Catching Katy

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Always a Lesson Learned

My last Guatemala-related post is a simple list of the things I learned, both our scheduled week and the extra week stranded.

  • It may rain or it may not rain
  • I could eat fried plantains every day
  • There are plenty muscles in my body that are never used
  • 10 people are not made to spend 14 days together (no offense to anyone on the trip, I love you all!)
  • I only thought I hated my bed at home
  • I actually miss salad when I’m not allowed to eat it
  • I love cooking and miss it when I can’t cook
  • I take simple things for granted: drinkable water from a faucet, flushing toilet paper, my heating pad, always having a phone
  • Never fly American Airlines
  • I am so lucky to have my wonderful family and friends, and to live such a comfortable life

I love Guatemala. I have been 3 times and hope to go again. Although it was a little stressful and annoying to be stuck for an extra week, it was a great time.

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An End in Sight…hopefully.

Wednesday, June 2 – Friday June 4

On Wednesday, we decided that we could not wait until Sunday to get home. We had waited long enough. There were rumors that the roads to El Salvador were open, so we sought out travel companies to price buses to El Salvador, while simultaneously spending about 3 hours on the phone with American Airlines to get our flight changed to one out of El Salvador, with no extra charge (thanks Holly!!!!!). Got the flights changed. Got seats on a bus (Greyhound-like style) from Guatemala City to San Salvador.

So on Thursday, a van picked us up at the hotel and took us to the bus station in Guatemala City. We could still see remnants of ash on the side of the roads and roofs of the houses. The bus loaded….we were not told there were 2 stops in San Salvador and didn’t really know which one we were supposed to get off at, but we picked one…..and we took off.

At the bus station, Guatemala City

On the bus

It is supposed to be about a 5 hour bus ride. We made it to exit customs on the Guatemala side and got new stamp in our passports. Then we went across the river to the entry customs in El Salvador, with NO stamp in our passport. Lame. This whole process took a long time.


But we made it to San Salvador, thinking there would be a hostel right by the bus stop. No such luck. We sucked it up and stayed a different hotel right at the bus station and grabbed dinner at Pizza Hut (so delicious). We took cabs to the airport about 5 hours before our flight, just to be safe and feel better about the whole thing, I honestly did not feel better until the plane was sitting at the gate.

Dinner at Pizza Hut

Our plane!!! San Salvador airport

We got to Miami without a hitch and had a long layover for a nice sit-down dinner, where we could actually order salad and eat lettuce and tomato and fresh veggies. We got to the gate only to find out that our flight was delayed because the flight crew had not arrived yet, Same problem as 2 years earlier at Miami. Hm. Long story short, we got into Atlanta at about 2am, got my parents’ house about 3am (my dad graciously picked us up), and went straight to bed.

The adventure was finally over. We got up fairly early on Saturday to drive back to Nashville and truly be home. 3 countries (Guatemala, El Salvador, US) and 3 states (Florida, Georgia, Tennessee) in 3 days. WHEW!

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The Saga Continues…and Continues….

Sunday, May 30 – Wednesday, June 2

Still stuck in Guatemala. Our Monday flight was pushed to Wednesday and our Wednesday flight was pushed to Sunday. There was nothing extremely exciting, so here are some of the highlights of these few days, stuck in Antigua.

  • Sleeping in.
  • Wandering Antigua.
  • Shopping.
  • Eating at McDonalds. multiple times.
  • Seeing a movie, Sherlock Holmes (in English with Spanish subtitles)
  • Hooka bar (my first time)
  • Tanning and hanging out on the hotel roof.
  • Drinking wine on the hotel roof. in styrofoam cups.
  • More shopping.
  • Delicious dinners and drinks.
  • Dance club.

Wandering and shpping around Antigua


Wine on the roof

Hooka bar

Hanging out on the roof

Delicious dinners

Dance club

Dance club

Gotta make the best of what you have, right?!? On Wednesday, someone decided enough was enough and that we needed to take matters into our own hands. More to come on that tomorrow!

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If it’s not one thing, it’s another

Saturday, May 29 (first bonus day)

5 of us got up at 4:30am to walk to the outdoors store to drive to the starting point of our volcano hike. It had rained all night, very loud on the roof, and was still raining. Our tour guide showed up a little late and said there had been some mudslides on some of the roads between Guatemala City and Antigua. We thought nothing of this since mudslides are fairly common in the country. So we set off, rain still pounding on the van. We drove off the main road onto the mountain roads…literally dirt roads. We came across a huge rock/tree root something that was blocking about 80% of the road, but managed to squeeze by in the van. But next, we came to a curve with an uphill, where 3-4 men were working to fill in where part of the road had washed away. Our tour guide got out and checked it out. A chicken bus came down the hill and at one point looked as if it might fall over. The tour guide said even if we managed to make it up, we would probably not make it back. So we sadly turned around and headed back to Antigua.

