sherwin) with an awesome campaign plan to “Keep San Pedro Beautiful” “We would like to set up a system where locals can be paid an above average wage to help keep their town clean. We will also utilise volunteer tourists and local children.”


Intentions are being placed: “We need funds to set up a good waste management system to keep the town clean and tidy.”


And progress is being set in motion: “Keeping the town clean will not only be a beautiful experience for the locals and tourists but also for the plants and wildlife that live here.”

Their inspiring enthusiasm has caught on as they have now raised $500 via the web and The SP community seems in full support of the “Keep San Pedro Beautiful” effort. And therefore, as a fellow traveler & visitor to this amazing Lake, I felt very compelled to do my part to spread the word. Because I believe, as Peyton March expressed, “There is a wonderful mythical law of nature that the three things we crave most in life — happiness, freedom, and peace of mind — are always attained by giving them to someone else.”

So, how will it get done? Well, first… They need funds to obtain, allocate & install rubbish bins, like these, which are already being implemented as successful waste management tools in neighboring villages such as Panajachel:

Once my partner and I began looking at, and taking pictures of, how it is working in other towns… it became thrilling to think of the impact something like offering a place for the community to dispose of their trash could truly be. Not to mention giving both locals and tourists the chance to show they care about the environment.


It is an absolute honor to know the three amigos responsible for spearheading the “Keep San Pedro Beautiful” effort. They are actively raising awareness amongst enthusiastic travelers & inspiring local children to join in their efforts. These men are on a mission and, with support, they will succeed. They have also become co-managers of The Fifth Dimension ( a newly launched Tapas Lounge in which a portion of all proceeds will go towards the “Keep San Pedro Beautiful” Campaign.


I have no doubt in my heart that these amazing men will succeed as they devote attention to something that has been recognized as a community issue, but simply hadn’t gained momentum to instigate change, until three inspired people were united to take action…

And, so…. after being inspired the only logical thing to do was to hop on board, use my blog as a vessel to promote, encourage support, share in giving back to the world & give others the chance to do so too!
Let us, help them, “Keep San Pedro Beautiful”

Travelers from far and wide visit San Pedro and I imagine many of them depart feeling enriched in someway by the land and by its people. I also imagine that whilst enjoying themselves nearly all of them, from developed countries, noticed the lack of appropriate trash cans…


And, this is where the level of our consciousness is called to question…

Can we continue receiving so much without giving back unto the soil that nourishes us?

Do we possess enough awareness to begin replenishing Mother Earth, who supplies us in so many ways, and give thanks by simply giving back our own energy… to help sustain her ?

There is not a one of us that is not a traveler, at some stage of our life, in some way. We are all dancing our way to various destinations, picking up tidbits of knowledge here, there and everywhere- finding ourselves somewhere anew… We can only hope that our travels bring us to a place of greater understanding, appreciation and love for the places we’ve been and those we have yet to go… And that when given the opportunity to do so, we stand for causes close to our hearts, share our experiences with others and promote a healthier self and world… P1080820

This post is Dedicated to Lake Atitlan, the Local Community of SP & my incredible partner, Oak w/ gratitude and in an effort to do my part to help “Keep San Pedro Beautiful”. If you are inspired, please visit:

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