Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Fuse's Visit to Guatemala

Apparently in April, my resolution to write once a week fell apart.  I am not sure why.  April wasn’t boring.  It certainly flew by, but it was not boring.  I ran a few races, went a few places, had a few job interviews, and reconnected with old friends.  Life has been good—great, even. 

But all of a sudden it’s May.  I’m down to two more days with my kiddos at school, then it’s off to Tennessee for DI Global Finals, and then when I’m  back, 3 teacher work days, and then family arrives to tour the country and help me pack, and by the time they leave, my time will be pretty much over.  Time is flying.  Going way too fast.  But things are slowly and surely falling into place. 

Last week, I took three personal days off from school (and from all of the stress associated with ending the year and moving) and traveled with Fuse, a drumline friend from college who was able to come and visit.  Fuse (whose given name is actually Janelle, but I prefer the drumline nickname and intend to keep using it throughout this post) is a woman after my own heart.  She lives abroad and enjoys a good adventure in a new country as much as I do. 

I enjoyed being able to share a bit of Guatemala’s culture with her.  We found ourselves talking often about the state of things here—why the country is how it is, and some of the sad stories that go on here that you wouldn’t hear about if you didn’t live in Guate.  Invariably, of course, when talking politics I got to the point where I would have to say, “That’s really all I know.  I don’t want to give false information—we should talk to my friend Annette; she’s my source of news.” 

Fuse and I also were able to see a huge chunk of the country in just five days together.  We visited Antigua for a day (did some serious shopping at the market), then went on to Lake Atitlan.

We spent two full days there, which included a kayaking and hiking adventure and a trip on the extreme zipline cables in Panajachel.  It was a perfect trip.  When we arrived, the view was hazy, and we couldn’t see the volcanoes across the lake, but the next day, the clouds burned off and Fuse was able to appreciate the view—and the reason so many people love Lake Atitlan.  We made new friends at our hostel and were able to convince them to join us for kayaking.  We also spent the evening with them and several others at the hostel, playing games and discussing serious topics like whether or not Justin Bieber’s music is “objectively good” or not.  On the morning that we took the ziplines, the view was clear again, and the ride was as exhilarating and beautiful as ever.  After lunch on the waterfront, he headed off for our next stop: Xela.

We arrived in Xela before dark, and after checking into the hotel, wandered to the main square, where we found street food for dinner and enjoyed the plaza.  

Karina and Rachel met us late that night, after an epic, traffic-filled drive from the city on a Friday night.  The next morning, we were all up before dawn, packs filled, ready to tackle Tajumulco, the highest volcanic peak in Central America. 

We were blessed with great weather on our trek.  I had been told by multiple people that Tajumulco is a rather miserable hike—that the campsite is freezing and that a splitting headache due to the altitude is nearly unavoidable.  Fortunately for us, I didn’t notice either of these things.  Perhaps I wasn’t cold because I prepared for it (I had 5 layers on my top half and 3 pairs of pants on, as well as a hat and gloves and thick wool socks).  And perhaps I didn’t feel the effects of the altitude as acutely because of the slow, steady pace I maintained on the way up the mountain.  Whatever the reason, I felt very fortunate that the hike was pleasant in every way and not uncomfortable at all.  We had a great view from the top at sunrise the next morning, and then we booked it down the mountain to be down in time for lunch. 

Sunset behind Tajumulco's peak

Sunrise on the summit

Fuse and I

We arrived back in Xela on Sunday afternoon around 4:30pm, which was great.  We were delayed in our departure back to the city, however, by a flat tire on my car, which was sitting in a parking lot.  With a bit of help from a guy who happened to be around, and the tire iron and jack from Karina’s car (which are better quality than the ones in mine), we got my spare on the car, and we were on the road for home by 6:00pm, arriving in Guatemala City before 10pm (a respectable bed time for a school night, even!) 

It was an adventure filled five days, and I’m so happy I was able to share it with Fuse!  We made many memories and took plenty of pictures.  It’s a trip I’ll remember fondly forever.  

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