Saturday, February 4, 2012


Where to even begin... Every ninety days my visa needs to be renewed, and for our first trip back in November Emely organized un viaje a Guatemala. I was looking forward to experiencing a new country, but I really wasn't sure what to expect. I'm of course pleased I went into the trip without expectations. I said "increíble" so many times I'm inspired to look in a thesaurus for some synonyms. I've gone through some major spiritual development over the last...since I've been here. Every day I'm learning more and it's like the lessons I'm learning are hand-selected, special for me. ...what's kind of exciting is that I jotted that down in a journal months ago way back in November, and it still holds so true...

At the time of the trip, and maybe/likely even still, I'd been struggling with stress management and letting my mind calm down. That weekend was exactly what I needed. Que regalito. The trip Saturday morning was a bit longer than any of us were expecting, but it ended up being an incredible day. I saw the sun both rise and set that day! And what was cool about that was each time the view was undisturbed by wordly distractions. Nothing but  outstretched earth and bright, breathtaking sky. The sun was rising as we happened to be driving through a big stretch of no-man's land (the same stretch where I saw a rainbow coming home from San Pedro a while back), and I watched it set over the river in Guatemala. From a boat! Que bendicion. So Saturday's sunrise...I'd fallen asleep in the van, but I popped my eyes open at one point to a view of clouds that were just starting to part over the mountains, illumniated by a tiny section of pink. Up ahead the sky was dark, and to my left were clouds of gray... but to my right was the beginning of the sunrise and I smiled in appreciation of this little reward for waking up so early. It was of course smiley foreshadowing for the day that lay ahead, but I didn't make that connection until later. Once we reached Guate and were winding our way up the streets of the town I couldn't get over the smiliarities between our markets. All the colors of Central America could keep you entertained for hours. It makes me wonder if the makers of Crayola didn't spend time in A de C during their color-planning stage. I have been feeling like I'm so much more aware of my senses here--sights, sounds, scents and even textures.
El Castillo--that surely has a proper name, but I really have no idea!
Emely found us a tour guide with a boat, and we set out on the river. We road by an old castle that was smaller than I imagine castles to be, but the canons and cuentos de piratas made me smile. We were all very hungry after the long bus ride, so we stopped at a little restaurant for some much needed yum. I had fried fish (mojarra) and it was fantastic. As you can tell... Oh and Emely shared some food ettiquette over lunch: Si nada o vuele lo puede comer con las manos--if it swims or flies you can eat it with your hands.

So we spent the bulk of Saturday in a boat on Río Dulce; it was a nice day filled with nature's wonders, and when it finally came time for bed I lay down with a corazón llenado de gozo.The Guatemalan river banks were spotted with these grass-roofed "huts" that looked so cool. So of them were so large I can hardly consider them huts, but with the grass roof I'm not sure what they'd be called. After lunch we a long way up the river to Livingston which was a neat little town, filled with all sorts of extranjeros. The view from the middle of the river was incredible. Something about the water helps me recenter, and as I write this I'm thinking about the lovely lake we have so close to home. I'd forgotten a student's dad offered to take us out on their boat anytime we wanted--excellent idea, sir! We all took turns dozing off at one point or another,and it was nice to get a little nap with the wind in my face and my feet dancing over the edge. I'm glad I didn't sleep too long because the mountains almost demanded attention. There were so many types of trees I was missing Teets and his botanical wisdom. The mountains were high on both sides and covered with trees. There were these tall, super skinny trees that stuck out here and there, especially around the top of the mountains. They were all flaquito trunked with a tiny bush of leaves at the very top. Totally adorable, but seemed a little out of place, like Dr. Seuss trees as I think Irene called them!

When we arrived in Livingston we wandered around town for a while and all enjoyed some local treats. I had my first coconut with a straw sticking out of it, and it was delicious. On the ride back down the river we stopped at a natural hot springs and went for a nice little dip. It smelled like pure sulfur, but the water felt incredible. I think we all felt like we could feel the stress just melting away. Night started to fall a little sooner than any of us seemed to be expecting, which made for a chilly boatride home since we were all wet from the hot springs (and none of us had a towel!) but we managed just fine. The view of the sky was incredible. There I go with the increíble! The sky was doing some amazing things, and I'm not sure any of my pictures do it justice. The way the blue mixed with the oranges and pinks in these beams of light streaked across the was really something.

Maria isn't overly comfortable out on the water, so we snagged her a life vest and she seemed much happier!

My first coconut! She thought I was loca because I didn't want her to add anything to it, and I asked for one that wasn't too was yummy :)

Crazy, wonderful hot springs!

We found a hotel with cozy rooms, but we were all so tired I'm not so sure the rooms would have mattered much to any of us. The place we went for dinner didn't have tortillas or tajadas (we're not in H-town anymore!), but we all managed to eat ourselves full. And sleep like babies. Sunday morning we got together for breakfast, and I love the way I'm learning most meals in Central America, even at a hotel restaurant, have the feeling of something home-cooked in the kitchen of someone familiar. Plates come out in spurts as each is prepared individually with manos cuidadosas, but the coffee runs a plenty and conversation generally flows with ease. It was such a blessing of a viaje, and I think it was God's way of reminding us that He's always here for us; just look to nature to be restored.
a view that changes you

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