Below are the entries I created in a journal for Elizabeth before, during, and after our trip to Guatemala. It's a brief snap shot of our trip, my feelings and observations of the experience, and information about the Guatemalan culture.
-The day began very hectic. I was busy packing my suitcase to come meet you, packing B's things so he could stay with his Nana, and anxiously awaiting Wayne and Ed to pick me up. Ed in his normal fashion (an activator) had me in a frenzy about what to expect in Guatemala City. he's shared that we won't be able to leave the hotel after you arrive because of safety issues. He's also told me that I'll have to pay the customs agent to be allowed back into the US. I'm nervous as I've never left the country before but so excited to meet you! You must be a sweet heart because your dad's eyes just light up when he says your name. I've seen many pictures of you! We've watched your first year of life in pictures. We, your fathers friends and I thought for sure you would be with us by now and the wait gets tough as each week goes by (especially for your dads). I've brought you some rubber ducks for bath time and a book to read together during the visit. When I thing about how short this visit is I realize how hard it will be to leave, especially for your Dad.
-I'm thinking I may leave the two of you together and venture out to see your birth country. I'll check into tours when we arrive. I'd like to learn something while I'm visiting so I can share with you as you get older.
-Our flight to you left from Cincinnati and we arrived in Miami! Your dad and I read smut magazines during the flight....the big question is who is the father of Anna Nicole's Baby and is Katie really leaving Tom Cruise? As I'm writing this we are waiting on the connecting flight for "two screws", which need to be placed in the plane for take-off. It's been over an hour and all the people on the flight are getting restless, including me. It's difficult to wait when we're so driven to come and see you.
April 1, 2007
-I didn't finish writing last night because we were exhausted! But I was floored as we left the airport at the immediate cultural differences. People were gathered (crammed) at the gate waiting to greet their loved ones. Cars, vans, and mini-buses were every where! Children and adults were randomly offering to assist is in the hoped of being tipped. Ed quietly warned me to stay with him. I didn't hear him and a young boy scooped up my suitcase and followed us to the shuttle bus. I assumed that he worked for the hotel. he didn't and your dad was a bit irritated with me! We stopped at McDonald's it was a bit different but felt a little like home or at least tasted it! We settled in at the Clarion Hotel, had a taste of Guatemala Rum and went to sleep.
-Now we've had our breakfast (tortillas with ham and cheese, chicken tacos, fabulous fruits and pastries). you should be arriving with in the next hour. your dad has bottles, diapers, wipes, and rash cream. me I brought ducks and the book. It's amazing that I've never met you but already you have a special place in my heart. I can't wait to see you!
-Notes from today's paper! Clearly I don't speak Spanish but I know you'll learn or at least I hope so!
Paper: Guatemala Siglo Veintiuno
Front page: Mario Gonzales "Los Salvavidas Somos heroes Anonimos
Other headlines: Vielmann Se Va, Llega De Torrebiarte
Afinan bienvenida para repatriados
Ami and another young lady (your nanny) brought you to the hotel for a visit. I could read in your eyes that you were worried they were going to leave you. Your lip began to quiver and tears rolled from your eyes. hard to swallow but at least we know these people are taking good care of you and that you are loved. your dad is talking with you now, baby talk.....his favorite thing to say to you at this moment is "Whatchya doin' little girl?" You're dazing in and out of crying but I imagine nap time will be coming soon. You stood on your own with a death grip on my shirt. I hope you are able to get comfortable in the next day so that we can see your one year old "tricks".
The day went by fast even though we weren't allowed to take you anywhere. We tried to have you take a nap because you were yawning, but you couldn't sleep. We went to the hotel restaurant for lunch and upon our return our room smelled like carpet glue. We went to the executive lounge...you had fallen asleep in your dad's arms.
