Monday, January 16, 2017

Guatemala Day 4 - On Our Way to Tikal (The Amazing Race Style) - Aug. 2

Bright and early on Tuesday morning (6am). Cee Ryle had been sick the night before with a fever. He obviously still was not doing great this morning. This day we had to drive back to Guatemala City to catch our flight to Tikal.

Good bye Rio Dulce!

The loading of the van with all of our luggage was always a task!

After driving for a couple of hours we found this restaurant on the side of the road. We had to go check first to see how long it would take to feed us all because we didn't have much time to waste.

Just enjoying time together while waiting for our food.

Licuados are popular in Guatemala and with us! They are made with pretty much any fruit that you want and then with milk or water. They are delicious!
Desayuno Chapin

Zildy enjoyed this mosquito bite zapper a little too much!

While we paid and went to the restroom the kids just waited and waited. They would say we were dawdling but we had to take care of business!
We got back on the road and we were getting close to the city when the traffic stopped and it looked like this!

When the traffic like this stops there are always vendors that swarm to the cars to sell stuff. This is exactly what happened here. We ended up buying this yummy but weird looking fruit. I don't remember the name but it was good!!!

 The reason for the holdup was that there was a protest going on. So the road was blocked by the protesters. No cars could get through at all. We waited for a while hoping that they would let us through. Jonas even went up to talk to the people and they told them this could go on all day. We weren't very far from the airport but this protest did not seem to be letting up anytime soon and the time for us to be at the airport was getting close. We had to come up with a plan but what plan? Hector our travel agent for our Tikal trip called me to see how we were doing and I told him what was going on, He told me he would try and get some information for us and help us figure out a way through to the airport (tender mercy #1). We were going to do this Tikal trip on our own but decided to go with a travel agent just for this leg of the trip to releve some of the planning. This was the beginning of our Amazing Race filled with many tender mercies!
The pilots looking back trying to come up with a plan

Here are the passengers trying to stretch and enjoy our time while we waited. The only thing we could do at this point was say a prayer that we would be able to figure something out and that we would be safe.

Might as well eat some mangos with lime while we wait right? 
The only solution we could come up with was to walk past the protest and from there take a taxi or a bus to the airport. Not a great solution but the only solution besides loosing all of our money that we had already paid for our flight and tour of Tikal. 
Luckily (tender mercy #2) our backpacks were already packed for the trip cause that was all that we would be able to take with us. My parents were not going with us to Tikal which was another tender mercy #3 because otherwise what would we do with the van. My dad didn't really want to drive it but we had no other choice.
We began our hike up the road. We were about 1 kilometer from the protest and this is what it looked like. They let us through no problem but we were a little worried for our safety so we just stuck together.

While walking Derick realized that he did not have his or Brianna's passports. They couldn't get on the flight without them so he was going to have to go back to get them. Casey volunteered being the fastest runner and all to run back to the car and get them. We decided to just wait for him instead of continuing up the road to make sure that we were all safe. As we walked someone told us that they did not recommend for us to continue walking up the road and if we did to be really careful. We got a lot of funny looks along the way, after all we were 12 "American looking" people but we were safe (tender mercy #4)
 As we were walking Hector (tour guide) called me and said that there was no way for a taxi to come pick us up because they would not let him through. We would have to find a way to get to him. We were still a few miles away and very short on time!!! Really??? What else could go wrong? As soon as I got off the phone and told everyone what Hector had said we saw a shop on the side of the road with some guys sitting out just watching what was going on. They happened to have a pick up truck just sitting there. My brother Derick and his friendly personality went up to them and asked them if they could do us a favor and drive us a few miles to where the taxi was. Without hesitation this kind man said sure no problem (tender mercy #5). Derick and I sat in the front and the rest of our group piled on the back of the truck. Riding on the back of trucks was becoming normal for us! While we sat in the front we had a nice conversation about the protests, etc. We noticed he had a bible in his car so we talked a little about how he was an angel placed in our way to help us out. He told us he was a Christian and that this is what life is all about, to help each other along the way. I was of course very emotional by now because I knew that even though we had had many set backs we were being blessed all along our way!
We thanked our friend and gave him a good tip for his troubles. Which he was grateful for because they hadn't had much business all day since the road was blocked. Tender mercy for both. 

We made it to our taxi or more like a mini-bus! All sweaty, tired, and stressed but safe! 
 He got us to the airport with only a few minutes to spare. Ahhh finally everyone have your passports and tickets ready! Well... we were not done with the stress yet... the driver dropped us off at the wrong airport terminal. By the time we figured this out our driver was gone. We said we'll just walk to the other terminal. Oh no not possible it was really far and it did not connect at all! Is this a bad dream or what??? Jonas went to talk to another bus driver that was just sitting there to see if he could take us. He first said no and then he said he would but it would cost us Q600. At this point we had already paid the kind man who gave us a ride Q100, the taxi/bus driver Q1000 and now this? But if we didn't pay we would miss our flight! The driver must have felt bad for us or something (tender mercy #6) but he said he would take us for Q300. We were running out of cash and we had been told that in Tikal you had to pay for things in cash.

Another short drive but we were finally at the correct airport terminal. They said we barely made it cause they were about to close the doors (tender mercy #7).

A few minutes with WIFI everyone connect!

