The Journey Continues…

January 4, 2011 in Guatemala, North America, Travelogue



Family-Chichicastenango (Ruthie & Dennis, Phil (next to Tony) and David in front!


Guatemala City is a smoggy, noisy place.  All night long the buses and trucks and beeping cars run up and down in an unending stream of busy… just like New York, or Prague, or anywhere else… only with more tortilla vendors.


I have to admit, it’s not my favorite city; perhaps this is because I haven’t spent enough time here, I don’t know. It is, however, a convenient first night’s stop on the long journey north to Boston.



Next to my beloved Alte Plano, the dust and dirt of the city seems magnified.  The quiet, slap, slap, slap, slap of women’s hands patting blue corn tortillas in the center of the mercado at Chichicastenango has faded into the low roar of planes passing overhead.


It’s hard to believe that just two days ago we stood in the tomb like center of the incense soaked cathedral at one end of that square and watched a tiny man light candles, sprinkle the alter with roses and pour a drink offering to some unknown god around them.  I’ve not yet left the country and I’m a million miles away.




Presenting Marcario, our night watchman, with a painting Steve made of the lake.


I don’t know how the past two weeks could have been any better.  Jan & Steve, Tony’s parents, have had a wonderful visit.  For their first international excursion, it’s been a resounding success.  They jumped in with both feet and we’ve all had a blast.



The addition of our backpacking friends was the icing on the cake; Dennis’ surprise arrival was the cherry on top.  Truly, it’s been a charmed holiday season, one of those rare snippets of time when everything is perfect, the sun is shining, hearts are happy and I catch myself thinking, “Wow! This is my life!” while pinching myself just a bit to make sure I’m not dreaming.


It was hard to kiss my people goodbye yesterday.


We all took the boat to Pana and spent the day doing the last of Grandma & Grandpa’s shopping for gifts to take home.  Hannah was such a trooper, crutching up and down Calle Santander, the equivalent of a couple of miles, I’d guess, so that she wouldn’t miss a moment.




Hannah resting (or begging!) in Panajachel.


When she got very tired she’d sit down on the sidewalk and lean her back against the steps of a hotel next to the street vendors and wait, while Grandpa and Ez negotiated the best price on a bracelet or belt.  We returned to find her giggling.  She opened her hand to the wide-eyed envy of her brothers, and displayed two coins, 1.5Q; someone had taken her for a beggar and given her change! “That’s almost as good as playing your violin on the street!” Someone mentioned.





Mi amiga Josephina


We ate one last lunch with Josephina, who remembered los suegros and was happy to see them back; even when Grandpa fell backwards off of her plastic “Pepsi” chair, breaking the leg off.  We mopped up sauce and black beans with handmade tortillas and I asked her what I could bring her from the USA. She had no idea; I’m thinking maple syrup would be a novelty.



Jairo was johnny on the spot, as usual.  The ride to Guatemala was uneventful and he happily stopped at the various miradors for Steve to get “one last picture” of several things.  Every time I make this trip I’m happier to have a driver instead of a chicken bus.  Especially in the dark of night!


This morning, I’m working in the hotel lobby and enjoying the last bit of relative quiet (with buses and trucks and tuk-tuks roaring by the open door of the hotel, spewing exhaust through the opening).  We board the shuttle for the airport in about an hour to begin the long flight to New England.


My re-entry will be in stages, as I pass the night in Atlanta (52F according to the morning news) before arriving in Boston (33F) in the morning.  I’m dreading the weather, but looking forward to the people with my whole heart.


As fast as this two weeks has passed, I know the next will go at least as quickly.  I’m thankful for the technology and the means to make a quick trip, hug a new baby, pamper a new Mom and deliver little slivers of paradise in the form of coffee and gifts to a few of the many we miss.


Fasten your seat belts, the journey continues.