Archive | March, 2008
March 3, 2008

Building Pics in Guatemala

Courtesy of Melanie Rubin:

March 3, 2008

Antigua photos

After my camera was stolen, I bought a disposable film camera in Flores which still needs to be processed. However, when Colleen joined me in Antigua, she brought our old digital camera. Here are the Antigua pictures we took and a few from a BBQ in Utila that a friend took with her camera and sent me:

March 3, 2008

Home at last!

I am back in my apartment in Arlington. Immigration in Charlotte pulled me aside for “special” questioning and searching for the 3rd time in the 3 trips I’ve taken this past year. The 1.5 hour delay almost made us miss our connection from Charlotte to DC. Even at the Guatemala City airport, where I was supposedly among fellow brown men, I was searched 3 times, twice more than regular passengers. All this does make me a little depressed.

Originally, I had wanted to do a 3 month trip and include Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil and maybe Antarctica. Based on what I read in guidebooks and saw on travel shows, this seemed a simple and easy trip to make. However, Chile and Argentina wanted 1 month EACH to process my visa and Belize wanted $350 for a visa. As a result I couldn’t visit Chile or Argentina and did my diving in Honduras (with a little trouble at the border) instead of Belize. If I held almost any other passport, the fees and processing times would have been much more reasonable and if I held a US/Can/UK/Aus/EU origin or even an Israeli passport, I wouldn’t even need a visa for any of these countries.

But the trip I ended up making was fun, relaxing, exciting, rewarding and educational. Having to spend more time doing things and less time travelling may have even benefitted me. I will save South America for a future trip (possibly after obtaining a US passport). I learned a good amount of Spanish, got my open water diver certification, put up the walls for a new school in rural Guatemala with others, climbed 2 volcanoes, read a few good books and got to spend some quality down time with Colleen. No complaints here.

March 2, 2008

Pacaya / Diego’s Wedding

Today, we are heading back home to D.C. All in all, I’m looking forward to getting home. I will be facing a tough job market but I’m ready. This morning, Colleen and I had a 1 hour massage session together, which was very relaxing.

Yesterday, we mountain biked all over the city for 4 hours. I bought 2 shirts and 2 Mayan masks. Colleen bought a beautiful jade pendant. Later, we went to Manny’s (my pledge brother from Sigma Chi at Purdue) friend Diego’s wedding. It was very similar to what a US wedding would look like with language being the only major differentiating factor. However, it was held in a beautiful setting, in an outside coutyard with well manicured lawns and fountains. A band played virtually the entire time except during lunch and guests from all age groups danced the day away.

The day before yesterday, Colleen and I climbed Volcan Pacaya, an active volcano closer to Guatemala City. The climb lasted about 2 hours, maybe slightly longer for us because Colleen had trouble climbing the the mounds of solidified lava at the top which was very brittle and unstable and had dangerous jagged edges. However, getting within meters of flowing lava and roasting a marshmallow on glowing magma was very cool. I nearly burned my eyebrows off doing it though! That night we had a fantastic dinner at Cafe Flor. We were seated at an intimate candle-lit table for two by the window and enjoyed some first class Thai food while listening to the piano being played 3 tables away. We were the last people to leave the restaurant that night and had a couple of songs played just for us. The piano player/singer then came to our table and we chatted for a bit while I paid the bill. Just a perfect dinner!