It has been 18 months since we last saw our compadres in Guatemala. We have visited at least once a year since 2007, so this span was way too long for our liking. But it was with good reason: at the end of June, Paulina gave birth to their seventh child (and second boy), Ian Ivan. When baby Ian was only a month old, he became seriously ill and was hospitalized for 40 days in Guatemala City. He and Paulina stayed at the hospital, three hours' drive away from the rest of the family. Humberto and the older girls held down the fort at home, preparing meals and cleaning and preparing the guest rooms that they rent out.

Obviously this was not a good time to visit, so we postponed our trip to coincide with the 3rd eldest daughter Yasmin's quinceanera (15th birthday party - the Latina equivalent of a Sweet 16). Ian is back at home where he belongs, and his health is getting better day by day. We missed the kids terribly, and desperately wanted to meet the newest addition to the family.

Because I am now able to easily work remotely over the internet, we decided to stay longer than usual. We would stay 10 days!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

We woke up at 2 a.m., and Craig's mother graciously drove us to the airport. A ten day trip is long enough that you don't want to have to pay for parking at the airport. Our flight to Miami left on schedule at 5 a.m. That flight was uneventful, but as usual, Miami had unpleasant surprises in store for us. Our connecting plane had been diverted to Fort Lauderdale due to weather. We would be delayed until they found a replacement plane. We were able to Skype Humberto to tell him about the delay, since someone was picking us up at the airport in Guatemala City. 3 boarding gates and 2 hours later, we finally were on our way to Guatemala!

As we approached the Guatemala City, we had some fantastic views of the Yucatan beaches and coastline before heading west. We were seated in the very back of the plane, so we were literally the last people on our plane to get into the infinite immigration line. We had never seen the airport this clogged. We felt like we were in line forever. When we got to the baggage collection area, most bags had already been claimed. Craig found my bag right away, but his was nowhere to be seen. Oh no, had they lost his bag? I tried talking to a few employees and nobody seemed particularly concerned, except for a handful of other passengers experiencing the same situation. There was yet another queue to wait in to speak to the baggage desk, and we were at the end...again.

We saw a woman look in a little area behind the desk, and she found her missing bag there. We walked over to look - and there was Craig's bag! Why was it back there? Would anyone mind if we just grabbed it? Nobody did, so we went through customs and then were finally free of the airport!

Humberto wanted to pick us up at the airport, but he had some clients to guide today. So he hired a driver named Jonathan to pick us up in Humberto's van. It was the first time we had seen the van, which he had acquired soon after our last visit. It was a brand new comfortable and clean Toyota HiAce.

We drove to Laka Atitlan, hitting some traffic jams while leaving the city. This was Sunday afternoon of New Year's weekend, and everyone was returning from holidays. We were hungry, and when Jonathan made a rest stop, we purchased some plantain chips and tea cookies.

We finally arrived at the family's house in Panajachel at around 5:30 p.m. It had been a very long day, but the sight of the kids perked us up immediately. All of the kids were home tonight waiting for us: 19 year old Vanesa, 17 year old Paola, 15 year old Yasmin, 13 year old Yoselin, our 10 year old goddaughter Aracely, our 7 year old godson Eddy, and 6 month old Ian Ivan.

The kids had all grown so tall! Aracely, in 5th grade, has excellent English skills. Eddy, in 1st grade, was very shy about voicing any English words the last time we visited. But now he had clearly matured quite a bit and his confidence was growing. He would speak more and more English with us over the course of the visit. Vanesa, Paola, Yasmin, and Yoselin are beautiful and sweet young ladies. It is amazing how much everyone has changed since we first met them.

And then there is precious baby Ian. At first I thought he resembled Paulina's sisters' children more than his siblings, but soon we could see a lot of Eddy in him. He's an adorable baby, kind of chunky (a very good sign given how ill he has been). He is very cheerful and laid back. For a 6 month old, he has amazing body control and strength. You don't need to provide much support to stand him up, and he definitely knows the motions required to put one foot in front of the other to walk. He seemed a little scared of Craig at first (babies usually fear the moustache), but he would quickly become comfortable.

The family has been constructing a building with eight guest rooms since we have known them. The first floor rooms were completed first. We stayed in the first one back in 2007. Little by little, more rooms were completed. As the kids got bigger, the four eldest girls moved into two of the rooms. In 2014, the first room on the second floor was complete. We have vivid memories of sleeping there during an early morning earthquake. Two of the upstairs rooms had still been under construction then, but now they were completely finished.

The family now has the ability to rent out six rooms, each with private bath and hot water, under the auspices of Hotel Lago Aventuras. Humberto has hired a full-time office manager named Luis. Vanesa, who has studied tourism, also helps out in the office regularly. The rest of the family pitches in with cleaning the rooms, washing linens, etc.

They got us settled into a first floor room (they are mindful of Craig's MS, and didn't want him to have to climb stairs), and then gave us a little tour of the upgrades they have done to the property. They had painted Hotel Lago Aventuras on the side of the guest building. The courtyard had a fresh coat of paint and the lawn and plants were lush and green. Several lighted Christmas trees decorated the courtyard and the hallways of the guest building.

We are really so proud of all of the hard work the family has put in to make their business ventures so successful. Owning a van makes the logistics of Humberto's guided tours easier, and he also provides airport transfers. The rooms are neat and clean, decorated with local handicrafts, and the guest building is all decorated for Christmas. The family members all pull together to support the family business and we couldn't be happier for them! They are so professional and have great hospitality skills.

We sat with Paulina and the kids eating fresh mandarins from their tree, while I held the baby. He did well for a while but soon wanted someone more familiar to hold him. The kids' cousins Andrik, Josue, and Neli came by. They also had grown a lot in the intervening 18 months. The kids enjoyed using the camera. Neli was the director of the photo shoot, making sure to capture every possible combination of people, and instructing us on how to pose.

Humberto returned home and surprised us with pizza for dinner. The kids were very excited. The pizza came with small plastic baggies of ketchup and pickle juice, which were added to the pizza as condiments.

As much as we enjoyed chatting, we were exhausted after a long day of travel. And Eddy and Aracely had school tomorrow. So we said our goodnights at 10 o'clock.
Aracely and Ian

Aracely and Ian

Craig and Aracely

Craig and Aracely

Steph and Ian

Steph and Ian

Yasmin, Craig, Yoselin, Aracely, Steph, and Eddy

Yasmin, Craig, Yoselin, Aracely, Steph, and Eddy

Paulina, Craig, Aracely,  Steph, Neli, Yoselin, and Ian

Paulina, Craig, Aracely, Steph, Neli, Yoselin, and Ian

See more pictures from this day

Previous Day Trip Overview

Back to Craig and Steph's Vacations
Next day

Read our guest book   Guest book Sign our guest book
Please send any questions or comments to
All photographs and text copyright 1996-Present except where noted.