BootsnAll Travel Network

Archive for January, 2006

« Home

A Whirlwind of Thoughts and Feelings

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

Sunday, January 29th. I am now into my fifth day of living in Xela, Guatemala. It is a bit had to grasp that just last week I was with my friends enjoying the Seahawks punch their ticket into the Superbowl with a convincing win over Carolina. Such timing to take off! I’ll be missing the Superbowl, Wrestlemania, friends’ and family members’ birthdays, basketball league (go Under the Rim!), snowboarding etc etc.

But this is something I need to do and want to do. After seven straight years of doing the work thing, I just need a break. The travel bug that was planted within me over 12 years ago while trying to find work in Ireland has never let go.

I typically keep a hardbound journal with me during my travels, and I am pretty religious about recording my days’ adventures and thoughts. However, blogging is limited to computer and Internet access. Here in Xela, it is not too difficult, so I should be able to update pretty frequently. I could just tell about what I do every day. New words memorized. New friends made. New street vendor food eaten. But I want this blog to be much more. I want to use this as my hardbound journal, as an extension of my real thoughts and feelings.

To keep things from getting boring or old, I’ve decided to break up my blog into various topics, instead of singular days. There is simply too much to describe during my first 5 days here. Sure, I’ve been homesick. And part of that was because I was physically sick and wanted to just be at home with some comfort food, TV and my dose of the Willamette Week, the Mercury and Oregonian. And yeah, I miss my friends and family. But I know that they’ll be there when I return, and we’ll have many stories to share. Knowing that they are excited for my trip helps a lot, and I also know that many of my former work colleagues would love to just quit and do what I’m doing, but life and family obligations are primary obstacles for doing such a thing. I hope I don’t come across as being big-headed, but I feel very lucky to be doing what I’m doing. And meeting my fellow students and worldly travelers, I know that this is just the right thing for me to do. I am not rich and have a very
limited budget, but I hope to stay down here until May, or at least until my Spanish is good enough that I can use the rest of my money to travel to Mexico, Belize, Honduras and maybe Nicaragua and El Salvador.


Here is a preview glimpse of my blog in the upcoming days and weeks…

– “Wildlife” roving packs of stray dogs, bedbugs, chickens and more, oh my!

– Living with no water service for 4 days

– Daily sounds — barking, car alarms, church bells, cat calls, music from the Carpenters

– The story of my shoes


– (Trying to) Live on my $25 per day

– America comes to Guatemala — Mickie Dīs, Taco Bell, the Gap, Payless Shoes….

– Futbol – Experiencing a real soccer game with fans where everything goes


– Learning Spanish 5 hours a day, 5 days a week (with homework, of course)

– Salsa dancing

– New friends and their stories –USA, Denmark, Germany, Belgium, Australia and from all over


– Being SICK

– The scoop on the eating: black beans, corn tortillas, black beans, rice, black beans, eggs, black beans and more black beans


– My host family and my homestay

– And much more

Feel free to post or comments to this blog, or email me directly. Also, if you find my blog even a bit entertaining or a good enough read, feel free to forward it to any of your friends who might also enjoy it. This will be just about my only sense of connection to keeping up with my life back home in Portland. So check back in the next few days for whereever my thought will take me. That’s all for now, folks, and thanks for reading!

Off to Guatemala!

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

And here I begin where I left off, finishing my cross-country road trip and amtraking back to Portland. I was finally able to donate my car, but it was quite a hassle and I’m still not sure if everything is legit and taken care of. However, that’s something else to worry about for a later time, if it ever gets there.

Upon my return to work, I promptly gave my 2-weeks notice and finished my last 2 hectic weeks at work with a flurry of work-things to do. My last day was capped off by a great going away send-off party, with fried chicken, cake, cookies, my famous $.25 Fred Meyer pizza (I actually paid $.69 for it, so those of you who ate it, which I think was only 2 or 3, you better have enjoyed it!), salads, chips, bebidos and more. My boss provided me with a great going-away present: an REI gift certificate, a “Life is Good” headcap, writing pen, bike journal and star chart. My co-workers were also generous in giving me a little travel fund so that I may enjoy a cheap meal or two whilst in Guatemala. So a big thanks to all my co-workers, you made my last day memorable and I do miss the crazy crew, although not so much the stressful work itself.



Quitting my job, I had one week left to square everything away, including doing my taxes, seeing and catching up with friends, watching as many movies as I could, playing my computer video game (very addictive, I only play once or twice a year), suspending my cell phone, authorizing my credit cards for overseas use, and getting all my things together. Unfortunately, I left my packing to the few hours before my flight left, which I regret because there are things that I forgot or simply lost on the way. Alas, it was time for me to hit the road to learn a little espanol.


And so here are my public messages for a few selected friends:

– Dave, I received your message just as I boarded my plane….I was looking for you in representin’ United Airlines to make sure that my flight was comfortable, but I’m guessing that you were doing the Japan flight. And no, I don’t think Oprah was in first class (inside joke)

– Aliscia, thanks very much for the last minute tips and suggestions for making my home in Xela. I did meet up with Olga and look forward to having dinner with Cheeky, Carlos and the rest of the famia at some point in the near future.

– Rae, thanks for the heady tips regarding my trip to Guatemala–sounds like you had the experience of a lifetime, but I forgot to ask if you studied in Antigua or Xela? At any rate, I have avoided being mugged or robbed, knock on wood.

– Lisa, a big thanks for taking care of all my last minute housekeeping stuff, you are a life saver!

– Mike R, are you sure you didn’t find my wallet in your car? You’re not going to keep the money as a way of providing my lift to the airport, are you? But thanks nonetheless for taking me to the airport.

– Mom, no need to call long-distance to the school to make sure everything is a-ok, as I have settled in quite nicely.

– Jeff, I’m thinking that we should probably put that hot tub in when I get back, so party on Garth sans the hot tub!

– Mike J, yes, that was me you saw in the Phoenix Suns video….me and Gina go waaaay back!

– Melody, thanks for the CD’s…I actually forgot to pack a selection of music, so aside from my INXS CD and a CD of lesser songs, yours was a welcome addition….and the Brady Bunch and Reading Rainbow, quite a touch!

– Jack, thanks for the birthday card and I hope you had a great celebration as well! Next year I’ll send that singing telegram like I said!

– Angela, thanks for the Pepto Bismol, I didn’t think it would be necessary but I am eating those like candy ever since yesterday….more to come on this later.

– Marcus, missed out on your gig the day I flew out, but keep hoopin’ at Ballys every Saturday so that we can school Mike and Rene when I get back.

– Monica, thanks for helping me coordinate the future “gifts” for our friends…I’ll be sure to email you a reminder. Also, give out a hello to George for me!

Class is over today but I’ll be going back to school for a ‘graduation’ program for a few of the students, I tried to avoid the gringos but they have more Spanish under their belt so I’ll try to practice my Spanish. Ran into two Oregonians from Eugene, Lee and Gary, they are here for 6 months to travel all around Guatemala. I’ll end here because I have a bad feeling that this entire post will erase! More to come this weekend with additional pics of Xela and my homestay with all the good, the bad, and the ugly.