Monday, January 7, 2008

Our Vacation - Part 1 - Panajachel

My head is filled with so much that happened in Guatemala. I'll try to begin at the beginning and take it a chunk at a time.

On the two days prior to the trip, we ha
d freezing rain and temperatures right around 31 degrees. When we went to bed, the temp was 31. I put out a prayer request. Did I mention I was near panic by this time....Last time we went for a visit, we had freezing rain. We sat on the plane at the gate for 3 hours. We missed our connecting flight. We lost one day of a long weekend with our daughter, Cupcake. So we tossed and turned and pleaded with God to either stop the rain or bring up the temperature. When we woke up at 2:00 (am), the temperature was 34!!!! Praise God, things were looking up!

We had a smooth flight, with no problems. We arrived in balmy Guatemala City on time. Our driver was waiting for us at the airport. We loaded up and headed for Panajachel (Lake Atitlan). We had had breakfast in Atlanta at about 8:00 that morning. It was now about 2:30. I kept thinking of asking the driver to pull into a Burger King or Pollo Campero, but I thought, "Oh we'll be fine. We'll eat as soon as we get in. It's 2.5 hours. We can do this." Big mistake....

Now I've read that Guatemala is mountainous. I've been there twice before, but we always stayed in Guatemala City and Antigua. The roads are windy and you go up and down, but the mountains are more... what you call... "scenic". Well, we drove for quite a while on these windy, scenic mountain roads. Then we hit the mountains. Oh my word! The only thing I can compare it to is the road up Pike's Peak. You know...sheer cliff up on one side of the car, sheer cliff down on the other side. Except there are trees to block your fall on the down side. And you're not going up and up and up. You're going up and up and down and down, and up and down and there are switchbacks every 40 feet. Oh yeah, and the chicken buses coming at you at 50 mph - and they yield to no one. And people are passing you on blind curves. And you are passing chicken buses on what appear to be blind curves. And there are people walking and riding bikes on these roads.

I will say this...the roads were very well paved and I never felt in danger. Our driver was excellent. More on him later.

Anyway, 2.5 hours into this, I tell the kids we should be there any time now. The driver looks back and says, "It's about 1 more hour. The normal road is closed. We took the other road. Sorry."
We're all pretty green. The kids are near meltdown. I'm wilting fast. I'm eyeing the window to see if I can open it, stick my head out, and hurl. But we endure. We suck it up. Just when we think we can't go on another minute...

This comes into view...

All I can say is "WOW!" The hunger and nausea are forgotten in the breathtaking grandeur of this scene. We drive on for another half hour. Then we stop at a scenic lookout.

This may be the most beautiful place on earth! God's magnificent glory is displayed here for all to see. It's the same kind of awesome as the Grand Canyon, except it's incredibly beautiful. The shades of blue are indescribable. The volcanoes are majestic. It's breathtaking! Absolutely stunning! WOW!

We jump back in the van. Another 45 minutes, and we finally arrive in Panajachel, hungry, tired, and awestruck.

Blessings to you,
Mamita J


ManyBlessings said...

One of these days I'm going to actually "see" the rest of Guatemala!

Mom&Dad to A & J said...

You did a great job describing that road. We had to take the "other" road on our way back from Solola on our visit trip. I could not look at DH for the nausea.
But the beauty is truly amazing. Our son's orphanage overlooks the lake - I have never seen anything like the beauty there. Thanks for bringing it to mind today!