I´m baaaaack........

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Well, after the last post, it is time for something positive.  Thanks to all the folks who have been reading and responded positively.  I hope more are able to benefit from the information I shared, as that was my intent, and I hope it helps you keep yourself safe in the future.

Between my last two posts, there was some fun stuff that happened.  I completed my ASA 101 Basic Keelboat Sailing class with flying colors....But not one photo to prove it.  We sailed on a Hobie 33 and it was a quite "spirited" boat.  No major injuries, I passed the test, and hope to move forward with now getting some more experience under my belt.  Hopefully, that is in my immediate future.

The day after I finished my sailing class I was preparing to leave Tortugal, finally, and a bunch of the cruisers threw me a little going away party.  It was so heartwarming.  I have made some terrific friends here and feel incredibly fortunate to have these new friends in my life.  Everyone contributed some food and drinks and I loved watching Ariane as she enjoyed her very first American marshmallow.  It was sad that the time had come for me to leave, but I was flattered that they chose to send me off with a party.  Thanks to all who were there!

Although my trip to Guatemala City and Antigua was brief, there were some highlights and I want to tell you about them.  Guat City was basically a shopping excursion for me, and for many of you out there, you know how much I DISLIKE shopping, so this portion of the trip was laced with a bit of anxiety.  But after nearly nine months out of the US the limited clothing and supplies I had needed to be tweeked  a bit and it is always easier to do that in a larger city, as opposed to these little villages I have been spending the bulk of my time in recently.  Suffice it to say, most of the indigenous folks here are substantially smaller than me and buying clothes has been a complete nightmare....even in Guat City.  After two days of running around, chasing my tail, I was able to acquire about 65% of what I had on my list.  Oh, what I wouldnīt give for a trip to Macyīs, Target, Kmart (which has great "work" type clothes) and a CVS.  I could have cut the time invested in by more than half. 

Guat City has some beautiful old Colonial style buildings, and a rich history.  I didnīt have time to witness much of that.  The thing that stands out the most in my mind is the pollution.  It reminded me of being in Havana where they burn some insane combination of gasoline and kerosene.  It was horrible.  That and the goat herder I say moving his goats through the downtown area.  That was bizarre.  I got to ride some of the local buses and walked quite a bit.  One thing I can say without question about the people in this country is they are incredibly friendly and helpful.   It makes me sad that a handful of thieves and robbers are making it so difficult for others to enjoy the warmth that the people here have to offer.  Maneuvering the local buses was easy, discerning the stops was not.  There was ALWAYS a smiling face and offer of help BEFORE I needed it.

As mentioned in the last post, I had the good fortune of traveling with my new Swiss friends, Ariane and Martin, and we had some really great moments together.  They laugh easily and share my passion for food, so we have had no trouble spending time together.  Actually, I had had diner with them at an amazing local restaurant just before my attack and we oohed and aahhhed  over the food like crack addicts who just got a fix.  When I went back to my hotel and was flipping through magazines, I ran into a quote I thought so appropriate for us all from Bernard Shaw, "there is no love more sincere than the love of food".   I couldnīt agree more heartily  Suffice it to say, we travel well together.

For the better part of two days, we walked the streets of Antigua admiring the architecture and local markets.  We ate off the beaten path, and had some great experiences.  The photo opportunities in this area are amazing, and I have included quite a few good shots here.  As I was intending to spend several more days in Antigua after Martin and Arianne left, I pretty much just followed them around and saw what they wanted to see the first two days and we stumbled onto some great stuff.  One was a parade of local students and we had birdīs eye seats as three separate drum groups did these amazing performances for an excited crowd.  Us New Orleanians are suckers for a parade and I enjoyed watching the students perform. 

We joined Rachael, my English gal pal who was with us many weeks ago in Tortugal, and had a fabulous dinner together.  Then, after dinner Rachael took me to a place her new friend from New Orleans owns.  Language and cooking school by day and bar at night....Perfect !  We had a lovely visit and planned on continuing our travel together until I had my problems. 
When I returned to Tortugal to my room with no doors and windows (basically a tree house) for a sense of better safety, I was welcomed with open arms.  The folks here are just so damned nice.  Russell the manager and former EMT tended to my head wound.  Neville and Catherine Hockley who are stopping over here in Rio Dulce during hurricane season while they wait out their continued  circumnavigation (see www.zeroXTE.com) used to joke frequently with me about the amount of time I was sitting in the hammock under the Ranchito (my room) .  But as I sat and enjoyed the tranquility of it the day after I returned, Neville came to chat me up about what had happened.  He and Catherine extended me an invitation to join them that night on their boat for dinner and I gladly accepted

Talk about nice....they had a New Orleans music CD in the stereo,  an NOLA inspired pasta dish that included chicken and sausage and what we ultimately dubbed "cat poo pie", a concoction of melted marshmallow, chocolate rice crispies, I believe a few corn flakes and colored sprinkles.  White trash living at itīs VERY best!  Talking about what happened in the safety and comfort of their boat was exactly what I needed and their generous spirit made me feel better and more relaxed about everything.  They were so kind in every detail of trying to bring a sense of home to me that night and I will never forget their generosity.  Plus, they are damn funny to chat with .  He an Englishman and she a lovely Irish lass, share a quick wit and zest for storytelling.  It was a terrific evening.  Thanks so very much kids. 

I had bought a ticket to leave the country on September 8th,  and was preparing to fly into Costa Rica and then travel on to Boca del Toro, Panama.  But, as things turned out, I received an email yesterday asking me to boat/dog sit for a couple I had met almost 2 months ago at Dietmarīs birthday party.  I researched the cost of a ticket change, went and met their dog, and as flexibility continues to rule my world, I am staying on the Rio for another two weeks.  I pushed my exit date up to the 23rd and will be moving to a new Marioīs Marina tomorrow to take care of my charge, an adorable Dalmatian named Basil.  It will be a great opportunity for me to network with some new cruisers and see what life at a different marina is like.  When I toured it yesterday, I stumbled onto some folks I had previously met, and they were very welcoming.  I look forward to this experience.

But...here is the deal....I HAVE to be out of Guatemala by the 29th of September when my visa expires so there will be no more delays about leaving.  I know many of you are anxious for me to get out of here and it HAS to come sooner than later.  Security is good at this new location, and having a dog with me at all times only increases the safety factor.

I will be posting again before I leave the country.  Thanks everyone for your continued support from afar.  I am loving you from here!   
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badnomad on

Am glad to hear you can add sailing to vast list of skills, hopefully one day we can share a sail.
i am off to the UK tomorrow for 2 weeks, no itinerary, will email you when I get back.



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