Dearest Family and Friends,
Did you feel like you had an adventure on Wednesday? Well, I felt as though I took all of you along with us on our trip to get to Guatemala. I pictured you as everything unfolded, sharing the experience with you. You say you didn’t feel it? Well, in that case, I will share our day with you in writing.
We left our home before 7 a.m. to drive to the Miami airport in a rental car that we would leave there. Everything went well using the Mapquest directions until we started to look for exit 18 on the interstate. We got to 19 but then the next exit was 15? Did we miss it? We got caught in Miami traffic trying to get turned back the other way which took precious minutes and again, no exit 18. I squinted a little harder at the print out and realized that it wasn’t exit 18, it was exit 1B. So now we were heading the wrong way and had to turn around again and make up the distance. About 20 wasted minutes later we were on course. Exit 1 B is at the end of the interstate and the exit for the airport there was backed up. Another few precious minutes as we were already cutting in to our 2 hour check in time and had not yet arrived. We drove on according to directions but it was confusing and we missed our exit. We knew by the planes in the sky that we were close and stopped at a gas station to fill the tank and get directions.
Finally we made it to the rental place at the airport. We are so used to a GPS but didn’t take ours as we didn’t want to haul it to Guatemala and we don’t have one on the phone. The directions were a little strange but, hey we made it and still had an hour and a half to catch the flight.
Even though the rental attendant said that we didn’t have far to walk, we got a luggage cart and were very glad we did. We may not have had far to walk to the airport entrance but once inside it became a marathon course, still carrying some of the luggage. We took as much weight and cases as allowed on the flight so everything was heavy!
We finally got to the check in area and though Rob had already checked in by internet, we had to check a bag each. After many false starts, we finally found where to do that. Then we had to back track the route we had just taken and then some to find the gate.
At security, they confiscated my unopened water bottles and stopped us to search one bag, not liking the look of my jars of yeast. But finally, we were on the way to the gate. We made a sigh of relief with about 30 minutes to spare. The gate was very crowded so we stayed across the way. About 20 minutes before the flight, Rob went to check and see why they had not started boarding. Between checking the bags and the time we got to the gate, the airline had changed gates! We had to run to not only a different terminal but one that required a tram to take us. Now we are carrying 5 heavy items, huffing and puffing through the airport trying to find out new gate.
Obviously, we made it and in fact, the flight left about an hour late arriving in Guatemala 45 minutes behind schedule. The flight took off late because we were waiting for the pilot’s “soiled” seat bottom cushion to be replaced. One wonders what happened on the previous flight for the cushion to became unacceptably soiled. All together though, it was a good flight once we were in the air. I sat next to a Guatemalan man who had been in Providence, RI doing agricultural work. At least that is what we understood with his little English and our little Spanish. He was very nice, though conversation was difficult. When they came around with the customs forms to fill out he signaled that he wanted me to fill out his form for him. I got the distinct impression that he could not read, even in Spanish. He said his occupation was agriculture. He was born in 1948. I wish I knew his story. I can’t imagine him being flown to Providence in November to do agricultural work. What plants would they have there that they have in Guatemala. The climates and typography could not be further apart!
Well, whatever his story, he was very nice. I had packed sandwiches, some oranges and carrots and celery so he enjoyed a nice lunch with us as I had plenty to share. It was a good thing as they didn’t even serve peanuts on the plane.
What really was unique about this flight was the view out the window as we flew of the mountains. We were flying over a thick cloud cover. It looked like flying over the glaciers. If one didn’t realize they were over clouds you would think you were flying over the arctic. Then we started to see mountain tops appear above the clouds looking like small islands in a sea of clouds. Occasionally there would be a break in the clouds that looked like the edge of a cliff going into a ravine. It was visually remarkable and an experience I have never had before.
We got through customs and immigration very easily and were met by our drivers in a mini bus. It has 3 rows of seating behind the driver. We paid extra for the larger vehicle because of all of our luggage and the shopping we wanted to do. We did get that taken care of, stocking up on lots of the meat, cheeses and beverages at a warehouse type store. Unfortunately, with all the delays, we didn’t leave Guatemala City until about 5:30 with a 5 hour drive ahead of us.
It is a lucky thing that over the years cruising, Rob and I have been driven on less than easy road conditions or we might have had a heart attack. The driver was good at navigating all the traffic. Large trucks and buses are everywhere and are at least half of the vehicles on the road once you leave town. They had mud slides a few weeks ago and there was a lot of road construction around that. We even had to avoid two cows that were in the road that surprised us as we came around a curve. We finally made it and got in to the apartment they have at the boat yard and finally got to sleep.
This morning, I started to process the meats in to smaller portions and freeze them. Rob went to the boat to start getting things ready and check out the condition. Everything looks like it made it just fine over the summer. He got the solar panels hooked up and the refrigerator running and that all looks good.
What doesn’t look good is that they discovered some damage to the bottom of our hull where some of the fiberglass is separating and there has been water intrusion. That is not good. Instead of putting the boat in the water on the 6th as planned, this will require some time and of course money, to fix. We have not yet made a decision about how to proceed. We will do the repair for sure, but do we stay and supervise, or take this time to let them do the repair and do our language class? We have to do some thinking about that. Part of the problem is that we don’t want to live on the boat until it is in the water, which could be a few weeks. The cost of this apartment is low but still adds up over time. It is a three bedroom with 2 bath unit. The marina manager “accidently” booked two couples in the apartment for the same time. She asked us if we would be willing to share if they were.
That was no problem and today the other couple arrived. I am not sure what will happen from here as it looks like they may need the place for some time yet as well. I would guess that might encourage us to head to Antigua for our Spanish classes.
I know this is long but I have been so focused on sharing this adventure with you, I didn’t want to leave anything out. I think it helps to think of all of you and this log when I am experiencing things. I have vowed to come in with an attitude of openness to change of plans, acceptance of things that didn’t go as expected and the idea that if my attitude is making me miserable, change the attitude. So far, I find that I am smiling even when my arms are aching from carrying heavy bags while running through airline terminals. I feel glad that the plan of going to the language school before coming here was changed because now we can get work started on the hull repair sooner.
Life is good. It is fun to be back in Guatemala and we already had two couples over for a dinner I made tonight. Life can’t get much better.
Hope you find reasons to be happy with your day! Next time I’ll tell you about the snake and the spiders in the apartment!
Sue and Rob
RAM marina, Guatemala