Every where we go people comment on how cute and precious you are. You're very slow to warm up to strangers, me included, but took to your dad immediately. In fact if I get to close, try to hold you, or even play with you the tears and crying begin. We're winding down for the night. you and your dad have played toss the ducks, toes to nose, and read a book. We both were tickled when you babbled "Da Da". It's hard for me to think about your dad having to leave you tomorrow evening. It's clear you two have bonded. You're going to make him the happiest man in the world! I'm glad that I've been able to be a part of this experience. I hope to watch your story unfold into a true fairy tale!
April 2, 2007
-You slept well through the night, at least that's what your Papa told me, I didn't hear a peep from you. After I got ready for the day I peeked into see you lounging with papa. you were a bit fussy but we think that you're teething. I'm waiting here in the lobby now for my day trip to Antigua. This will give the two of you some along time. I know you'll enjoy your time together even if you can't go anywhere. I've decided that your birth country is beautiful and the people are friendly. Everyone has been kind to your father and I. We've heard a lot about the history of your country. We've heard that their are 22 (at least) different civilizations in the Mayan Culture and that each one has it's own language. That's hare to fathom considering the country is smaller than the state of Texas!
-Fabio, my personal tour guide has brought me to Antigua, about an half hour drive from the city. I just spent way to much money in a Jade jewelry store. Let's just say I didn't really understand the exchange, but the jewels are worth it! (note I didn't really spend as much as I thought). I'm now sitting in the central park, surrounded by the world's largest Cathedral, government buildings, ice cream carts, tourist, people on mules. I'm amazed that everyone I meet knows so much about the countries history. We, my tour guide and I, walked through the town, several churches, and markets. I haven't seen any paintings for you yet, nor anything for B. I have seen many churches, monasteries, and hotels...Fabio says at least 23 monasteries are in Antigua. It seems like such a small place but it is packed not only with buildings and people but culture too. I'm now ordering lunch in a restaurant where Bill Clinton ate. La fonda de la Calle Real. I've ordered chicken, rice, and potatoes. I couldn't bring myself to try the local food. To many items I've never heard of. Someday you'll understand that I'm a chicken tender and pizza kinda girl.
These restaurants are filled with beautiful flowers, umbrellas (as it is an open court year), and ambiance. The kitchen is an open area...like a bar. All the plates are stacked and there is one chef. It's quiet and cozy, children sneak in to try and sell various things to the patrons. It is explained to me that these children are poor and are trying to make money for their families. They were rushed off by the wait staff.
It is hold week, so I've seen many saw dust rugs which are used for the procession. I also saw the very large "box" which the men carry religious statues on. It was huge and looked very heavy. Fabio explained that the men volunteer to carry this thing all over the city as part of their repentants (or apology to God).
The food was good the chicken was roasted in garlic, the rice was cooked with carrots and onions, and the baby potatoes buds were also roasted. Overall very good food.
There's so much to take in. The smell, the noise, the sights. A camera and my words don't do it justice. The feeling is calm but the traffic flies by and is crammed into the tiny streets. There is no animosity, as is exhibited in the US. Various cultures are welcomed, the local culture is celebrated. It's hard to think that these people are living in a third world country, they're poor (as in wealth) but exhibit kindness in all they do.
April 3, 2007
We're preparing to leave for the airport. you left last night Fernando picked you up. He was a very nice man; friendly, handsome, and personable. you smiled when you saw him, no tears. He handed you to the nanny who was seated in the back, no car seats in Guatemala. You turned and smiled at your Papa as if to say "I'm fine and I'll see you soon, love you." We then went on a quick walk around the block for fresh air. We saw many beautiful buildings and stores. We could have bought something for you in each store. We dinned on Dominoes and prepared for bed. It's now 5:30 am and I'm in the lobby waiting for Ed. We'll head to the airport. I'm looking forward to getting home to see B, but it comes like an evil trick because leaving means you aren't with us yet. I suppose the positive would be the sooner we arrive home the sooner you'll arrive. I wish they would have been able to allow you to come home with us today. Ed believes it will be another six to eight weeks. I hope sooner.