Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Guatemala...Part 1

Greg went to Guatemala on his mission about 5 years ago and promised many of the people that he taught and grew to love that he would be back in 5 years with his family. Well, he managed to live up to that promise and toted 12 other family members to a foreign country to show them around. We had a 12:30am flight on June 4th, so our friend Mike Allen drove us to the airport (Thanks again, Mike!) about 9:00pm on June 3rd. We would be flying a non-stop flight with TACA airlines and got to the LA airport and jumped in back of a LONG line full of Spanish-speaking people to check in and get our boarding passes. Well it turns out that they had cancelled all flights to Guatemala that evening in just the past hour (due to one of the planes being struck by lighting) and were rescheduling everyone to the following day at 1:00pm. I just took a deep breath and thought to myself, "Here we go..." It's become a running joke that whenever Greg travels, something goes wrong. He loses his passport, or misses a flight, or baggage goes missing, or in this situation an international flight is cancelled. I've already slept in an airport before and didn't want to do it again. We were in a real predicament because Greg was the "tour guide" and 11 other "Gringos" would be flying into Guatemala City tomorrow, arriving at about 11:30am. Which means they would be sitting there by themselves, not being able to speak a lick of Spanish, waiting for us to arrive around 5pm that evening. We would be driving to Coban to stay and that's about 5 hours away. Which means that there would be 13 Gringos travelling alone at night in Guatemala. Not a good situation to be in. So...Greg told me to stay put in line with our baggage and off he went to work his magic with his words. He found some airport employees who looked pretty important and spoke to them in Spanish and explained the situation. Because they didn't want to be responsible for anything bad happening to 13 Americans and understood the predicament we were in, they got on the phone and made some arrangements. Next thing we knew we were being whisked away to another line where the guy making the phone calls leaned over the counter and whispered something into the girl's ear and next thing we know we were given tickets to fly to El Salvador and then make a connecting flight to Guatemala City. The flight left about an hour later than originally planned, but no big deal. We didn't get to sit on the plane by each other and wound up on the only row on the airplane without reclining seats, but we'd do whatever it took to try and stay on the same schedule as originally planned. We tried to sleep as much as possible on the plane, and it went rather quickly. We arrived in El Salvador at about 8:00am and then rushed to our connecting flight that was leaving in 10 minutes. TACA airlines are wonderful! Such clean, new planes. We got breakfast on the first flight and they played the movie "Dark Knight", the second flight from El Salvador had leather seats and it had to have been new because it still smelled like new leather. That flight was only about 30-40 min, so I just read a book while Greg did a Sudoku puzzle in the airline magazine.

We arrived in Guatemala City and by the time we got our bag and went through customs, it was about 9:00am when we were sitting outside on the curb waiting for the rest of our family to arrive. Which was about 2 1/2 hours later...grumble. I'm not a very patient person, can ya tell? Greg talked to many of the Guatemalan people just making small talk and trying to explain that we didn't need a taxi or a tour bus to take us anywhere. It was so interesting seeing all the different types of Guatemalans waiting for their friends and/or loved ones to arrive. Some were dressed just like Americans and looked very nice, others looked like they came from poverty, and some were the indigenous Guatemalans dressed in their native garb.

The rest of our family arrived and we all piled into a shuttle and rode over to the car-rental place.

(Karianne, Me, and Halee)
We spent a couple hours trying to get the car-rental arrangements made as there was a problem with insurance and them trying to charge us an arm and a leg, when reservations had been made previously and the information wasn't matching up. When it all got figured out, we had a large van and an SUV rented. The SUV seated 5, and the remainder of people went in the van. We drove to Burger King and ate lunch and then we were on our way...or on our way trying to find our way anyway, to Coban. The pictures below give you an idea of what the area looks like. There are many stands along the roads with people trying to sell fruit and vegetables (as in the picture below) and so many stray dogs running around.

Check out all the power lines coming from just one pole! Crazy!

We drove all day and arrived in Coban around 9pm when we got to our hotel La Posada and checked in for the night. What a neat hotel! They had a restaurant there that the sweet workers stayed later than usual for us to serve us dinner. Then it was to bed for the night!


Bryan and Whitney said...

How fun! You guys are smart to travel in a big group like that. Can't wait to hear about the rest of your trip.

Courtney said...

How did I miss these posts? I think your settings are set to post them when they happened rather than when you posted them. Anyway glad I found them. Cant wait to see more pics from your trip. And little Dax looks adorable sitting in his airplane seat!

Sarah said...

How exciting!!
... every time we go somewhere, especially internationally, something goes wrong. I think it's a "normal" thing.
Can't wait for the rest of the story and more pics :)

Kara said...

Cool! that story is one to remember :)