I have just left a communal living space in Godínez, next to lake Atitlan in Guatemala. I was supposed to spend a few weeks there but ended staying for one. I left because it felt like the right time but actually I loved my time there and it was an absolutely transformational experience.
When I arrived it was quiet, the owner was away and there was just one of the core group of hippies and one visitor. The commune is a castle high up the side of the mountain, there are no doors or windows, just openings which may in the future be filled with glass and wood.
The land is quite large and a walk across the property takes you to a platform overlooking the lake which is spectacular at any time of day.
It is here that I get my first sight of naked yoga and mediation. Me and the other visitor try to blaze a trail to the lake but after one hour we give up as its too far. We turn back and when I return and climb the stairs to the second floor I see one of the members lying on his side in the sun, completely naked.
I walk past like its nothing. And hear him giggle behind me. I’m smirking. I figure that he was embarrassed but actually he, like many people here just start giggling and laughing seemingly randomly so in hindsight it was probably not embarrassment at all. Over the next few days I see him naked many more times and even once whilst doing a strange crab walk yoga routine across the platform.
Nudity quickly becomes a normal thing. Especially seeing as the shower doesn’t really have a proper door, just a sheet that blows around in the wind. So I get used to the fact people are gonna see me naked too and it doesn’t bother me.
People start to show up after a few days and the place starts to buzz. They have all just been at the cosmic convergence festival and are arriving here for the full moon after party.
Tensions frazzle as people first arrive. One guys tent has been messed with and he snaps and almost fights another hippy, but they resolve it quickly and are chatting shortly after.
The next day two of the Germans get angry at the state of he kitchen and one of them directs his anger at me.
In a meeting (or circle) I explain that I think it’s disrespectful to come to someone’s house and start moving everything around and cleaning things, as it shows that you don’t think they way they are living is up to your standards. People seem to agree with me and we move on.
We start to prepare for the party. At least the ones who want to do, and the ones who don’t want to don’t. Most people do something. But here everyone is free to add what they want, whether that is just their presence, or whether that is a lot of work. Of course some people doing a lot of work get frustrated when they see people doing nothing. But it all works out.
During the whole preparation phase the owner is absolutely calm. It is almost as if you couldn’t explain to him what the word stress meant. He is the most at-peace person I have ever met.
The people here generally are inspirational. They meditate, do yoga naked, they don’t worry about tomorrow, they want to live at peace with everything around them and one of the best things about my time there was that you can say and be exactly what you want to. You can say anything no matter how deep or stupid and no one will ever laugh. This means that people’s true feelings on anything will always come to the fore, never with any fear of how people may judge them. So arguments are resolved quickly, and people connect far more quickly as no one holds back. Hugs last for longer than arguments here, and I’m not saying that figuratively. They literally hug for minutes at a time.
At any point someone may burst in to song or dance, and there were some really good singers there so it was a pleasant thing to listen to.
If you were to look at that place from an observers perspective you would see a bunch of people in funny clothes, with long hair, dirty feet and raggy clothes. But living there you see a community that has created a beautiful living space where people can be exactly who they want to be, and it is working.