Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Vacation 2010: Driving from Texas to Guatemala as a Family

My summer vacation began June 19th when Talia and I flew back to NE TX to be with my family. Unfortunately, we used the last of our frequent flier miles to get there and Ben, always up for an adventure, drove up later after seeing to the last details of our moving from the apartment to a house in Guatemala. We were glad to see family and friends and Talia really loved going to VBS in Texas!

We left North East TX July 21st and began our epic-like journey back to Guatemala City with a toddler.

July 21: Wednesday we made it all the way to Eagle Pass. We had decided to take a middle route, though on the map it looks longer, because of the tropical storm damage that took its toll on both coasts. This ended up being a very good decision due to great toll roads and hardly any vehicle searches. Ben, who has made this trip on the Gulf route about 4 times (before this one,) said that even if it was a day longer, it was a much better drive and worth it.

July 22: Thursday we crossed the border with barely any trouble at all and made it to the state of Coahuila, MX; a beautiful state I wouldn't mind visiting again. We didn't make it very far into MX today because of the long time it took to get the paperwork done at the border and a collapsed bridge that we had to figure out how to detour, but progress, nonetheless. We stopped in Saltillo, MX- I felt very safe here and wouldn't mind living here some day as it is only 2 days drive from my family and it is still in a safer part of Latin America.

July 23: Friday we arrived at Tlaxcala, MX- described as a hidden gem of a town bypassed by most tourists. I would have to agree with that assessment. It was beautiful and had many things I would have loved to browse if it weren't raining this entire day! Unfortunately, Montezuma's revenge found me here. ;)

July 24: Saturday we arrived in Oaxaca, a rather large Mexican town with very confusing roads, especially at night. There were many times two roads going one direction on either side of a middle road going the opposite direction... and the roads on the outside frequently switched into the lanes on the other side of the road at stoplights. Imagine all of this at night with millions of headlights coming out of nowhere at every stoplight. I think this is something you would probably have to experience to get the full benefit of what I am trying to explain. ;) In Oaxaca we were so ready to be finished with the trip and getting pretty stressed. We stayed at a local hotel that had interior parking and weird smells. I didn't sleep very well.

July 25: Sunday- we arrived in Tapachula, the last town on the border in Mexico before crossing into Guatemala! I was thrilled to stay in a very nice Holiday Inn Express here that had wonderfully huge beds and clean showers and free breakfast and working wireless... It was the best night's sleep throughout this entire trip. We debated staying an extra night to just relax, but we were so close to home, only one more day- plus it was expensive at $100 a night.

July 26: Monday- we crossed the Mexican-Guatemalan border and immediately noticed that we were not in Mexico any more! The roads got bumpier, guards with guns were at every convenience store, barbed wire was the most noticeable decoration and, of course, there were locals protesting the increase in electricity prices blocking the only way through to the capital. After waiting in a huge line for about 4 hours, they decided to go home due to the rainy seasons gushing outburst. The next few hours were occupied with me trying to keep Talia occupied so she wouldn't scream while Ben was trying to drive through torrential rain. We stopped at a convenience store for a break and were soaked running the 12 feet to the entrance. This last day was a constant struggle since we were almost home and everyone was so tired. We were very happy to find a Sarita for supper with a great play place for Talia to run around in! We then dragged home and collapsed.

Overall, this was a lifetime experience I will never forget. I could literally feel people praying for us the whole trip. I wish I could explain that feeling. I cried out of gratefulness several times because things went so smoothly. Ben has made this trip about 5 different times now that this one is complete. He was amazed at how few times we were searched and how easy it was when we were. We didn't get any speeding tickets. We didn't have to pay any bribes. The only trouble we had with the vehicle was a flat tire that was on a toll road on the way to Tlaxcala where they have people hired to help you in an emergency. It was perfect because they came and changed the tire for us and if they had not come, Ben would not have known to use a certain tool to get to the spare tire and we would have been stuck! I am crying as I type this because I still feel so amazingly blessed and protected. Driving through Latin America always makes me feel like a spoiled rich kid in comparison to everything around me. Though I try to constantly be appreciative, I still feel like I have so much more than I deserve! If I could voluntarily choose to do this again, I would do everything in my power to fly instead, but I am immensely grateful for His hand on us this trip.

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