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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.

The FINAL Entry….Where to from Here?

Friday, December 30th, 2005

Alas, the new year is upon us. I successfully made it all the way to New Jersey, spent Christmas with my brother and his family, and then headed off to New York’s Penn Station to ride the Amtrak to Chicago, and then onto Portland via Amtrak’s Empire Builder.

Before I forget, I have posted the remaining pics at

Unfortunately, I was not able to sell my car. People that were interested in it just flaked out at the last minute. I would have sold it for $300, even less, because now I have a headache trying to donate it. The great, fully functioning 1988 Honda Accord LXi with power sunroof, power windows, power locks, automatic transmission, A/C and CD stereo (even though my seller lost its faceplate), can’t even pass muster with charities like St. Vincent DePaul, the Red Cross, the Cerebral Palsey Foundation of New Jersey and others. There are 3 things going against it. First of all, the charities accept the donation because they will try to sell it at auction and get a portion of those proceeds. But how can you sell something at an auction, or anywhere for that matter, that has no value? 1. My car is 17 years old (soon to be 18 years old tomorrow). Most places I called have a cut off at 15 years. 2. The car has over 250K miles. 3. It has a salvage, reconstructed title. Which means it was in a prior accident. Thus, nobody wants it. Well, I know it can make for good, basic transportation for somebody. But now that I am on the other side of the country, there’s not much I can do now.

Moving on with random stats:

* Total distance traveled: 6,183 miles

* Total gas expenditure: $471.05

* Total oil change and other car expenditures: $55.98

* Total spent: gas, food, souvenirs, admissions, train tickets, 4 nights in a hotel: $1500

* Total including cost of car, tires, registration: $2200

I was gone for a total of 27 days, so I spent an average of $81.50 per day. For my next trip, my goal is to be under $25 per day….

A few things I did on my trip:

* Ran the Vegas Marathon in under 4 hours and 9 minutes and felt GREAT
* Explored Carlsbad Caverns National Park
* Visited historic sites and memorials such as the Alamo, MLK Jr. Memorial, JFK Memorial, Richmond’s Battlefield Park and Kitty Hawk.
* Took in some NBA games: Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trailblazers, Dallas Mavericks vs. Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks vs. Denver Nuggets
* Tried some regional fare: jambalya in New Orleans, famoun beignets at Cafe Du Monde, Cracker Barrel, Waffle House, The Varsity in Atlanta–but didn’t make it to a White Castle or a Krystal.
* Went biking all over town: Tempe, Tucson, Dallas, Austin, Atlanta, & Virginia Beach.
* Got to hang out with some really great, cool and fun peeps! Old friends and new, it was fabulous to catch up and to learn anew.
* Relished the odorless carbon monoxide and the dingy smell of burning oil…these I will definitely not miss!
*Practiced rolling my Rrr’s with my tongue, in preparation of my next adventure. However, 4 weeks and I am a complete failure! I just don’t think my tongue was made to roll the rrr’s!!!
*Rode the Amtrak and met even more great people. Like Sarah and her boyfriend Tim from Minneapolis, MN. Mike, an advertising salesman from Missoula, Montana. 10-year old Wednesday and her mother Malaya, who spent one year abroad teaching English in China. I also watched 4 movies, read 3 books, read one Reader’s Digest, read one magazine, did some journaling and gazed out the window as the scenery skipped on by while listening to my walkman and just getting lost in the moment.

4 weeks is not enough. Not enough to satisfy my wanderlust. There’s still so much to do, so many places to go, new friends to meet. For although I did miss the comforts of home, I know Portland will always be home for me and it will always be here–in the past, in the present, in the future. Who knows when I’ll have another opportunity to see the world. No time like now.

And thus it is almost time for me to go once more. I just put in my 2 weeks’ notice at work. My last day will be on January 13th, which coincidentally is my birthday. What not a great birthday gift to give oneself than that of another adventure?

I have a roundtrip ticket for Portland to Guatemala in Central America. I leave in 3 weeks and will be back in June. I’ll be taking Spanish language immersion classes and then spending some time to travel to Belize, Honduras, Yucatan Mexico and around Guatemala. And when I come back, I’ll bike from Vancouver, BC along the Pacific Coast down to Tijuana, MX. And by August, I should have time to hike the Wunderland Trail around Mt. Raineer, WA with my AmeriCorps friends Dan and Tim.

And by then all my money will be gone, I’ll be flat broke, and I’ll start all over again. A new adventure will always await.

Thanks for sharing in all my thoughts and travels. Make it happen. There’s no time like now.