Guatemala 6/28/2018 - 7/8/2018

Friday, 7/6/2018 - Cristian's 24th Birthday

Today I woke up early to work. Craig joined me whene he woke up. Craig was very tired after yesterday's long day of activities. The red splotches on his skin, which we had originally attributed to the sulfur water from the hot springs, had multiplied. Now, in addition to the initial ones on his arm, there were splotches on his back, stomach, and legs. He felt very weak and achy.

Paulina brought us each a cup of coffee. Ian Ivan insisted on adding Craig's sugar and stirring it for him. When Tyson awoke, we had breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit, juice, and coffee.

Today is Paola's boyfriend Cristian's 24th birthday. We had been conspiring with Paola all week about a surprise party. She had bought some decorations and had stashed them in our room. While shee was at work today, her sisters hung up decorations.

Tyson and I walked down to the lake and then searched up and down Calle Santander for the shop where Tyson had seen a carved wooden dog bank on Sunday. Craig decided to stay home; it was a hot sunny day, and he wanted to save his energy for the birthday party tonight.

Tyson and I had some great views of the lake and surrounding volcanoes; the visibility was much better than it usually is at midday. We scoured every shop on Calle Santander, but we could not find the shop with the carved wooden dog bank.

Tyson was feeling peckish, and he decided to buy some empanadas. He ordered and paid for them himself, and felt quite accomplished and self-sufficient.

A vendor selling a whistle that made an annoying Woody Woodpecker noise seemed to be stalking us. We were trying to get away from the horrible noise, but if we walked, he walked. If we stopped, he stopped. We eventually gave him the slip.

We went back to the house, defeated in our search for the dog bank. For lunch we had beef and peppers in gravy, mashed potatoes, and mixed vegetables, with chia lemonade to drink. As we were eating lunch, it grew dark outside and started to downpour. The poor cardboard Happy Birthday banner, which we had carefully strung between a tree and the side of the house, grew so soggy that it ripped in two.

Ian Ivan was watching some weird Youtube videos of cosplay Spider Man pranking Spider Girl by dropping plastic balls on her while she slept. It was rather creepy.

We had told Paola that we would buy pizzas for the party, so we worked with Paulina and Vanesa to order the pizzas for a 7 p.m. delivery.

Tyson gave me money to buy Cristian's cake, and Paulina and I walked to the Zanahoria bakery to purchase it. It was still raining, and we dodged puddles as we walked. Tyson walked with us for a while and then went down Calle Santander looking again for the carved wooden dog. Eventually the store would re-open, and Tyson was determined to keep trying until he was successful.

Paulina and I stopped in to a stationery store to buy a replacement Happy Birthday banner and some candles for the cake.

When we got to the bakery, we looked into a refrigerated glass case that contained a variety of cakes. We chose a capuccino tres leches cake. The woman at the bakery wrote "Feliz cumpleaños Cristian" in thin red piping, but it was hard to read because the cake already had a starburst design piped in brown frosting.

As it was still raining and we had a cake in tow, we took a tuk-tuk back to the house. Tyson hadn't had any luck finding the wooden dog, but he did find a mojito vendor near the lake and enjoyed a little cocktail.

The kids put up the new birthday banner in a position where it wasn't quite so vulnerable to the torrential rain. The pizza delivery guy arrived with 5 large pizzas and 5 bottles of Coke, all protected from the rain by a garbage bag.

Everyone gathered in the dining room waiting for Paola and Cristian to arrive. The outside light wasn't on, in order to obscure the decorations and enable the surprise factor. Ian Ivan was napping, clutching the little wooden garbage truck we had given him.

We heard a noise outside and went out to find that Cristian and Paola had arrived. Cristian was overwhelmed by the surprise. Once again, the infinite playlist of Spanish happy birthday songs was played. Everyone sat down and the pizzas were served. Here they do it Chapin (Guatemalan) style...the pizza is delivered with little baggies of mayonnaise, ketchup, and picante sauce, and everyone puts the condiments onto their slice of pizza. Tyson didn't try this bit of local flavor and preferred his pizza straight up.

Ian Ivan continued to sleep, totally missing out on the pizza. Cristian's mother Juana and sister Leydi arrived. It was very nice to meet them, and they seemed to have a great time. Juana's smile lit up the party. It was nice to see the two families mingling. Cristian and Paola have been dating for around two years, and they truly make a lovely couple.

Speaking of lovely couples, Vanesa's boyfriend Dany arrived. Soon Ian Ivan woke up and joined the festivities. Paola had bought some fun accessories, including photo props, horns, and silly glasses. People posed with the props and also made hats out of balloons.

Paola lit the candles on the cake and set it in front of Cristian. They tossed confetti on him. As they sang to him, he tried to distract them so that he could pre-empt the inevitable face-smashing ritual by dipping his own chin into the frosting ever so slightly. The girls (Yoselin, especially) were quick to wag their fingers at him. This would not do. As punishment for this transgression, he probably was given a bit more of a face-smash than they would have normally given him. He came up with quite a frosting beard!

The capuccino tres leches cake was quite moist and delicious. Tyson brought out two jars af "turkey joints." These are bone-shaped iridescent sugar candies filled with chocolate and brazil nuts; a regional specialty from Tyson's area of upstate New York. People were a bit skeptical at first. Between the name (is there poultry in this?) and the unusual appearance, they hesitated. But once someone tried one, the word spread quickly, and soon everyone was digging in. The ribbon-candy-like outer coating melts in your mouth, or you could bite into it and shatter it into little shards. The filling is very rich. Soon both jars were empty.

Cristian opened his gifts. Vanesa and Dany had given him a joke gift thay almost made Tyson and me choke on our turkey was a plastic money bank...shaped like a dog. Dog banks must be a thing around here!

Despite the fact that Craig had been feeling lousy today, he rallied and was able to fully participate in the festivities. We all had a lot of fun and many laughs.

Cristian's Birthday Party

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Paola and Cristian arrive for Cristian's surprise party

Paola and Cristian arrive for Cristian's surprise party

Craig, Cristian, Humberto, Paola, Yasmin, Yoselin, Eddy, Aracely, Paulna, Vanesa, Tyson

Craig, Cristian, Humberto, Paola, Yasmin, Yoselin, Eddy, Aracely, Paulna, Vanesa, Tyson

Birthday boy Cristian

Birthday boy Cristian

Cristian with his mom Juana and sister Leydi

Cristian with his mom Juana and sister Leydi

See all photos 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.