Thursday, September 11, 2008

Belize It or Not. Hola, Guatemala

Part III

Something I have always wanted to do is go parasailing. And guess what? I did it. It was a super fun time. It wasn't as thrilling as I had anticipated. More of a leisurely ride to enjoy the scenery. Still, it was pretty cool. What a view. I am boring myself. This post is not off to the best start.

Here are some pictures.

Here we are getting harnessed in.

I was very excited.

And we're off!

As our 5 days on the Caye came to a close, sufficiently rested, a bit sunburned, we geared up for the 2nd half of our trip.

Hotel room quote:

There were 4 yogurts left the morning of our departure to Guatemala. 3 yogurts were a familiar brand and 1 was not. I had decided to purchase a local brand. Sean was eager to get it all eaten.

Sean: "Eat some yogurt!"
Jen: "Oh right! I think I'll have the sketchy one."
Sean: "Yeah, gotta take every opportunity to get sick before you leave."


We boarded the tiny plane and flew back to Belize City where we were to meet someone who would take us(?) to Guatemala somehow. Ha ha. We really had no idea what we were getting into and this is where the Guatemalan adventure begins.

The plane ride was good. We laughed at how scrappy it was. I think I'm going to start using that word instead of "crappy." No, no i won't. I love crappy too much. But still, scrappy is a nicer way to say it, no? And it wasn't a crappy plane, per se. But, well, here's a picture:

Sean was laughing at the haggardness but I don't think it was that big of deal. But I was distracted by the cool shadow the plane cast on the clouds.

Cool. It's inside a rainbow ring.

Here are some more pictures from the sky.

This one was barely from the sky. I'm pretty sure we clipped some palms as we landed.

We landed and met our driver. I have a blip about that.

Our driver is named Roy. His parents are from India but he grew up in Belize. Thus his accent was confusing me. But I swear I hear a bit of an Irish accent. At times he sounds exactly like Carol O'Connor, except also with a slight speech impediment tossed into the mix. He is super friendly and knowledgeable. His skin is dark brown, his hair is youthful looking yet the perfect salt & pepper mix, and he misses about 3 front teeth. He tells us a lot about Belize. The drive is interesting and I am trying not to get car sick and puke my guts out.

What a good blip.

The drive was about 4 hours long and we arrived at the border. "Use the restrooms here, if you know what's good for you" Roy said. Ha ha, alright(?) Here is a picture of me in what they call No Man's Land. I am wearing the t-shirt that I ended up purchasing, and that I love more than life itself.

I loved this saying most of all because, although it's meant to attract you to Belize (I assume), it could have another meaning, as if to say, "You could come to Belize. Or not. Whatever. It's not that impressive." As if its opinion on Belize is lukewarm. My opinion, however, is not. So long, Belize. You were good to us. Your exchange rate was easy to calculate (1:2) and you spoke a language I understand. I don't really feel like I got to know the "real you" but I liked what I saw.

p.s. The theme song of our trip was actually the theme song to The Greatest American Hero. "Believe it or Not." Sean sang the actual words. I sang the words that George Costanza sings as his answering machine message, and I sang it over, and over and over and over again. "Belize it or not, George isn't at home..."

"Welcome to No Man's Land," a jolly man named Carlos said. He worked for the tour company that set up our whole trip. He was very friendly and would be traveling with us, an hour and a half, to our hotel, with our driver, Anastasio, who was a small cute man who spoke some English but not much. Here is when Sean and his Spanish-speaking abilities save our very LIVES. We drove in that red van, and as the scenery became greener and the roads bumpier and less paved, I was unsure of upcoming events, but ready for anything.

This was a Thursday. Our hotel was in a town called Flores. We were to spend the rest of the day doing whatever, and the following day we would be picked up by Anastasio again for the hour-long trip to Tikal where the great Mayan temples and ruins reside in the heart of the jungle. Our hotel was called Del Patio and I'm thinking it wasn't situated in the best area, but the hotel I loved. It was so, so cute and much more foreign-feeling than Caribbean Villas.

I love being in a foreign land. I love that feeling, so very much. I love to picture where I am on a map and then just bask in the knowledge that I am THERE, on that spot. THat cool spot that is so far away from my home. I love that. I tried to explain this to Sean but he just stared at me. But I love it. Did I mention that I love it?

What I do not love, however, is not being able to communicate with people.

A journal entry:

As soon as we arrived at our hotel in Guatemala, I immediately became obsessed with the language. I desperately wanted to be able to communicate with the staff, servers at restaurants, and people in general. But I couldn't. So I spent the entire 3 days in Guatemala constantly asking Sean, "what's this in Spanish? What's this?" Sean really enjoyed it. I was a fiend. I mean truly, nonstop it was that way. I felt trapped and tongue-tied and I hated it. French kept wanting to spill off my tongue which was aggravating. Sometimes I'd just give in and speak French (to Sean). It wasn't Spanish but it was a different language and that helped to ease my frustration somehow.

Also, very often I would guess the Spanish word by taking the French word and make some sort of adjustment. I would also try to just flat out guess if a word or sound I made was a word in Spanish. This sounds totally ridiculous, and it was, but it derived from my digging up from the depths of my brain words I've seen or heard in my lifetime that may have been Spanish, but I either didn't notice or care at the time. But these "words" were now popping up in my brain constantly. (for example: Huevos rancheros. Why? Sean said it was probably on the menu at Village Inn. ha ha.)

What little Spanish I knew, I used it. Sean would ask me something and I would say "no se" or "si." We watched television and a few channels were in English with Spanish subtitles. I would sit on the edge of my bed and read them out loud as fast as I could hoping that reading them would make me understand, somehow. Spanish pronunciation is quite simple and I think I'm alright at it. I've resisted learning Spanish throughout my life for no real reason other than it's never been my preferred language to learn. But it would come in handy in so many situations and I think now is the time. Plus I think I would pick it up like THAT.

As we all know, learning languages comes relatively easy to me.

(sorry for this somewhat boring post. Now is where it gets interesting...) (I like the now/where combo.)


Anonymous said...

Darn, now I have the believe it or not song in my head... except I'm singing the homestar runner version from halloween years ago with belize: "Belize it or not, I'm walking around. I never thought I could trick or treat..."

Joel said...

Ah, Jen. You're really a linguist at heart, which I can totally identify with.

)en said...

It's true. I try to break the grammar rules and do, but i know, deep down. It's like a conscience that I try to shut off.

Britta, that is hilarious. I had no idea there were so many versions. Glad to pass along the Belize it or Not song. Seriously, it was stuck in my head for days, and probably will be again just from talking about it.

Pedersen Posse said...

I can't believe you went parasailing. There is NO way you could ever get me up there. I'm such a chicken when it comes to heights. I'm also very jealous of your adventures... maybe one day when my kids are older... I'll be world traveller like Jen.

Lianna said...

It's hilarious that you were singing the George answering machine song because the day before I read this post I was singing it and thought, "That's weird, it's been like 5 years since I saw that episode ONCE and I can still remember that simple song. I wonder if anyone else would know what I was talking about." And then you posted this and I realized why it was in my head and cracked up when you mentioned it. I don't know any other version. Good job Seinfeld writers for coming up with a catchy answering machine jingle.
I am enjoying your posts, I feel like I was there with you :)