I really want to share this email that my dad wrote about their trip to Guatemala-it highlights things that I don't usually think about :)
Me llamo Bruce. Hola !! Karen and I went to visit Steffi in Guatemala. We were there last Tuesday thru Saturday. Here is a quick run down of the events.
We arrived Tuesday morning at 11:30 Guat time. Steffi met us there with a cab driver. She picked us with a cab rather than a bus because there were protest which shut down main highways. She took a cab from XELA to Guatemala City leaving at 2:30 AM Tuesday in order to arrive before the highway shut down. The thought was the roads would be open around 1 o'clock in the afternoon. This did not happen as we were stopped twice on what should be a 3 hour drive. From what we could gather the protesters were farmers or rural residents blocking the road with vehicles and burning tires. The first stop was 2 1/2 hours before the police and military drove in and broke up the protest. The next stop was approx 1/2 hour in a different city. Anyways..it took us 8 hours to get to Xela. On the way we had a very nice dinner with our cab driver. On our first 2 nights Karen and I stayed at a nice bed and breakfast which was $50 per night and included a very very nice breakfast for Karen, Steffi and I. The first 2 nights Steffi stayed at "Casa Loco" aka her home. Our first full day (Wednesday) was spent visiting Steffi's new house (with a bunch of new friends), her 1st house in Xela in which she stayed with a family, and the after school day care where Steffi volunteers. That night we had dinner in Xela with her friend Griese (pronounced grease).
Thursday we took a cab to the crazy main bus station in Xela which is exactly as you have seen on the movies with a lot of chicken (old school bus) bus's spewing nasty exhaust and people selling anything you may like to eat, but no gringo from Ohio would buy. We took a couple different bus's and a boat ride to "the lake" named Atitla I think. There are a bunch of villages around this beautiful lake and we spent the day and evening at one of them. The bed and breakfast here was also awesome. The 3 of us stayed at a bungalow which was quite pricey for Guatemala at $75 per night, but was very cool. The grounds were very well kept and we had a nice dinner at the Inn's resturant. That day we had explored the village which was a lot of fun. Steffi and Karen have some nice pictures from not only the lake, but throughout the entire visit. Go to Steffi's blog for an example. At one point during our wanderings in the village down a narrow, profoundly poor looking side street Karen made the following statement "Toto I don't think we are in Kansas any more". I agreed 100% and we convinced Steffi to turn around.
Friday morning we had an outstanding breakfast at the Inn. We then took a boat to another village around the lake called San Pedro where we had lunch and caught a shuttle bus with 9 new young friends from Australia, Israel and the USA. These young people were all living out of back packs for months traveling Central America. Anyways we all headed to Antigua where Steffi studied the spring of 2009. This too turned out to be a long bus ride of I am guessing 5 hours down the mountain. Several times the road was partially wiped away due to mud slides and what looked like water erosion. The view was awesome, but Karen and I were a little nervous. On both the trip up the mountain and down the mountain (departing the lake) there were numerous and I do mean numerous sections where the 4 way road went down to a 2 way road due to mounds of dirt/trees/rocks that resulted from the mud slides from a few weeks ago. When we got to Antigua the shuttle driver dropped us off at this bed n breakfast Steffi had read about. It was the nicest place we stayed at and it only cost $85. Steffi got her own room as part of the $85. Steffi and I walked around town while Karen showered before dinner. Steffi showed me where she lived last year and we found a nice restaurant. We also bought shuttle passes for Karen and I to get to the airport Saturday morning. While up in this loft buying the passes things started shaking for 5 to 10 seconds (yes an earthquake). We then picked up Karen and saw a few more sites after having a nice dinner. For desert Steffi treated us with a drink I forget the name of, but it tasted like a liquid rice pudding. It was muy bien!
Saturday morning at 12:45 AM I was awakened to more shaking (another quake) for a few seconds. That morning we took the shuttle to the airport and we were home by 6 PM.
It was a wonderful experience that I would not have wanted to miss. Guatemala has lots of poverty and they grow corn or some other crop on every inch of ground available. Hence, the mud slides. They also tie up their cows right along the highway to graze (very strange). Along the freeway we would see these often times old men with bundles of sticks/wood on their backs walking to their homes. Quite a site.
For more details call Karen or I as we will be happy to bore you with many stories. Gracias and Buenas Noches!
As for me, I am back into the swing of things here in Xela-doing laundry, going to the market, learning to cut pineapples with the girls of Nuevos Horizantes, and playing soccer with the kids of Caras Alegres. I love having visitors and traveling, but it is also nice to be back to work and my schedule. And for the record, the delicious drink is very common here and is called atol. Also, I am a gringa from Ohio who thoroughly enjoys the food that they sall at the bus stations :) Hope everyone is enjoying fall-eat something pumpkin and thank God for a colorful leaf for me!
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