Enjoying The Journey

Life is a journey, not a destination. I know I am not the first nor will I be the last person to tell you that.

Even more obviously perhaps, traveling is about the actual traveling as much as it is about the places you are headed.

However, there are days in life and in travel where enjoying the journey is harder than others. This has been one of those.

Instead of sleeping much, I spent last night relieving my stomach of its contents. This morning, I politely ate as much of the breakfast prepared by our gracious hosts as I could, while explaining in my mediocre Spanish that I was feeling just a little ill and not all that hungry. After breakfast, there was a 3 hour bus ride through the winding Guatamalan countryside, another incredibly gracious family who picked us up, showed us around a new town and took us home for lunch and then dropped us off for our half hour boat ride in this lovely craft.

enjoying the journey

At the boat terminal, I was trying to be as prepared as possible, practicing Spanish phrases that might be needed, like “Disculpe, por favor puedo tener esto asiento. Possible necessito vomitar.” And on board, I was sure I could feel my brain rattle against my skull and the hull bend under my feet.

And it was hot like I’ve never experienced. Possibly when your Guatemalan hosts are worried that your upcoming hotel doesn’t have air conditioning you should pay attention instead of arrogantly thinking, “we’ve been fine without air conditioning so far and its been hot.” Nope, nothing like this. We are apparently in the hottest part of Guatemala at the hottest time of year. Who knew.

Anyway, you get the idea, it wasn’t the easiest travelling day, but part of the journey none-the-less.

Enjoying The Journey

Through my haze of discomfort, here’s what I was lucky enough to experience anyway:

  • I saw an amazing slice of green Guatemala with its gorgeous mountains (from an air conditioned bus!)
  • enjoying the journey
  • I witnessed a tree being removed from the highway using only machetes. On our bus ride, we came to an unexpected stop. As we finally crept past the bottleneck, what we saw was 10 or 15 Guatemalans, machetes in hand, hacking away at a tree that couldn’t handle the first rain of the season last night and found itself lying in the road.

    If you need something done here, like the removal of a large tree from the road, you can’t wait around for someone else to come along and do it. I am certain these 10-15 gentleman were just the first ones on the scene. Pretty much every man in Guatemala has a machete, all the time. It’s a pretty essential tool for life in rural Central America but takes an adjustment to get used to for the average American.

  • I felt the overwhelming graciousness of Guatemalans in general and Rotarians in particular. Nearly everyone you pass on the street greets you. We were hosted and treated as friends by people we had never met based solely on a few emails or phone calls from a mutual friend. We weren’t just welcomed, housed and fed, these new friends went out of their way to share their country and community with us, connect us with others in our upcoming destinations and make sure we got where we needed to go.
  • I saw a stretch of beautiful Guatemalan coast from the ocean while zipping along in a little boat, and atleast for a few minutes I wasn’t quite as unbearably hot.

And now I’m here:

enjoying the journey

Challenging day for sure, but so much to be thankful for and so many good experiences had, despite the challenges.

Footnote: Tomorrow, we’ll be moving to a hotel with air conditioning. A hotel recommended by our last hosts, who were so concerned that we didn’t plan to have air conditioning that they made 3 phone calls and a short list of hotel recommendations within 15 minutes of meeting us. Yet another cause to be thankful 🙂

Enjoying the journey everyday I can!