Thursday, September 18, 2008

Squatemala & The Journey Home

Morningtime. We get on a flight headed for Guatemala City. Flores, Tikal, you were an experience. I never want to live in these places, ever. But I'm very happy that we had such an exciting adventure. You did not disappoint. So long.

Here i am in ill-fitting shorts, i now see, ready to board the plane. Note to everyone: Taca Airlines is AWESOME. At a time when airlines and flying are becoming increasingly suckier in every way, Taca was sooo nice.

We arrived at the Marriott in Guatemala City and I felt very much at home in the big city. Our hotel room was nice and normal. A bit boring, but that's ok. We dropped off our stuff and took a cab out to the handmade market of handmade things. It was delightful and we spent many hours there. Sean took a picture of this rug thing, which is indeed very Sean-esque.

We also passed a cactus. Cacti may not be the most interesting plants but they are very near and dear to my heart. Well, no, just one is. This one:

I got this plant for my 21st birthday and I loved and love it so much. I named it Cacti. It grew from a tiny 6 inches tall thing to what you see there. This particular cactus at the handmade market struck me because when I looked at it, I thought I could see before me Cacti's full potential. Dream big, Cacti. You've come so far already.

At the handmade market we decided to get some food. What we ate was some Mystery Meat. It was FOUL. We still don't know what it was. horse? I don't know, but I do know that i thank my lucky stars that i can't recall the taste of it because if I could, I could probably totally heave here & now.

Later on that day we ventured out again and took a cab to "Old Guatemala City" which I guess was this place:

I think we were still recovering from our escapades in Tikal so it was a chill day. We did go inside this building, aka a "cathedral." (I don't know why i said building)

It was cool except there was some kind of pre-wedding ceremony going on. I saw a bride in her bridal gown sitting and listening to a sermon directed at her. But it didn't look like an actual wedding ceremony. I wish i knew more about Catholic wedding proceedings but I felt extremely intrusive and totally weird that all these visitors were walking around while this seemingly important event was going on. So we left.

Here's a nice picture.

Finally we decided we should get some food, although, still, i wasn't feeling particularly hungry. I think i'd forgotten what that felt like, and I felt uneasy about it. NOT hungry? I don't understand. Anyway, we had the cab driver take us to a nice but not too nice restaurant (<-- those were the "directions" we gave him.) It was lovely and was called La Estancia.

I'm beginning to love restaurants that do different things for an automatic appetizer. Things other than a bread basket, for example. (though i'm also realizing i must have bread with my meal. Also: a bad baguette is a waste of space)

This place gave us... SOUP! love it. And it came with 3 different salsa-type things to mix in. love it more.

I look like an elf in this picture. Excellent.

We ordered the meat platter. Why? I don't know. Did we not get enough horse meat that day? I think it was because it's basically all they had on the menu (meat, not horse meat). Like I said, Guatemalans are no vegetarians. It was good though.

How can i drink something not in a giant glass now that we're home? It's been hard, I'll tell you. Also: Excellent straw face, Sean.

Oh, i have a quote. I think it's one of the last I recorded.

At La Estancia, I loved the soup and wanted to say so to the waiter. I asked Sean how to say "I loved this" and he told me, and that it also means, "it enchanted me." The waiter returned, I gave him my phrase, Sean interjected to correct a slight error, I rephrased it, and the waiter walked away, and I was pleased. Minutes later I asked Sean what I had said, knowing it was some small grammatical error, as always. He told me that I had said to the waiter, "I enchanted myself." ha hahaa... waiter, oh waiter! I love myself. Just wanted to tell you.

