Guatemala 7/3/2014 - 7/8/2014
Thursday 7/3/2014 - ArrivalWe woke up at 4 a.m., got some last-minute things ready, and fed our new cats Inca and Maya. This was our first trip since adopting them, and they are still confined to a single safe room. Craig's brother Steve would take care of them while we were gone.
We left the house at 5:24 a.m. and parked in Central Parking at Logan Airport. We checked two bags and went through security quickly. By the luck of the draw, we were able to go through TSA pre-check, so we didn't need to take anything off or out of our bags. We went to McDonald's for breakfast. Craig got Egg Mcmuffins and I got bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits, plus hash browns and orange juice. We got large water bottles at Cosi.
We boarded at 7:30 for our 8:00 a.m. flight. The flight seemed very empty, though the flight attendants had warned us of a full flight. Come to find out that the computer system had gone down after we checked in and many passengers had to be checked in manually. This same thing had happened 4 years before when we came here with Mukul. We hoped that we wouldn't miss our connection this time.
When finally all of the passengers had boarded, we were in a long line for takeoff due to a hurricane in the southern east coast. Apparently the whole eastern seaboard was affected.
We took off an hour late at 9:05. We were supposed to have an hour and 40 minute layover in Miami, so this did not bode well for our ability to make the connection. We hadn't requested a wheelchair as it isn't usually a problem on the way to Guatemala, but we din't know if Craig would be able to move that fast to make a 49 minute connection.
We were nervous on the flight, as I realized that Humberto had gotten a new cell phone and I didn't know if his number had changed. So if we missed the connection, would we even be able to contact him?
We landed in Miami at 12:04 p.m., and our flight was scheduled to take off at 12:40. Deplaning took a few minutes, and our connection was at the next terminal. We needed to board the Sky Train to get there in time, but there was a sign saying it was out of service. This was our 13th trip to Guatemala, and it seemed to be living up to its reputation.
Not knowing what to do, we followed the crowds up the stairs anyway as the Sky Train arrived. What was going on? Turns out just an escalator was out of service. We hopped on the Sky Train and took it to the next stop. I looked at my watch. If they truly closed the doors 15 minutes prior to departure, we would probably miss the flight by a minute or two. I ran as fast as I could with Craig making his way behind me. We heard an announcement that it was the final boarding call for our flight. As I approached the gate I frantically waved to the crew members at the desk. "My husband has MS and is getting here as fast as he can..." The woman reassured me that all was fine and that the flight would be slightly delayed due to a lightning storm. We wish the status board had said that so we didn't kill ourselves trying to get there on time. But we didn't care...we had made our flight against all odds.
We hadn't had time to use the restroom and we got onto the flight all sweaty. "Did you come from Boston?" one of the flight attendants asked? "Yes," I gasped. "We were waiting for you!" After us, a few other folks we recognized from our earlier flight boarded. We used the plane rest room, thinking we would take off any minute.
Then they announced that the storm had subsided and they were free to commence loading the final luggage. Hopefully ours was part of that. Once the luggage loading was done, they announced that that there was a maintenance issue with one of the radios. The maintenance team was in the process of fixing an antenna and we would be on our way as soon as possible. We sat patiently waiting, until they announced that the antenna replacement hadn't fixed the problem and they were "looking for new equipment". Craig was sure that this meant a new plane rather than a new radio.
At 1:50 p.m., they announced that they had found a new plane for us. We got off the plane and walked a few gates down, where a flight to Newark had just been canceled. We had a few minutes while the crew transferred to the new plane, and so I tried to call Humberto. Neither number I had worked. I called Steve at home, and luckily he was able to log into my Hotmail for me and get the new number from Humberto's e-mail signature.
I called Humberto and told him we would be at least 2 hours late. He said that the driver was probably already at the airport but that he would call him and say we wouldn't arrive until around 4 o'clock. We had an estimated departure time of 2:45 Eastern Daylight Time, so we would probably get there closer to 3:15 Guatemala time. Four o'clock would give us a buffer to go through immigration, customs, and pick up our checked bags.
Humberto said that Eddy had already been asking when we will arrive every 10 minutes. It would be as long an afternoon for them as it would be for us, LOL. Humberto thanked us for calling, and we boarded the plane at 2:30.
