Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Family Time in Guatemala

I dropped my parents off at the airport this morning.  With a quick, fierce hug and a slamming of the trunk, I pulled away and left them on the curb, scurrying to check in for their 7:30am flight.  It feels like they were here for so much less than five full days.  We had a great time while they were in Guatemala, of course, but the time flew by much too quickly.

Mom and Dad and my sister Liz arrived around 8pm on Thursday night.  On Friday, the accompanied me to school and were able to see where I work (and meet a few colleagues) as I rushed around cleaning my classroom, going to the last meetings of the year, and getting the signatures I needed in order to check out for the summer.  By 1:00pm, I was ready to go, and with my pack horses in tow (parents and sisters are always best when put to work—especially when one dislocated her shoulder a week previously and really shouldn’t have been carrying much with her left arm) we headed home briefly, then went to lunch in Cayala with Amanda.  The family was suitably impressed with the restaurant, food, and the white monstrosity that is Cayala.  

Walking around Cayala after lunch

We returned to my house and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon (Amanda and I met up with Carrie and went to purchase bus tickets for next week’s adventures), and in the evening met up with Annette and Joel for dinner at L’Osteria.  It was another beautiful restaurant with very good company, and we all came back home quite pleased, I think.

On Saturday, Liz and I got up early and went for a run on the trails.  When we returned home, Amanda had breakfast made for us: eggs with spinach and onions, ham, and toast.  I could really get used to having a full house—people to cook and eat with all the time.  After breakfast was put away, we set off for Antigua.  Of course we hit mid-day traffic and it took us nearly an hour and a half to arrive (when 45 minutes should have sufficed), but again, the company was good and I don’t think anyone minded too much. 

In Antigua, we checked into our hotel, ate a quick lunch, and then my family went to a chocolate-making workshop while Amanda set off on her own to explore Antigua for a few hours. 
The chocolate workshop was a great choice for us. They walked us through the entire process of making chocolate: from harvesting the beans all the way to molding.  It was a perfect mixture of information and hands-on action, and we all learned a lot and enjoyed doing it.  We also got to take home chocolates that we molded ourselves, which is always an added plus. 

That evening, we went to a restaurant called Fonda de la Calle Real, which was another win.  Each of us ordered a different typical Guatemalan dish, and no one was disappointed by their fare.  We all left stuffed and disappointed that we had no way to keep leftovers for the next day. 

Antigua wanderings

Sunday morning started, as every Sunday morning in Antigua should, with breakfast as Hotel Casa Santo Domingo.  After eating, we walked around exploring the grounds and the ruins of the convent which once was housed there.  The day was beautiful, as were the views, and it made for a perfect morning.

Around noon, we checked out of our hotel in Antigua and hit the road for Lake Atitlan.  By mid-afternoon, we had parked the car in Panajachel and were aboard a boat to take us across the lake to our hotel in Santiago.  The speed of the boat took Liz by surprise, and we laughed our way across the lake as we made our speedy way across.

Upon checking in at la Posada de Santiago, we were blown away by our rooms.  It turns out we had rented a small house, not just a cabin for the night.  We had three bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, and living room/dining room/kitchen area, and an expansive front lawn.  We were all blown away.  So we commenced to enjoy our paradise.  We used the hot tub, sat admiring the view of the lake and the volcano and the many flowers on the hotel property, we read books and took naps and enjoyed leisurely meals at the restaurant in the hotel.

La Hacienda--the "room" where we stayed

On Monday morning, Liz and Amanda and I, along with Carrie and her sister and brother-in-law, boarded another boat at sunrise and went to hike Volcan San Pedro.  San Pedro is the smallest of the three volcanoes at Lake Atitlan, but it’s still an impressive hike.  We made it up in about 3 hours, taking our time and pausing often to enjoy the view.  At the top we were blessed with clear skies and unobstructed views of the entire lake and the other two volcanoes.  

Sunrise on the lake.  Photo credit to Liz. 

After lunch, it was back down and across the lake to meet up with Mom and Dad for an afternoon of more relaxation—naps, reading, and watching the USA play Ghana in the World Cup (the US won). 

Tuesday morning after breakfast, Amanda and Liz and I took a canoe out on the lake for a short paddle.  (I sat in the middle and did no rowing, seeing as that would probably not make my recently dislocated shoulder very happy.  I had the best seat).  J  It was a great way to end our vacation.  But like I said, it ended too quickly, and suddenly mom and dad’s trip was over and we were driving back to the city and watching them pack before bed. 

Whole family in front of our hotel room in Santiago

It was a good time, though.  For their first trip to Guatemala, I’m pleased with the amount my family was able to see and do.  They experienced a slice of my life here, met some of my friends, and we able to see some of the most beautiful parts of this country.  Mission accomplished, eh? 

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