Friday, September 30, 2011

August 19, 1993

Today is September 30, 2011. As I was cleaning my book shelf, a little notebook fell out. This is my log of our trip to Guatemala. We took lots of photos but it will require scanning, storing, and loading onto this site...all the process that is extremely painful for me because I have no patience for such things. So I hope my husband Tom will be gracious enough to designate some time for that eventually. Trip comes alive when there are photos. If I have any emotional memories or comments, I will enter. Here it goes....

August 19, 1993
Our advanture began yesterday at midnight at O'Hare, Aviateca Airline. All those in line before and after us spoke only Spanish - already I felt we were foreigners...Tom, myself, Henna (11), Christian (9), Seth (6) and Elizabeth is not born yet.

The plane which lifted at 2 AM, I was hoping we would get ...oh 3 hours of sleep. Well half of it got interrupted by their extremely good food service; juice & pop cart, followed by wine, champaign & beer cart, followed by gourmet dinner. It is incredible trying to eat steak or fancy pasta at 3:30AM with wine. By 4 AM all the lights were out and we are to go to sleep.

It was 5:30 AM when we landed in the airport of Guatemala city, we walked down the steps to the concrete outdoors with dust flying from planes landing. As we entered the building, it did not seem less dustier than outside.

There was no familiar face waiting for us. Tom had told Mario some days ago the date we would arrive and that was all.  We looked out to the street where cars were buzzing around. They all looked like junk yard, rusted, old cars that somehow got revived. The air was dense with car exhaust. None of us spoke Spanish and we did not have Mario's phone number or his address. I imagined us being stranded here at the air port not being able to get connected with Mario. It was sickening feeling. Tom said, well, if all else fails, we can call dad. He should have Mario's address and/or phone nunber.

Some observation at the airport was a bit frightening. There were so many people dressed shabbily and obviously not bathed for a while. There were no place to sit down to wait.  I saw two or three men-obviously homeless, who ran down the stairway with a sleeping roll  hung over their shoulder. When they reached ground level they went under the stairway and threw down their sleeping roll.

 It was the longest one hour wait. We saw Mario running towards us. We were so happy to see him. We struggled with our luggage to his car. To our dismay it was a small Volkswagen beetle. There were six of us plus  luggage. He offered to run two trips. I don't remember how we did it. We managed to squeeze in and made in one trip. It felt like the small car could burst.

Cars, my I've never seen so many cars. It almost seemed like a junk yard came alive. Mario drove a twenty-eight years old Volkswagen. Mario says even very old cars are very expensive. For example 1979 Toyota Corolla (14 years old) goes for $2000.00 US. In the states the same car may cost $100.00 US.

Drive home was very interesting. Concrete homes everywhere. People were every where....sidewalks(?) if you could call it that! Roads were paved but no repair has been done for a long time. It was a very rough ride home due to unavoidable pot holes.

In the afternoon, after a long needed rest, Mario took us for a ride. Close your eyes when you come near an intersection or when ever an old cranky bus tries to pass you. It is scary. The scenery was filled with crowded bustle. Going through downtown one can see fancy shops lining the streets. But one could hardly see them because what is visible is the sidewalks filled with vendors trying to sell their goods in their home made, cheap clap board or aluminum planks, and wooden stands. Their only protection from rain was sheets of plastic. How easily their merchandise could be ruined if there is only a slight rip in the plastic. I saw a vendor who had spread his goods on the ground. It was raining hard. He was trying to hastily to cover his goods with a plastic sheet.