That was our small plane that we were going on. No time to take Dramamine so good luck everyone!

This is the Island of Flores as seen from the plane.

We made it everyone! After that long day we made it! Before leaving we told the five cousins that they needed to research one of the major areas that we would be traveling to. They had this awesome map at the airport and they are standing in there respective areas. 
The areas they each had were:
Shayden: Rio Dulce
Cedric: Tikal
Brianna: Chichicastenango
Cee Ryle: Atitlan
Kalina: Antigua 

We were finally in Flores ready to go to our hotel in Tikal. Dinner was included in our package and we hadn't really eaten much since breakfast so we were looking forward to relaxing and getting up early for our Sunrise Tour of Tikal in the morning. As soon as we walked out of the airport someone from the hotel was to meet us there to take us to our hotel. They did meet us there but they had bad news for us... 😨 There was a protest going on in Tikal and we could not get into our hotel since it was inside the park. They were hoping that it would be open in the morning but the sunrise tour was not going to be possible!!! 😪😢😢😢😢😢 They told us they would take us to a restaurant so we could eat while they figured out what was going on. Hector was trying to tell me this during the craziness of trying to get to the airport but getting us to the airport was more important so we pushed this aside. They got a call and they decided to take us to another hotel and they would feed us dinner there. 

Beautiful view of Flores.
It was about a 30 minute ride to our hotel. When we got there they told us that there wasn't enough rooms together so they split us up into two hotels. They were across the street from each other. Casey and I and Cee Ryle (because he was still a little sick) stayed in one room. Then the boys and Julio stayed in the other in the same hotel. Then in the other hotel were the girls in one room and Zildy and Jonas and Derick in another. For our room we had to climb up lots of stairs through the jungle (at least it seemed like that, we couldn't tell cause it was dark).

We dropped off our stuff and then went to the restaurant which was in the hotel where the others were staying at. We look kind of exhausted in this picture after our long, eventful day! We were grateful to have this meal all arranged for us cause there wasn't much of anything else in this little town (tender mercy #8).

It was raining so hard! But a little rain could not change the unforgettable memories that we were creating (tender mercy #9). Shayden couldn't stay inside he had to go dance in the rain!

This is what you call pouring!!!
 As I reflect on this day... WOW!!! We did have many setbacks! The kids would say that it all started because we were dawdling at breakfast! I would like to focus on that even though the day did not go as planned and we had to adjust our path at every corner, we had a memorable day with everyone. We had tender mercies all along our way and we were safe! We had a place to eat and sleep and tomorrow would be a new day (tender mercy #10). This is just like life, it may not go as planned but we have miracles that happen all along the way and eventually we make it to our destination!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Guatemala - Day 3 - Rio Dulce/Finca Paraiso Aug 1

When we got to Denny's Beach we really couldn't see much cause it was so late and dark. But when we woke up the next morning this is what we saw from our windows!
My cute mom

Kailee having a liquado for breakfast

So pretty and peaceful! How had we not been here before?

I don't even know what's going on here?
We had a tour this morning to Finca Paraiso. We had to take a 45 minute boat ride across the river to get there. And here we are all piled in on the boat.
We were dropped off on the beach and they told us the truck guy that would take us to the waterfalls was busy doing something else but we could walk. He said it was just down the road. We were like... OK I guess we are walking. 
It was about a 2 mile walk in the heat but it was nice to see the area.

As we were walking we saw these three boys walking also. So we started talking to them and getting to know them a little. 

They even showed us how they can climb the trees.

They said they had been fishing for their lunch. This boy had the fish hanging on his back. The boy's name was Rambo he told us.
We were grateful to have a fun conversation as we walked. They said they sometimes go to school but not always. They asked us if we were thirsty that they could bring some coconut water for us to drink.

When we said yes we were swarmed by kids wanting us to buy coconut water from them. This little girl was cutting them open for us. they were selling them for only one quetzal.  

It seems like they wait for people to come by to try and sell them some.
A picture of the families that live there doing their laundry on the river.

Rambo told us this was his house! Hmm puts things in perspective doesn't it? These boys have to catch their own lunch, maybe they go to school maybe not, they sell what they can to make money, and this is where they live. But they were so happy? 
After our nice little walk we finally made it to the waterfalls :)

Isn't it beautiful? And the water was warm and clear.

We just sat and relaxed except for those that decided to jump off from above...

There was a guy (I think like a self-appointed life guard) that was standing at the top of this rock. He said that jumping from up there was a lot safer than the other place where the kids were jumping from. So a few of the guys and girls went up there and they jumped! Up there there was also this mud stuff that he said was very good for your skin. He was really helpful and had a wealth of information. We, of course, had to give him a tip for his time and info. 
I didn't go up there but Casey brought me some of this stuff to put on my face! 

On the way back we were lucky to find someone (for hire) that would take us back to the beach to get back on the boat. This was the back of the truck. I was in the front with my parents because I was still having some knee issues.
The boat ride back.

We spent the afternoon just hanging out at Denny's Beach

Zildy zapping her mosquito bites.

Derick gave us flowers. So pretty!

The lodge, the restaurant, the concierge, etc.

They even had some cute canoes that we could use.
The adults decided to go an a little hike around the island.

At night we just kind of sat around on the hammocks.
Bonfire at the end of a fun day!