And that night is when it happened. The trip would not have been complete without it. The worst possible timing, as we were set to spend the entire next day on a plane or in an airport. Jen gets the runs. Hurrah!
I guess brushing my teeth and eating salads caught up with me. I should have known. Lame. Sean said, "they don't call it Squatemala for nothing." Dang you, Squatemala! *shaking fist*

4:30am, the alarm rings and we arise. We barely caught the airport shuttle and we got on our plane (Mexicana airlines) and flew to Mexico City in about 2 hours. We landed at 9:30 am and had a 3:30pm flight from there to JFK. Here's something interesting: Let's say your trip itinerary says you have 0 stops. Hurrah! Rejoice! (just typed 'rejuice'--what?) you say. Then you look at landing time at JFK which is 11pm (we gain an hour) and then you realize it's a 7-hour flight. SEVEN? I've been on a 7-hour flight before but not in a long time and since then i have come to LOATHE being on a plane. I take the JFK to Utah flight often and it's 5 hours and so many times I have come so close to completely losing my freakin' mind. I can't stand being on a plane that long. I get claustrophobic, my legs hurt, I slowly go insane, etc etc. This is me hyperventilating at the thought of being on a 7-hr flight:

The funny thing is that we didn't find out until the last moment that we actually had a connecting flight in Cancun. WHAT. This was an awful thing and somewhat good thing. The flight was going to be broken up. Well, that's good, i guess. But isn't. Another delightful turn of events: In mid-air, the weather got bad in Cancun so we had to land in Cozumel and sit for an hour before landing in Cancun for another hour. If there's something I hate more than sitting on a plane, it's sitting on a stationary plane. Aaaahhhh, read your Vanity Fair, Jen.

Sidenote: We calculated that on this trip, we had been on 7 different planes. NO MORE PLANES.

If I were to rate, on a scale from 0-10 the various venues of our vacation, here's how it would go:

Caribbean Villas: 7

Del Patio: 9

Mexico City Airport: -50,000,000

I have such violent feelings toward the Mexico City airport, and perhaps all the unpleasant experiences were confounded by my unpleasant health situation, but nevertheless! The airport was awful.

They use pictures with no words to tell you things. I really, really wish i had a picture of this. Bummer. But anyway, this is acceptable if you see a man/woman which clearly means "bathroom." That's universal. But they had one that had two planes, facing in opposite direction, forming a circle sort of, with curved arrows between them. What? We took this to mean "we may enter a state of war at any moment during the flight, at which point we will pause to combat enemy aircraft." Also, there was a picture of a man with what is obviously a pilot's hat, bending down and staring at an open suitcase. We took this to mean, "the pilot will rifle through your luggage while on the flight." And there was no other instruction or sign to go with it. Just these pictures!! Thanks. This could have been amusing and it was, but it totally made us forget something vital. We were so confused and at the end of our 50 I mean 5-hour layover, as we were checking in to board the next flight, we had to literally run to customs to check in from Guatemala which we had failed to do before because we saw no indication of where to do this or that we even had to, thanks to the poor airport layout and lame signs. So we almost missed our flight. GRRRRR!

(HEY! I just looked at the picture of me hyperventilating. Scroll up. In the background to the left you can see one of those pictures! It's the pilot rifling through your luggage. And you can see a tiny bit of the planes at war. Nice.)

Because we hadn't checked in at customs, we couldn't buy a lot of things in the airport. You have to have a stamp on your ticket or something. Also, when we landed from Squatemala, we were told to check back at the terminal we landed in, ONE HOUR prior to our estimated time of departure to be told where the actual gate was from which we'd be leaving. What? They wouldn't know until then? That's when you're supposed to board! Super annoying. Anyway, to summarize, we hated Mexicana Airlines, Mexico City Airport, Mexico City, and Mexico, because of all that. The airport was awful too because they had 1 restaurant and 900 perfume/chocolate/sombrero shops. I feel/sound like an annoying American but I don't care. It was an unpleasant day.

Here is Sean's reaction to the situation:

I will say, however, that Mexico City Airport has great bathrooms. Because guess what, Jen still has the runs and has to use the bathroom a lot and by a lot i mean no less than every 30 minutes. I'm going to say that if you have to have the runs, probably the worst place to have them is on a PLANE, unless you request that your seat be the bathroom, which i did not, stupidly. I was extremely fearful.

