May 30, 2012

Atitlan Adventures

Wow. We are so glad that leg of the trip is over. We were very excited for the little casa we had rented but circumstances not in our control turned a luxurious romantic getaway into a little piece of hell in the middle of heaven on earth. It wasn't all bad, but every time we went back to our casa tragedy struck. As I mentioned before as I was finishing up my last post a bat was swooping in at my head, which was a little disconcerting but more amusing than anything else. We decided to turn in for the night and did what we thought was a thorough inspection of the room and bed to make sure there weren't any unwanted visitors. Then the power went out so we sat in bed chatting for a bit about our plans for the next day. As we were lying there I could feel something next to my right ear. Thinking it was a flying bug I swatted it and half a second later jumped up shrieking at the top of my lungs.

This "friend" decided he wanted to bunk with us and when I tried to swat him away he stung me.
Creepy, eh? I told Jon I thought a scorpion had stung me and he told me I was maybe a little crazy. As I mentioned before the power was out so we couldn't turn on any lights. So I stood in the room paralyzed with fear, grasping my finger which was throbbing, while Jon searched through the bed to find the culprit with the light of his laptop. He found a small spider and thought maybe I had been bit by that? But I assured him it was something much larger. Soon we found him and Jon yelled, "Oh crap. You WERE stung by a scorpion." 

So we sprayed him generously with bug spray and woke up the landlords pleading for flashlights. We did a much more extensive search of the bed and I slept with one eye open the rest of the night. We were out in a remote village that you can only reach by boat and the last one leaves at 7:30 pm so there was no going anywhere. Luckily scorpions in that area aren't poisonous to humans, they just hurt for a few days. 

We woke up in the morning and headed out to visit some of the little villages on the lake. We took a public bus to San Pedro and this time the water was calm and beautiful and I wasn't fearing for my life because of the choppiness of the water. We walked around San Pedro for awhile and took some of these photos.
A church turned hospital

A picture of the town park and church

How granola do I look? It just got worse...

That is one good looking man next to a statue of Jesus

Jon wanted me to pretend like I was getting baptized here too. I thought it might be a little sacrilegious.

 After San Pedro we hopped in the back of a truck to go to the next town called San Juan. While we were there we picked up two cute paintings. It was a very enjoyable exchange and his wife gave us some homemade bracelets as a thank you for buying the paintings. I'm thinking of redecorating my kitchen in a central america theme.  
A school band was playing as we walked by

Here we are in the little restaurant where we ate lunch

We ate lunch at a little restaurant. When we walked in, no one was in there. Within moments of ordering, though, it was full of locals coming to eat lunch. It was delicious! You can't go wrong at a local hangout. We had homemade corn tortillas and guacamole. I had the grilled chicken and Jon had grilled steak. We played a "game" with the locals. Every time we looked at them they would just giggle like crazy. 

After we were done with lunch there were some rain clouds looming and we were a little afraid of being stranded in the jungle during a large storm so we headed back to our casa. As soon as we were there Jon started having allergies like crazy so we hiked up to Santa Cruz, the little village a few miles away from where we were staying, and found a little pharmacy and got some antihistamine for Jon. We also went into a little house and bought homemade tortillas from a woman for our dinner which we made back at the house. 

This was our little out door cooking area. It's also where I was attacked by a large moth and the bat...

When we were in Santa Cruz Jon's allergies were almost gone, but as soon as we got back to the casa it flared right back up. Soon he was having a little trouble breathing and he was wheezing, but just our luck we were stranded in a remote part of Guatemala and it was past when all the boats leave and the power went out again. Luckily we had kept the flashlights from the night before. So we watched a movie and got ready for bed and counted the hours before we could leave and be  done with this leg of our journey. When we woke up the water still wasn't back on so we left sans shower. Washed our faces and teeth from purified water in a jug and headed to Xela. (Pronounced Shayla) Now we are here and showered and there will be more to come on this adventure. 

May 28, 2012

"Buenas" from Guatemala

That's right. This blogpost is coming from Guate! You can follow all of our travels here.

The plane ride was uneventful. Other then the fact that we didn't really get to sleep at all on Saturday night. Not too abnormal an amount of turbulance. When we arrived in Houston we went in the United lounge and I found a corner, put on my eyemask and some ear plugs and sacked out for an hour. The plane ride to Guatemala we both fell asleep for a good portion of it. We were awake for the last 45 minutes or so. I woke up just in time to get a diet coke from the stewardess. Good timing if you ask me!

We drove to Antigua from Guatemala City and promptly got lost looking for our hotel. It's a little hard to find your way around here. Luckily we weren't in a huge hurry and so we just bumped along the cobblestone roads looking for Casa Madeleine on Calle del Espiritu Santo. Needle in a haystack my friends. We did find it though and it was this quaint little house that only had 6 rooms in it. We were the only guests and the staff treated us like royalty.
Our balcony in our room, a good view of downtown Antigua

Me in downtown Antigua, tourist much?

There were lots of ruins like this in the downtown and surrounding areas. Everywhere you look there is something super interesting to look at

The arch leading into a monastery. Yes there are this many people EVERYWHERE.

Our room. super messy, super small, but oh so charming.

We wandered around downtown Antigua for a few hours, and bought plenty of local goods. In fact there was one painting we really wanted to buy from this one guy. But it turned into a battle of wills and he wouldn't come down to our price. We had already over payed for 2 smaller paintings, so we felt we had to stay strong on the smaller price for the large painting. He never went down and we walked away. I'm praying we can find another painting we like as much because Jon regrets the decision a little. Shayla will be thoroughly spoiled with Guatemalan dresses and jewelry and toys by the time we get home. Then we found a little taco restaurant to eat at. The tacos here are much different then the tacos you get in America. They were on soft homemade corn tortillas with your choice of meat on it and then you could top it with pico or a salsa of your choice. So yummy. As we  headed back to the hotel we stopped at a little ice cream shop and walked home eating ice cream cones, and crashed. We went to bed at 8 and woke up 12 hours later. I guess we were pretty beat after our red eye! In the little market place there was a lot to see and a street performer who was done up like a clown with a white face and black makeup. He was riding a uni-cycle (quite the feat on cobblestone) and juggling. And making fun of people in the crowd for tips. 