They still had to reload all of our luggage after removing it from the previous plane, and we didn't end up leaving until 3:48 p.m. EDT. The pilot was very apologetic and the crew and passengers were pretty good natured about it. We were now targeting a 4:05 p.m. landing, Guatemala time. So much for that buffer! They gave away free headsets that were more comfy than our Apple earbuds, so we took them and listened to our Ian Gillan music.
During the flight, I got up to go to the bathroom and Craig heard Craig say, "You sat in gum!" Lovely! Now there was gum on the back pocket of the one pair of jeans I had brought. I guess I hadn't seen it when I had sat down. I went to the galley and told the flight attendant what had happened. I asked for some ice. He said, "What else can go wrong?" I told him about our day so far coming from Boston, and said that he wasn't kidding. He gave me ice, napkins, and a small towel to sit on, and asked the seat number so that maintenance could clean it later. I went into the bathroom (where the sink didn't work and was full of packages of wet naps) and luckily was able to freeze the gum with the ice and pick all of it off my pants. It was our 13th trip alright!
We landed at 4:05 p.m. local time, went quickly through immigration, picked up our bags, went through customs, and went outside at 4:30, where driver Juan was waiting for us. We were 3+ hours late, and now had to deal with rush hour traffic, but at least we had made it to Guatemala.
The traffic was very bad, so Juan took an alternate route out of the city. We ran into some rain showers, which of course makes the going even slower. We were absolutely exhausted, and we still hadn't arrived yet!
We arrived in Panajachel at 7:45 p.m. Aracely and Eddy were waiting for us in front of the office. Yoselin, Vanesa, and Paola came out to greet us.
It had been over 16 hours since we left the house, and we were spent. It was surreal to be here now, inundated with all of the changes since we last visited. Yoselin had grown very tall! As the 4th child, she was very close to being the tallest now! Yoselin is still the same sweetheart she has been since we met her at age 4. She always has a beautiful smile on her face, and she is effortlessly polite and cheerful. If the camera ever points in her direction, she is gorgeously photogenic. Always.
To our surprise, we were led upstairs to our new second floor room by Humberto, Paulina, Aracely, and Eddy. This was the most recently completed guest room, and Humberto assured us that however much we had loved our first floor room, this one was even nicer. There were now 4 completed rooms downstairs (two of which are bedrooms for the older four girls) and this one upstairs. The other 3 upstairs rooms were also very close to completion.
The room was gorgeous. There was a beautiful piece of artwork on the wall which Paola had made Paulina for Mother's Day. There were two beds, and the wall paint and floor tile was very light and made the room look huge. There were nice windows in the room and en suite bathroom.
We chatted with Humberto, Paulina, Aracely, and Eddy in the room. Aracely showed us two pictures of her from school, and she gave them to us to keep. She had just finished 3rd grade and was about to turn 9. She is now perfectly fluent in English, and can easily switch between Spanish and English depending on her audience. Eddy would soon be 6, and had just finished kindergarten. Although he would only speak an isolated word or two of English at any time, he definitely understands a lot more than he did 6 months ago when we visited for Paola's quinceañera. We are so proud of both of them, our two precious godchildren.
Eddy asked about the otra (other) camera right away and I let him use it. The kids always love using my spare camera, and they get a lot of good photos. Aracely asked if she could play with the computer and I said we'd do it tomorrow. Eddy asked about regalos (presents), and Aracely told him to wait until tomorrow.
We all went down to the dining room for dinner. We had toasted ground corn tea (maiz tostada imolada) to drink. We had ham and vegetables with cheese sauce and tortillas to eat. The kids watched TV while we all chatted. Humberto asked Craig how his health was doing since his MS attack last fall. Craig explained that his medicine had changed - he no longer had to take an injection each day. The kids were thrilled to hear this, as they had always been morbidly fascinated by the process, despite themselves. Now he only had to take two pills orally each day, which was much easier than traveling with syringes which need to be refrigerated in hot climates like Guatemala. Craig explained that he had been doing relatively well, but that he still has balance issues sometimes and needs to be cautious when walking.
It had been a long stressful day getting here, so we were quite tired. We went to bed at 10 without having seen Yasmin at all. Aracely knocked at our door a couple minutes later delivering nice cold Gatorades. That is something they have always done for us, trying to help us keep hydrated. We really appreciate their thoughtfulness. I wrote in the journal and we went to sleep at 10:20 p.m.
Craig and Aracely
Craig, Aracely, Eddy, and Steph
Craig, Eddy, and Aracely
Craig and Eddy
Yoselin and Aracely