our bus line
While in Guatemala City, we stay at CASAS, that Garden of Eden that I mentioned awhile back.
When we arrived last Tuesday evening, exhausted and hungry, there were six plates of food, salad, fresh pineapple, and a basket of tortillas awaiting us in the kitchen. Just looking at the food, I started to breathe easier, my muscles relaxed, and the tension from the day started to melt away.
They (not sure who) had reserved one of the apartments for us. In our apartment, there was a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and two bedrooms that slept four each. There were fresh towels galore, and hot water came out of the hot water taps. It was glorious.
And to make it all even more wonderful, our neighbors from back in Virginia/long-time friends/support team leaders were staying right next door in their own apartment. (They are leading EMU’s Central America Cross-Cultural.)
Looking into our neighbors' apartment from the porch: they are all gathered around the computer, attempting to call the States to send birthday wishes to their son-in-law.
We didn’t see them that first night, but when we got up the next morning, we discovered a note that had been slipped under our door: Coffee next door if you want! Um, YES.
They also brought me two bags of cocoa from Antigua!
That afternoon we headed to Santiago.
In the host family's kitchen watching (and later "helping") them make tortillas.
Note the airy walls, the dirt floors, and wood stove.
We slept and breakfasted in homes, but then we went, via pickup trucks in which we all stood in the back (the kids were thrilled)..
...to a gorgeous hotel on the edge of the lake for our all-day meeting.
The hotel grounds had a variety of decorative pools and structures, and there was a huge swimming pool with a diving board and two slides.
Sadly, however, they were all completely empty.
Our team is made up of a wide variety of people. Because we have non-English speakers—and the volunteers come from Bolivia, Honduras, El Salvador, Columbia, and the States—all the meetings are in Spanish.
While this can be difficult at times (hello thirteen years of not speaking Spanish!), I appreciate it. I am here to learn Spanish (among other things), and the meeting-type vocabulary is quite different from day-to-day-living-type vocabulary.
On the second day, we hopped on a little boat and zipped across the lake to a private beach.
It’s amazing how quickly it warms up here. Mornings are brrr-cold and require lots of layers. But by 9:00 in the morning, it’s warm enough (for some people) to go swimming.
The kids were fascinated by the large rocks that floated: lava rock.
They collected shells and swam and played ball.
That afternoon we headed back to Guatemala City and my older daughter contracted a stomach bug. At one point we stopped the van (thank goodness it was our own MCC van and not a public bus) and went door to door looking for a bathroom. We stopped several other times—once when my younger son nearly threw up (yes, he got the same bug, too), and then twice when my daughter threw up. The first time we caught it all with a plastic bag...that, we discovered, had holes in the bottom, FREAK OUT. The second time, we double-bagged and things turned out much better.
entertaining a bored child with a meandering tale
Our teammates were relaxed about all the puking. They haven’t had young children on the team for a good number of years—one might be inclined to call that bus ride a rude awakening—and they held up marvelously well under all the upheaval (ha! upheaval, get it?).
That evening, back at CASAS, the kids (expect for the puking daughter) watched videos (a TV! Videos! It really is the Garden of Eden!) while my husband and I walked over to the grocery store to load up on lentils, cheese, salsa (!!!), curry, and other exotics.
That night, the younger daughter violently hurled her supper all over the bedroom floor (ever try to clean up puke in the middle of the night in an unfamiliar place with no cleaning supplies to be found anywhere? Let’s just say that skillets and spatulas have more than one use), but the next morning at 6 am, we were all on the privately-contracted bus with the EMU students heading north, retching kids and all.
Here’s a picture of me sitting with my younger son. You can’t see it, but I have a double-bagged plastic bag in my finger tips.
A couple seconds later, my photo-taking husband had to toss aside the camera and leap to my aid.
Apparently, my younger daughter decided she’d better document the excitement. (It was a false alarm.) (As the trip wore on, the sick boy started to see the humor in the situation, so he'd sometimes cough and tense up, just to see me jump, the little stinker.)