Family Vacation

It’s the last day of school break for me so I want to post one last time while I still have the chance. Since several friends have asked about my recent vacation with my daughter’s family, I thought I’d share the vacation photos here. It was their first time in Guatemala!

I will admit that for over a year, I would wake up each morning here with sadness to have left my grandchildren in the states. You can imagine how overjoyed I was to see them again! I had worried that they might look different because young children can change a lot in a year and a half. Instead, it was as if we had never been apart. I melted in our hugs, relieved to see them again.

Ariel and Tom graciously took care of the hotel, meal, and transportation costs so I was able to completely relax. At Lake Panajachel, we stayed several days at La Iguana Perdida in Santa Cruz la Laguna. The good thing about it was that it offered the children a lot of freedom within it’s gates, a pool table, friendly dogs, hammocks and bunkbeds.

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Photos: above is beautiful Ariel; below is the view from CECAP restaurant. The kids loved riding on boats and tuk tuks!

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We visited San Marcos to visit my friend, Nikolina, and also San Juan, where our first stop was a tiny cafe with Turkish coffee, tacos, and a view of the lake. Boom.

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We also visited one of the many stores that offer demonstrations on weaving and dyeing yarn. We were all fascinated and had a greater appreciation of the many woven clothes and bags for sale.

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We had a full day of walking and enjoying the beauty of this small town. One of the most unusual sights there is the front of this old church with it’s oddly laid stones. A second church was built next to it, leaving only the façade of the older church in place.

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We did other things while at the lake, such as to visit the Butterfly reserve outside of Panajachel (wonderful!) and Luisa bought little beaded souvenirs while Seamus searched and searched for a toy—he’s five years old, after all. Soon it was time to head for Antigua where we stayed at Ramelle’s airbnb. I really think that her home could be a vacation destination all it’s own. I hope to return there for a few days, just to enjoy the peace and quiet and the many books in her library.

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Antigua is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with extraordinary beauty and a fascinating history. Having only a few days together, our focus was on child-friendly fun so we headed for the Valhalla Experimental Station which is a macadamia nut farm outside of Antigua. The farm offers a relaxed atmosphere with beautiful outdoor tables in the middle of a grove where you can order breakfast or lunch. Their meals are fabulous! While we were waiting for our food, the kids started to look bored. Oh, oh. Suddenly the farm owner appeared with two bags and asked the kids if they would like to pick up fallen macadamia nuts that were everywhere, in exchange for chocolates. Deal!

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When we finished our meals, we took a tour of the farm. There’s not much to see but it was so much fun, especially for the kids. There was even an old swing that the kids enjoyed for a long, long time.

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Ariel and Tom enjoyed the macadamia farm as much as the kids did. We all left a little enchanted by the experience. Over the next few days we visited cafes, ruins and a museum. I was sorry that we could only visit one of the ruins but glad that they were visibly impressed by it’s grandeur and beauty. Actually, one day, my grandson, daughter and I visited the Hotel Casa Santo Domingo on our own. We went down into the burial chambers, visited the museum of silver artifacts, and shopped in the decadently chocolate, chocolate shop.

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On the last night of our vacation, Tom and Ariel wanted us to have dinner at Santo Domingo Del Cerro, which had been recommended by Ramelle. I would never have imagined going to such a fancy place on my own or with my fellow Peace Corps Volunteers. But in fact, the menu is affordable if you choose right, and there’s a free shuttle from town to the restaurant which is high on a hill overlooking the city. We arrived when it was still light and we sat next to large windows that offered a view of the hillside, city, and volcanos. At night, the lights of the city twinkled brightly.

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Our time together was beautiful. I was not sad this time, when we said goodbye knowing that I will complete my Peace Corps service in a few short months. Now the children are not confused about where I am or why I left or when I will return. I think we are all better off after the vacation. When they left, I headed for my favorite place, La Boheme Cafe in Antigua. I sat and mused over our time together and while sipping my Chai Tea, I gave prayerful thanks for both of my children, Ariel and Adrian, and their families.

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Family members and friends have visited many Peace Corps Volunteers in their sites around the world, learning more about our work and about the beauty of the countries that we are lucky enough to call home for two years. I feel especially lucky to be here. I have a friend, Sandy, who is psychic. She recently talked to me about the photos and writings that I am focused on while I’m here:

“These pictures, these places—this is healing your soul. These are things that you have not been able to heal in previous lifetimes that you’re getting the opportunity to do and see and realize why you longed so hard to be there. You may not know specifically, oh I died here in 1580 A.D., you don’t know that, but your soul knows. You needed to be back here to experience the feeling of the mountains, of the water, of the forest. You needed to be here. This is healing you on levels that you didn’t realize.”

I appreciated her words so much because it was exactly what I had felt for so long and knew to be true. If it weren’t for my family scattered around the U.S., I would settle here.

Or maybe I will one day.

 

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2 thoughts on “Family Vacation

  1. I am so impressed with your spirit to serve – you have given me hope that I too can serve a greater purpose than to just live, but to fulfill a journey of life that may never end.

    • Thank you for your lovely note, Stephen. You know, this does not feel like service. I am the one being served by being here–I gain so much from this experience. Your spirit to serve has already been expressed by being a father, by serving as a council member, and anytime that you are true to your heart (the most important thing of all). Bravo!

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