Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blog Update First Group to Arrive - June 9, 2008

June 9, 2008

by: Colin, Hillary and Jessica

As most of you probably know, our journey began with chaos and confusion. Because of severe flooding in Bloomington, some of our group members - including the majority of the Spanish speaking ones - were not able to make it to the airport.

After Daniel Grundman's persistence and a great deal of scurrying about, we boarded the plane. Feeling excited and nervous, we departed from our tightly controlled world. Landing in Dallas/Ft. Worth, we managed to locate the nearest TGI Fridays, a comforting reminder of home as well as our last taste of American food for a while to come.

After our three hour Texas excursion, we began (with some turbulence) our Guatemalan adventure. The plane ride was uneventful, until we were alerted by the flight attendant that the pilot wished to inform us of some upcoming turbulence. This prediction proved largely apt and we soon found ourselves glad of our seat belts. Finally touching down in Guatemala City, we were dismayed that the airport was experiencing a blackout. We spent a fair amount of time waiting in the less than comfortable seats for the arrival of a bus.

When we finally departed from American Airlines flight 2155, we found ourselves attempting to navigate our way through customs. Exiting the sliding glass doors into a sea of Guatemalans, we searched for Hilda and Oswaldo, the unfamiliar but welcoming faces who were to escort us to our housing for the night. We spent the cab ride pointing out the various familiar logos and slogans on the billboards scattered around the city.

We spent the rest of our night admiring the indoor green house, strawberry juice, and pan dulce (sweet bread). After thanking our hosts and dividing up the sleeping quarters, we fell asleep grateful for a place to lay our tired heads. Abruptly awakened by the sound of a rooster crowing much earlier in the morning than we appreciated, we spent the morning watching Friends with Spanish subtitles and moved by the sight of the goat herder parading down the street.

After a breakfast of pan dulce, bananas, fresh pineapple, and more of the sweet strawberry juice, we left in a slightly cramped white van for San Juan La Laguna. We spent the beginning of the ride taking pictures of the Spanish signs and various other landmarks.

After spending a fair amount of time on this, with a few non-blurry pictures to show for it, our landscape faded into a rolling countryside. Needing some form of entertainment to occupy ourselves on the long mountain road, we began to sing. Our exercise in spontaneity began with Disney classics, slowly meandering towards Beatles hits, and ending with a medley of various musical compositions.

Our first minutes in San Juan were spent searching for the hotel. We inquired about the location of the new hotel, but none of the residents knew what we were talking about. We pulled up alongside a group of kids playing soccer and a man waved and got into the van with us. He knew where we were headed and turned out to be the owner of the hotel.

By the time we arrived at the hotel, it was pouring rain, which made us unload the bus rather quickly. After getting settled in our rooms, we went up the STEEP hill to meet Patrona, the woman who is cooking for us on the trip. We ate chicken, rice, vegetables, and handmade corn tortillas (a common staple of our Guatemalan diet) for linner/dunch. We returned to our hotel to have a meeting, (write in our) journal(s), and go to bed.

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