Guatemala and Ecuador 6/30/16 - 7/20/16


The last time we visited Guatemala, our goddaughter Aracely expressed an interest in traveling with us. Traveling is so important in our lives that we wanted to give her and her siblings the opportunity to see some more of the world, learn about other cultures, and most importantly, make new friends.

We thought that it would be perfect to take them on a trip to Ecuador, to visit our compadres there, for several reasons: no tourist visa is required, and the flights are not prohibitively long, given that the kids have never flown before. Both countries speak Spanish. And, most importantly, they would be able to meet our other godchildren and their family. Both families are indigenous (Mayan and Kichwa), and could learn about one another's culture.

There are seven kids in Guatemala, and obviously we couldn't take them all at once. Aracely and Eddy are our godchildren, so they are the obvious first candidates. However, we didn't think that Eddy was old enough to appreciate the trip yet.

We decided that the first batch of travelers would be Aracely and her two eldest sisters: Vanesa and Paola. We planned the trip for July, when Aracely would be on summer vacation from school. Vanesa had already graduated, so that timing worked for her. Unfortunately, Paola ended up not able to come at this time because she was finishing up high school and had a nursing practicum scheduled. But we are so proud of her and we promise that we will take her as soon as her schedule permits.

Leading up to the trip, Humberto and Paulina took Aracely and Vanesa to Guatemala City to get their passports. How exciting! Craig and I coordinated everything so that we would spend time in Guatemala, travel with the girls to Ecuador, return to Guatemala for a few days, and then return home.

Thursday 6/30/2016 - Arrival in Guatemala

We woke up bright and early at 3 a.m. Craig's mom was nice enough to drive us to the airport at 4 o'clock. We used the Skycap for our 2 checked bags. We got breakfast: yogurt and granola for Craig, a donut for me, and muffins for both of us. The flight took off on time at 6:40 a.m..

We landed in Miami at 10:10. We were scheduled to take off again at 11:14, so we didn't have time to get any food at the airport before boarding our connection. Once boarded, we were delayed by 30 minutes due to some rain showers and the fact that they had to remove a bag from the baggage hold. Of course, they no longer provide food on these flights, even though they are international. Our flight was 8th in line to land in Guatemala, and we landed at around 12:10 p.m. We breezed right through immigration, but had to wait a while for our checked bags. It took an hour all told.

Humberto, Paulina, Aracely, Eddy, Vanesa, and baby Ian picked us up at the airport in their van. Ian just celebrated his first birthday last week, and he has changed so much within the last six months. He can stand on his own and take a step or two without help. He is a very content baby and very social. They haven't yet cut his hair, and his long black locks are just precious.

Humberto drove us to the Ecuadorian embassy, as he had been told that there was some paperwork we needed to fill out prior to traveling with Aracely, who is a minor. Unfortunately, he had forgotten that today was a bank holiday (anniversary of the Guatemalan military), so the embassy was closed. We would have to stop in on Monday morning prior to the flight. That was cutting it a little closer than we generally prefer, but there was nothing we could do, so we just hoped for the best.

Humberto asked us if we had eaten lunch yet. We said that we had not; the last thing we had eaten was yogurt and a donut at the Boston airport. Aracely's eyes grew wide. "They have donuts at the airport? And we can get one when we go to Ecuador?" I tried to explain that not all airports have the same food available, so we couldn't guarantee it...but the damage had been done. Aracely had made a permanent association between airports and donuts. We sure hoped that she wouldn't be disappointed!

We stopped at Eskala mall (our first time at a Guatemalan mall) in Guatemala City for lunch. The kids enjoy riding the escalator ("electronic stairs", as they call it), and there was a very cute play area where they could run around and blow off some energy before the long ride back to Panajachel.

We ate in the food court. The grown-ups had Chinese food from Lai Lai (huge portions of chow mein with shrimp and pork), and the kids got kids' meals from Pollo Campero. A crowd had gathered to watch football on the food court television, and we witnessed Portugal's victory over Poland. The crowd approved.

We left the mall at 4 p.m. to drive to Panajachel. We hit a lot of traffic in Chimaltenango on the way home. Eddy and Aracely napped, but baby Ian kept us entertained. He doesn't speak yet, but he vocalized with "AAAAH!" when he wanted my attention. It became a little game...he would drop an empty water bottle on the floor and then say "AAAAH!" when he wanted me to pick it up for him. Also, any time I tried to close my eyes to nap (we had been up since 3 a.m.) he would say "AAAAH!" until I opened my eyes to look at him and then he would get a big toothy grin.

It took 4 hours to get to Panajachel, and we arrived at around 8 p.m. The other girls (Paola, Yasmin, and Yoselin) were here to greet us. It was so good to be back again!

We got settled into our first floor guest room and took a look around the property. Even though we had just been here 6 months ago, they had made some upgrades in the interim. They have replaced the corrugated metal roof above the patio with translucent corrugated fiberglass, and have repainted the exterior and interior of the main house an eggshell color. They also now have a stove with an oven! The girls are excited that they are now able to bake.

The room next to ours (affectionately known as "Mukul's room"), is a temporary office. Humberto's Lago Aventura tour office, with street frontage at the beginning of the alley, is currently undergoing renovations. They are adding a small powder room among other improvements. So the office equipment is temporarily in one of the guest rooms. With the two pairs of older girls in the other two downstairs rooms, that leaves the four upstairs rooms for guest rentals.

The girls have all grown so much! Yoselin especially has grown quite tall! Paola now has a pet rabbit named Boni, who is quite friendly and adorable.

We sat outside and enjoyed some tea. Baby Ian ran around in his walker. He is quite fast! Aracely and Eddy played with paper dolls they had received in their Pollo Campero kids' meals.

We were enjoying catching up with everyone, but eventually we couldn't keep our eyes open. It had been such a long day of traveling!

By 9:30 p.m. local time, after having been awake for over 20 hours, we were so exhausted that we said our goodnights and went to sleep.


Vanesa and Ian

Vanesa and Ian

Steph and Yoselin

Steph and Yoselin

Eddy and Boni

Eddy and Boni

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