Guatemala, Part One: Getting there is half the fun!

New England weather is a fickle thing. One day it looks like spring has come early, the next day I’m busting my ass on a snowy side walk during a legit snow storm. My coccyx is fine, don’t worry. Since I hate being cold and I hate snow storms, I won’t be hiking this week by the looks of it. But, I promised all my Internet friends that I’d write at least once a week, so I figured we could a series type of thing about my trip to Guatemala last month! Sound fun? Great, grand, wonderful. Buckle up, put on some Netflix for background noise, and get some snacks, because this might be a long one.


 

The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.

Saint Augustine said that, and it’s been written in my journal for years now. That guys an actual saint, he knows what he’s talking about. Something I can talk about on end is my complete lack of understanding for people that never go and see any part of the world except for the one they just so happened to land on. You know there are mountains that are FIVE MILES tall? And you know that there are beaches on the earth with crystal clear water and the whitest of white sand beaches, right? Or museums that will shake you to your core with their awe-inspiring collections? Or even theme parks the size of Rhode Island? Or literally anything you’ve ever wanted to see? I don’t care who you are, everyone can benefit from traveling and seeing even a fragment of the planet.

Rant over. Back to what you came here to read about, me. Just kidding…anyway here’s our feature presentation.


 

Part 1: Bonus Trip to Houston

So I went to Guatemala on the same service trip offered through my college in the winter of 2013 as a young freshman with no friends on the trip and no international travel experience. I’ve had pretty extensive travel experience in the United States, the seasoned veteran of a couple cross-country trips and a few end to end east coast trips, including one where the radio was broken so my dad and I had to listen to a Macklemore CD the entire 22-hour trip. So yeah, I’ve been through some shit. Don’t talk to me about struggle until you hear Macklemore’s classic Thrift Shop approximately 276 times in one day.

Solo travel on your own is a different beast though. That first trip I was scared. I was nervous. But I knew that this is the kind of thing I wanted to do, I wanted to travel and help people and grow through those experiences. So I got on the plane. I proceeded to have a kick-ass time, came back forever changed, yadda yadda all that stuff. I’ll get into that later.

This time was different. I went into this trip knowing almost everyone on the trip, had two of my best buds in the trip with me, and a bunch of time traveling alone throughout New England under my belt. I was ready, I was pumped. I got to Logan Airport in Boston four hours before we were supposed to meet as a group  to go through security together.

Well, shit.

Logan Airport has these neat little rocking chairs where you can watch the planes come and go, which I highly recommend if you ever get stuck in the airport before going through security for four hours. Which I’m sure happens to everyone… right guys? Once I finally met up with the group, we were pleased to learn our plane was delayed for two hours. Ah, whatever, what’s two hours in the grand scheme of a week in Guatemala?

Let me thicken the plot a little. This two hour delay would cause us to arrive in Houston at the exact same time our connecting flight to Guatemala would be taking off.

So our trip supervisor, Dr. Steven Bridge, came to us and told us the deal. We could either go home and wait for the next flight to Houston two days later on Wednesday, or put our asses on the line and take the flight to Houston and hope for a helluva tailwind to get us there in time to catch the flight. Our group rationalized that no plane would leave when thirty of its passengers were merely ten minutes late, so we rolled the dice and got on the plane.

Turns out, they will leave. Airlines don’t give a finnuck. We missed our flight to Guatemala by about 27 seconds I think. So now, we’re stuck in Houston until our new plane leaves two days later on Wednesday. Now, it’s the 21st century. You would think a major international airport would have some kind of system for people stuck staying at the airport, with nowhere to go at 10 at night on a Monday. Well, you’d be wrong. They kindly informed us that Terminal B would be the quietest place for us to spend the night. I can tell you, there is nothing worse than sleeping under a payphone bank, behind some benches, on the ground, in an airport terminal. Add in the fact that it’s about 40 degrees in Houston and we’re all dressed for a Guatemalan Summer. Add in the fact that those “don’t leave your bag unattended” announcement s that go off every ten minutes in airports keeping our country safe with their robot voices don’t stop at any point. All night long. Finally, add in that apparently Monday night is “Test the Fire Alarms” night at Houston International, and you don’t exactly have the recipe for a productive night of sleep.

DSC_7740

May or may not be staged, but you get the idea. (Photo Credit: Fecteau)

 

Waking up at 5am, groggy as all hell, stumbling down an airport hallway with no shoes and foggy contact lenses is not the best. You ever see the movie Terminal starring Tom Hanks? It’s nothing like that. Actually, it’s kinda like that.  United Airlines was nice enough to give us all a few $7 vouchers for the food joints around the terminals. Half of the vouchers ended up being invalid, but hey at least they tried. We all loaded up in a shuttle that was three hours late around midday on Tuesday, headed to a nearby hotel, and damn near slept through the whole trip there before waking up Wednesday morning and actually getting on a plane and getting to Guatemala.

Tune in to the next installment in the…what are we going to call this. The Guatemala Series. Guatever. I don’t know. Just read the next one if you liked this one. If you didn’t like it, don’t tell me. I’m really sensitive.

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