Ville and I came up with this great idea to surprise my Dad for his 21st :) birthday and so booked a plane ticket from Utila before heading to Guatemala. After a thrilling 18 hours on buses and border crossing (NOT recommended, i had to peel my butt from the seat when we got there), we made it to Antigua, Guatemala. Highly recommend this city to the less adventurous traveler (meaning you don't have to sail all the way here there is actually a plane that flies here), it has beautiful cobble-stone streets, cathedrals, colorful buildings, tourist police everywhere (safety first), cheaper than cheap (we spent $2.50 a night for our room), and some of the nicest people we came across on our travels.
While in Antigua, we did a day hike up an active volcano and played in lava. Yes, real lava! We even have video to prove it. We bravely followed our teenage guide up into the molten hot rocks, so hot it melted both of our shoes like marshmallows, and threw our walking sticks into the lava slithering down the mountain. I was a firefighter for a while, and i am sure this stuff is hotter than fire. Only in Guatemala can you hike into lava without safety equipment led by a 10 year old kid. Sweet. Why I travel.
From Antigua we bused it to Flores, this nifty little town on an island in a lake. The weather was great and water perfect for swimming. A day trip to Tikal, was some incredible ruins pretty well preserved. We sat on the tallest ruin that was high above the canopy of the rain forest and listened to the howler monkeys, parrots, and all kinds of crazy animals while we ate lunch. From that vantage point it was rain forest as far as the eye could see and 2 of the other ruins sitting out above the forest in the distance. One minute it was pouring and the next the sweltering sun was out. We took some pictures of animals we have never seen nor have a clue to the name of. Met some great friends, played some jenga, had some beers, and back to the open road on yet another crappy bus heading for Belize.
Belize was nice. After being so spoiled on cheap countries, this was not the place to save a buck. We stayed for a few days to lay on the docks, listen to the Lyrical King play some "entertaining" reggae, chase some barracuda and soak in the sun. Splurged on a great street dinner of 2 lobster tails, fish, mashed potatoes, rice, garlic bread, 3 mixed drinks, and chocolate cake for desert for 12 bucks. That was the best deal there by far. Onto our last bus over the border and onto Playa Del Carmen in Mexico. This last bus ride was our least favorite. We got ditched from our bus because of a "big bus holiday" at the border into Mexico (Ville and I laughed at the guys because we knew we were getting ripped off and so did they, but what do you do?) From the border, we had to get a cab to the next bus and then got screwed yet again and had to stand for a couple hours as the bus bumped on down the road. Needless to say, we were over it and ready to be over the bus fun in Central America for a while. Playa was touristy as all hell, but a great place to eat some great spicy tacos and sit our butts on some white sand and people watch. It was great.
Our flight to Portland went well (went from hot Mexico to a layover in Denver with a blizzard) and Lisa (my stunning, sweet, SINGLE sister) picked us up from the airport and drove us to Bend. The surprise was awesome! Dad was shocked and, of course, my mom cried. I had told them I was coming home in a month and Ville couldn't make it, so they were really surprised. Now that it has been about 2 weeks, we are off yet again....
To the Olympics here we come! My brother's best friend Tommy Ford from Bend made it into the Men's Giant Slalom (will be this Tues. so ALL of you better be cheering) and for my brother's up and coming 21st birthday (March 7th, Dad and my brother will be the same age, weird) Ville and I are driving him and his girlfriend, Sara, up to cheer our buddy on. Portland today, Seattle tomorrow, and onto Vancouver and Whistler. If any of you know anyone or have a place in Vancouver, we are looking for just some floor space to throw a sleeping bag down in the evening. Anything will do!
So, watch for us on t.v., tues. night, and will hope to see you all soon in person when I get back to Bend next week. Hope all of you are swell!!
Hugs and smooches,