Carmina\’s Guatemala…..

Dear F&F,
March 8-12, 2009

Carmina & Alejandra bravely took the coastal \”scenic drive\” from Guatemala City to meet us at Bahia del Sol, El Salvador. Seven hours later, they landed onboard Beach House, pretty tired. We took the more direct route back to Guatemala City the next day, only 5 hours. The border crossing was easy enough, a quick glance at our passports and we were in.

Carmina treated me to a stop at \”Hiper Pais\” (eeper pice), a huge wonderful grocery store that I had hoped to shop at the San Salvador location. Scott & I scoped out the wine selection & I got some yummy peanut brittle, just a brief stop.

The Vista Real Hotel where Carmina booked us in Guatemala City was first class. Beautiful grounds, lobby, plush bedroom suite and a jacuzzi tub. I felt like the Little Mermaid in the king bed with a giant clam shell dcor. We freshened up for dinner with the Robles family. Art & Suzanne had visited Carmina in this same home over 20 years ago.

It was great to meet Eddie Sr & Eddie Jr, Cokey and the rest of the extended Robles Clan. It was an ironic twist of fate, that Carmina who was Art and Suzanne\’s live in helper, now has her own helper, \”Yolanda\” (who is Mayan) prepare a fantastic dinner in typical Guatemalan style. The chicken had a delicious sauce with ground pumpkin seeds & mild chilies. There was rice, vegetables tied in neat bundles and the thicker style tortillas found throughout Central America.

We waddled back to our hotel with full bellies and warm hearts.

We spent a leisurely morning enjoying the breakfast buffet and delicious Guatemalan coffee. Carmina & Alejandra picked us up about noon for the drive to Lake Atitlan. It was 5 hours including a nice lunch stop. The road was under construction the last 2 hours but arriving at Hotel Atitlan made the trip worthwhile. The property is perched on the edge of Lake Atitlan with 2 volcanoes across made a stunning view.

Although there were many guests coming & going, the place still had a relaxing feel. The grounds boast beautiful botanic gardens all around, swimming pool, jacuzzi and nicely appointed restaurant/bar. The next morning, we enjoyed hiking in the dense tropical vegetation at a former coffee plantation nearby. They have a living butterfly exhibit. It was not the prime season, only a few yellow butterflies fluttered under the canopy, but we got quite an education from the bilingual displays and informative worker.

Scott enjoyed watching old movies in the air conditioned room, while we girls took the \”tuk tuk\” into town to shop. We were more lookers than buyers, but we did find a place to enjoy chocolate cupcakes and fine Guatemalan lattes. Alejandra\’s birthday is March 14 so we put a lit match in her cupcake and sang Happy Birthday to her, 3 days early. We got in the \”tuk tuk\” just in time for it to start pouring rain. A fun time had by all.

On the ride back to Guatemala City, Alejandra & I made efforts to learn a bit of each other\’s language. We are sad that we lived so long in Mexico & Central America and know so little Spanish. It would have helped if we could have stayed in one place long enough to take a conversational immersion class. We are still on the move, and soon will be in French speaking areas, so I am afraid we will just continue to limp along.

We had a few hours to rest at the house before checking in for our 8:30 pm flight to Los Angeles. Tears all around as we hugged Carmina farewell, wondering when & where we will see each other again. Thankfully with email we can keep in close touch.

Scott and Cindy