When we were running to check in at customs at the last possible moment, having learned of our folly trying to board our next plane, we were so annoyed and angry and tired and sick and blagh and I shouted in the ugly, eternally long terminal hallway, "BOO! HISS!" And I apparently had memory problems because a few minutes later Sean said, "Yes, now is a fine time for boo & hiss." And I said, "Buddhists?" Ha ha. We had a good laugh mid-angry run. "now is a fine time for Buddhists." I think that should all be our personal mantra. Anyway, this story sucks.

Regarding my "condition," I had only one near-miss on the plane. And it came at the worst possible moment. They had just given us food (foreign airlines still do this, though i'm not sure it's such a good thing) and I told Sean, "AW CRAP!" (i say nothing about the pun) I thought i was fine. I was fine. Noooo problem. Wait, NO. NO I'M NOT FINE. I MUST GET OUT NOW. NOW. NOW. I started freaking out. The truly wonderful thing is I was sitting at the WINDOW! yay! And everyone had their trays down as they were eating. Double yay! So I started scrambling to get out and saw the flight attendant pass our row with his tray, blocking me in. *gasp* Totally horrified. "Noooonononononononno!" I yelled frantically. ha ha. THe look on his face. "I need to get out!!" I said. He backed all the way down and I laid on everyone's laps and finally wriggled my way to the aisle and dove to the bathroom and all was well. Whew!

As I sat in my chair later on i reflected to Sean, "You know, this could not have been a worse travel day. I can't believe I have the runs. It's just maddeningly hilarious, and weirdly, I wouldn't have it any other way. It makes for such a great story. I don't love it now, per se, but I'm going to love it when it's all over."

And I do. I did a very poor job of telling this story, mostly because I'm really tired of talking about the trip and of trying to make it interesting and entertaining and i just want to get it posted and be done. But I will say this: I maintain my love for the adventure. I had NO IDEA this trip was going to turn out this way. I was surprised in so many ways, and it has been the best vacation EVER.




Joel said...

(Clapping and whistling) Bravo!

Alanna said...

Hey, Jen, even though I've never met you, I think we have WAY too much in common. When I did study abroad in Africa, half the things I did were mostly so I would have a great story to tell people later. But it sure makes life fun, huh?

And I think just reading your last post made me have to go to the bathroom. I guess that's some good writing... Or something!

Ashley said...

Ahhh... the finale. I feel so satisfied. I think you had all of the necessary elements for a great (south-of-the-border) trip: a delightfully strange tour guide, fancy drinks in giant glasses, unidentifiable meat, the runs, a high fever, and the beach, all accompanied by the unbelievably scary sound of howling monkeys. Good work.

)en said...

*curtsy* thank you, thank you.

Ha, that's great, Alanna. And "or something" indeed. It's ok, you can say TMI. :) It's true though, I really do love a good story to tell. I'm jealous you studied in Africa.

Aaaaash. I can't believe this trip contained all those things. What a great trip. Honestly, i will never forget it. Now i need to put all of this in my journal. I started a few days ago but got too tired when i thought about Tikal.

Lianna said...

Lesson learned: Don't eat strange meat just before flying!
I had a similar experience when I ate Panda Express before flying and unfortunately my 1 year old had the runs with me. I had to change his diaper in the airplane and everyone was waiting for me to sit down so we could take off.
So, now I will think twice about what we eat before flying.
I enjoyed your story. I'm glad you survived.

)en said...

You AND your kid? Bummer! (<-- I am SORRY! They just keep coming out! <-- ohhhh!)

hahaaa.. sorry, i have to laugh at what i just typed.

Aaanyway, that is rough. I had one bite of that meat and then no more so who can say from whence it came. I thought it was the water from brushing my teeth. But you're right, I think I'm going to not eat anything before a flight. It isn't worth it.

Brooke said...

Me reading this=me laughing very, very hard. Ooooo, man. Good times.

My retelling of my upcoming Yellowstone trip will be nothing near this cool.

)en said...

You never know, Brooke. Drink some water from the river and you may have an exciting adventure too.

I need to stop commenting every 10 seconds on my own blog.