Well, as expected, I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Guatemala… And I’ve only been here about 20 hours! ☺
All I can say about the flight is “God is good.” Everything went so smoothly, although we did get a little bit of a late start do to fog in Atlanta. Once on board, it was obvious that we were headed to Guatemala (I was probably one of five Gringos on the entire plane- including the flight attendants!). It was a great feeling- or one I knew I’d have to get used to anyway. The man who sat beside me (probably in his late twenties) was awesome! He had just spent a few months living in Louisiana and was coming home for the holidays (he is from one of those crazily named cities in Guatemala –Chiqualtenango or something like that). His English was on the same level as my Spanish, but he helped me out a lot. We had a great conversation and he made me practice things like my numbers, days of the week, everyday greetings, clothing items, etc. It was a huge blessing, because after befriending one another on the plane, he helped me get through customs, find my bags, and make my way to the lobby. Without him, I would have been completely lost. Yet another blessing from the Father.
Random side-note: I wasn’t in Guatemala 10 minutes before making a cultural error. I, Kathryn Ann Holt, accidentally walked into the men’s bathroom at the airport. The sign on the outside had both a man AND a woman on it, so naturally I thought it was a one stall unisex restroom. Oh, how wrong I was. To say the least, I was mortified (and so were the men using the urinals). I ran out and a custodial kindly pointed me in the direction of the WOMEN’S restroom… A mistake I hope to never make again…
Anyway, when I arrived in the lobby, it was practically empty. I couldn’t understand why people had made such a fuss about how crazy the airport was… And then I walked outside. There was a barricade type thing holding hundreds of people back, all yelling, holding signs, and trying to get my attention. By the grace of God, I saw Mike and Karen waving me down amongst the crowd (thanks to that awesome cowboy hat Mike wears). I proceeded to make my way through the crowd while Mike and Karen motioned me to the van. Once in the van, greetings were spoken and I learned yet another valuable lesson about Guatemala.
Valuable Lesson: In Guatemala, pedestrians DO NOT, I repeat, DO NOT have the right of way! If you don’t watch where you’re going and move out of the way, YOU WILL GET HIT!
Leaving the airport was atrocious. The traffic was nothing like I’d ever seen, and drivers are INSANE! They fly by, weaving in and out of traffic (barely missing your car by what seems like only centimeters), they are constantly honking at something, and the idea of being kind and letting someone cut in front of you is a concept that has yet to reach Guatemala City. And I thought Miami traffic was bad… Oh well.
We had to make a couple of stops before heading to the ranch. First we went to the social worker’s office. Karen went in and dealt with some things while Mike and Michael (their almost-four-year-old son) and I visited in the car. Then I had the pleasure of experiencing Guatemala’s Wal-Mart equivalent. It was huge and full of shoppers, and while I’m normally not a huge fan of crowds, I rather enjoyed scoping out the people and the items in the store. SO many of their things are the same brands as back home (like the Lays Barbeque Potato Chips that Mike apparently loves). It was neat.
From there, it was time to eat. Knowing me and my stomach, I was a little nervous about how my first Guatemalan meal would go, but guess what we had. Pizza Hut! Yep, that’s right, sausage and pepperoni pizza and a 7Up to drink. Although I didn’t eat much (I was still a bit too nervous to eat), it was a good meal. From there, we were on the road again.
Another Helpful Hint: Guatemalans DO NOT care about speed limits.
Guatemala is soooooo beautiful. From what I’ve seen so far, it is all mountains (which I love)! While the roads are in much better shape than I expected, they are all curvy swervey. I knew I needed to sit up and face the front the entire time as to not get a little sick to my stomach, but that was fine with me. It gave me an opportunity to look out the windows at this beautiful country.
Honestly, I had no idea what to expect in regard to housing, businesses, etc. I don’t exactly know how to describe the buildings here, other than that they are like buildings in the US that you wouldn’t give a second glance at because you know that they’ve been abandoned for many years… Except in Guatemala, they are not abandoned at all. They have many people living in them, and you could often see a television playing through the open windows. Also something that I found neat (and reminded me of something that Momma and Poppa probably saw a lot of in Africa) was all the people walking along the “highway” with baskets and things on their heads. It’s strange to think of having to walk to and from the store rather than drive… But not to say that I wouldn’t be all about it. I’m looking forward to my first walk to la tienda. ☺ Anyway, it was interesting to see these people out and about so late in the evening, after the sun had gone down. Different cultures fascinate me…
Don’t worry Momma, while Mike did drive extremely fast, not once did I question his ability. For the most part, I felt comfortable in the van- which is saying a lot for someone who, since my wreck in last January, has become extremely paranoid about riding with anyone new. Despite many crazy drivers accompanying us on our journey and a few traffic jams, God placed His angels around us and gave us a safe journey to the ranch.
I’ll pick up where I left off and tell you all about the Ranch and my first night here later. It’s time for lunch! I love you all, miss you all (but in no way am I home-sick), and appreciate all your prayers. God has definitely made His presence known to me on this journey to the unknown…