It was a fun little stop and when we woke up in the morning we had breakfast at our hotel. It was delicious and there was a woman in the kitchen making the food for us. They also brought out orange juice for us. But the orange juice there is extremely sweet, there was almost no tang to it all. It was different and exotic. I guess that is what the oranges down here taste like. It was fresh squeezed and the most delicious orange juice I've ever tasted. 

Once we were ready and all packed up we headed down the road to go to Lake Atitlan. We are currently staying in a little casa. The only way to get here is by boat. When we arrived it started pouring rain and there were a few times as we sped across the choppy lake on a small little boat that I feared for my life. We caught air a few times and the waves were splashing in at us. Our only protection was a metal roof above our heads and some tarps attached to the side of the boat. The driver was getting soaked and would bend down while driving to bail water out of the bottom of the boat. 

This is the view from our little patio. You can see the path right down to the lake and the dock. 

And this is the casa. The kitchen is outside so tonight I cooked us dinner outside with just a small roof over my head. Such a different experience. 
We hiked into the nearest small town called Santa Cruz La Laguna and bought some tortillas for our dinner tonight. We had to cross a little creek (A fairly large creek honestly). Jon made it safely across. But I knew that with my lack of physical prowess it was a disaster waiting to happen. Sure enough I fell in. On the way back I just walked through it. I figured I would get less wet that way. Then we walked across this little make shift boardwalk that you think you will fall through any minute (Luckily that didn't happen) and up a steep hill to Santa Cruz. Earlier that day we had done all our shopping in a little outdoor market. It was a different experience and I'm sure I broke some cultural rule (Jon: Yes, you did) by walking back into a shop and starting to pick up some of the stuff we wanted. The people here are so helpful. I keep asking Jon if we should tip people and he just shrugs and says, I don't think so. Although a little boy did ask us for a thousand dollars on our way back home tonight. I guess we are Americano's and look wealthy? Haha! Jon told him no and to go home. 

Everywhere we go we walk and walk and walk. And our appetites are suppressed due to travel and your typical Central America tummy trouble. So I'm thinking this could be the best weight loss plan we've ever had. 

I miss Shay like crazy and woke up stressing out because I couldn't remember what I fed Shay yesterday and it stressed me out that I hadn't taken very good care of her. Then I remembered she was in good hands and that it wasn't currently my responsibility (Thanks Laura and Andy). What a trip! More to come... I'll update as long as we have internet access. 

Here are some flowers in the garden right outside our casa:

The view to the right of our casa. Yes I took this in our front yard.

And our own personal banana tree. They're green, but if they were yellow we would be picking our very own bananas. 

As I write this in our little patio a bat has come to visit me. I'm not in Kansas anymore Toto. 


We love having friends come visit us. Last weekend Dan and Lisa drove up from Santa Barbara and stayed with us for a night. It was relaxing and we don't have much to tell about it. We barbecued and the girls played, and played and played. Shay was so excited when we told her that Lydia was coming she refused to go to bed and was up when they arrived 3 hours past her bedtime. She still asks for "Lybia" all the time.

May 22, 2012

We're back!

For no good reason I seem to have taken a long break from posting. So I will catch all of you up through pictures.

We hiked through Angel Island with some friends in January. It was a beautiful day! We headed out to San Francisco in the morning and took a ferry to the island. There is only one ferry back so we spent 6 glorious hours hiking around and enjoying the beautiful scenery. We were all pooped by the end of it though!

In February Jon had 2 glorious weeks off from work. We spent one of the weeks in San Diego and went to Sea world. We went to all the shows and you can see a star fish on Jon's hand. Shayla still talks about Shamu and the dolphins. All in all it was one of the best vacations we've ever gone on. Relaxing and just a good family time.

The Ricci's came to visit in February as well. We saw as much of them as we possibly could. Boy we sure miss them. I can't believe they moved away a year ago! We're counting down the days until we go see them in Michigan. Shay is always asking for Lola (still) They are such kindred spirits. And Carrie was almost like a sister to me. I don't know if you can tell but we really miss them.

We went to Happy Hollow with friends. Shayla and Maisie rode the lady bugs for almost a whole hour. I think the workers may have been a little sick of them... Either way they giggled and had a grand time. Happy Hollow is Shay's favorite place on earth.

Our ward had an  Easter Egg Hunt and Shay thought it was great! She was so happy that all these eggs on the ground had candy in them! She was in heaven. Especially since there were M&M's and Jelly beans which are some of her favorite candies.

We tried to be extra festive and we dyed eggs with friends. Shay thought it was great. Although there was a little bit of an altercation over who got to dye the first pink egg...

I also had Shay decorate her very own bunny cake. I'm pretty sure most of the candy ended up in her mouth... And this is her in her Easter dress. What a pretty girl.
We went to go visit some of my family in Arizona, and Shayla overcame her fear of Dogs. This is Misty. She LOVES Misty. She still asks for Misty. When Shay would wake up in the morning, instead of calling "Momma" she would yell, "Oh, Misty!"
I just love this picture.

We have been having a great time the last few months and I just got so far behind that I didn't feel like blogging. But here is our life in snippets, through pictures. I got caught up in time to go to Guatemala with Jon! Expect many pictures of that trip to follow.