The massive thing blocking the road

Chicken bus coming down the hill

In the van driving back, probably for the better

Come to find out, when we got back to the hotel, a tropical storm was on it’s way. It literally poured rain all day. So we did some laundry, grabbed lunch, and hung out to see what was going to happen. Next thing you know? Airport is closed until Wednesday. Wonderful.

As the storm got worse, the girl working at the hotel (who was the best friend we had and wonderful) told us the last time a large tropical storm they lost power for 5 days….then we heard parts of the city had already lost power. Then our power started flickering ever now and then. It is hard to describe the scene. We were on all 3 computers frantically trying to email parents (“we may lose power for days!!!!!) while another group went to the grocery store to get the essentials: bread, peanut butter, jelly, and wine. To make a long story short, my roommate Meghan needed cash while at the store and stuck her debit card into the ATM just as the power completely shut down. It all worked out ok in the end, but it was a stressful time. The power came on after about and hour and a half, and some of the group still wanted to venture out for dinner. So we did. Still raining. Still cold. Still miserable.

These faces sum up the feelings after that long, cold, rainy day

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The Volcano Did What?!?!

Friday, May 28

Going home day, right?? Bus picking us up at 9:30am to drive into Guatemala City to the airport, right?? Oh wait, what did those guys from New York tell us at the club last night??

Pacaya erupted on Thursday, and for only the second time ever, dumped ash all over Guatemala City and the airport. All flights canceled. We begin sending emails and figuring out ways to make phone calls. We have no idea when the airport will reopen and when flights will resume, and our favorite American Airlines is no where to be reached.

Emails, emails, emails

A car with ash that came from Guatemala City

So what’s the first thing you do when you realize you are stuck in Antigua after a long weeek of hard work?? Get massages, of course. We found a spa and proceeded to choose a package (cheap!!!) for a 90 minute massage, manicure, and pedicure. It was absolute heaven. We also found an outdoor tour company and 5 of us booked a volcano hike (a dormant one, of course, don’t worry!!) for the next day. Yes, it sucked to be stuck, but we might as well make the best of our time, right?!

We finally found out later that day that we had been put on flights on Monday. I was going to have to miss my friends’, Mary and Brian’s, wedding. Huge bummer. I had been looking forward to it for months!! Well,  at least Monday is Memorial Day so I can make it back in time for my job training, right??……………

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Beautiful World

Here’s a little break from storytelling. Guatemala is a beautiful country: land, water, people, buildings. Here’s a sample of the beauty that we saw, though none of the pictures do it justice. Back to the saga tomorrow!

Docks of Panajachel on Lake Atitlan

View from hotel, Lake Atitlan

Women washing clothes, Santiago Atitlan

View of volcano from hotel, Santiago Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Men fishing, Lake Atitlan

The Arch, Antigua

View from hotel roof, Antigua

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Wrappin’ Up and Movin’ Out

Thursday, May 27

Half work day and travel day. We got to the work site and continued on the rock pile. I was definitely tired and, not going to lie, ready to leave and start travelin’ to the next town. But we got a good 2 hours of work in, then met with the head doctor, who thanked us and told us about the plans for the hospital. I have to admit that it didn’t really feel like we did that much, despite how our aching bodies felt. We took tuk-tuks back to the hotel, took quick showers, then hopped on the boat at the docks to head back across the lake.

Talking to the head doctor and saying goodbyes

Riding in the tuk-tuks back to the hotel

We took the boats back to Panajachel. The plan was to shop for a while in Panajachel then head to Antigua for our last night, but it was raining. So we stopped at the chocolate shop for a little sugar pick-me-up and heading toward Antigua.

Dina's Chocolate shop - Panajachel

We checked into Hotel Entre Volcanes, took in the view from the roof, then hit the market for some shopping. We all found some great items to buy: skirts, purses, paintings, jewelry. We went to Mono Loco for dinner, where Whitney and Holly shared a plate of MASSIVE nachos. A few of us went to a club, Cielo, for a fun and interesting experience. Although the techno music was a little much for me, the bartender was awesome and we had a good time. I went to bed, sad to leave the next morning but looking forward to being back in my own bed and finishing moving into our new house…..or so I thought.

Roof of the hotel - Antigua

the market - Antigua

Girls at Mono Loco

Holy Nachos!!!

Catholic church on the square lit up at night