Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Walk on the Wild Side

You guys all know I like to take risks, right? In fact, I think if I weren't to take any risks, my life would not be quite so entertaining. And then no one would ever read my blog! So today I took a pretty big risk (promise not to judge me please!), but I'll get to that in a minute here.

We are in Guatemala. The last port of call before we get home. It is bittersweet. First though, I should start out by saying
I am grateful that there is no swine, nor bird flu in this country, only murderers, thieves, and rapists- so we are perfectly safe. I mentioned before that tempers were short and frustrations were at their peek a few days ago. I kind of dismissed the negative energy, but this morning as we arrived into port, I was aggravated with some planning (or lack thereof). The Diplomatic Briefing was about the dangers of this country like the gang activity, the muggings, and the erupting volcanoes. I thought the only thing that might erupt was my head. But I needn't bore you with the details of my irritations, because they are really small in the grand scheme of things.

As I've often been doing since we visited India, I thought about the serenity of the Hindu cows that graze the land there, and I regained my peace of mind. I had a trip at noon. The Briefing ended and the ship cleared at 10. (By the way, Guatemala appears to be the most dangerous country we've visited. The Diplomats told us not to go off alone. Not to be out past 11 PM- even with friends. And that there are many rapes, murders, robberies and other crimes. No swine flu though.....phew!) We are docked in an industrial port, but there is also a cruise ship terminal. The latter has a bunch of cute little coffee shops and vendor booths with Guatemalan crafts. Our ship runs a free shuttle to that port while we are here, but it is about 1 kilometer away. My dilemma was that the first shuttle didn't leave until 10:30 and I needed to be back to OUR terminal by 11:45 to get on the bus to take me on my trip. The trip, by the way, was a drive-through safari, which I'll talk about in a second also.

So after some contemplation, I decided just to go on the shuttle to the cruise ship terminal, and if I needed to walk to be back by 11:45, I could just do so....after all 1K is less than 1 mile and I walk about 8 miles per day on average at home in New York. The shuttle left late, and we got to the cruise ship terminal at about 10:50. There was not a shuttle to be seen for the return trip back to our ship, though! I start panicking, because I hate being late and I really wanted to go on my trip! So I began to follow a few students who also had to be back to the ship, and we started walking. Oh and by the way- the 1K, was more like 3K.....they told us the wrong thing. Somehow I got separated from everyone else and couldn't really figure out the twists and turns of how to get back to our ship.

So I'm sweating and my little heels are starting to hurt my feet. A truck with three Guatemalan guys drives by and honks and waves. I wave back. They pull over.
Hola, Mamacita.

Hola!
I say. Donde? they ask. La marina, I answer.

(This is where the risk comes in.)
Two of them hop in the back of the truck and I hop into the front with the driver. I was dripping sweat.

I was lost.

And I was sick of walking the dusty roads of Guatemala. Good idea, Laurie.
Get into a car with strangers, FANTASTIC idea, I say to myself. Why, pray-tell, would I choose to get a ride from Guatemalan strangers?

Alone
for crying out loud!

Alone. In a country where there are rapes, murders, and erupting volcanoes..... Because it's hot. Because my feet hurt. Because I don't want to miss my trip. Because I'm hungry and I want to grab a bite before I go.......except I can't eat because my heart is in my throat......


It's gonna be okay, Laurie. Deep breaths. Slow your heart. Besides, Laurie, you won't catch swine flu, so you're just fine!
a little voice tells me. That little voice also whispers "in the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit" and then that little voice says a few hail mary's. After a few moments of panic, I start to breathe again. Which is just about when the Guatemalan driver turns down a long windy road. Oh shit, the little voice says once again. This doesn't look familiar. I am totally going to die right here in Guatemala.

But somehow, out of nowhere I end up back at the cruise ship terminal where I started my 3K walk! Uh oh! This is NOT our ship, where I need to meet for my trip. But hey, I'm alive! And hey, I *did* confirm "la marina" with the Guatemalan driver! So I kiss the driver on the cheek and I tell him Muchas gracias para 'not kiddnapping me'. (Anyone know how to say "kidnap" in Spanish?)

The Guatemalan driver smiles, and the other guys who had climbed into the back of the truck all smile and say goodbye, and then they drive away. Which is when the Semester at Sea shuttle bus pulls up.
Jesus loves me. I end up getting on the shuttle bus and making it back in time for my trip.

The Guatemalan safari was wonderful. I am so glad that I was not killed and I am so glad I made it in time for my trip. Here are some of the wildlife shots that I took:





Talk about taking a walk on the wild side.......

Oh- and then I got back to the ship this evening and guess who came back on the ship? Jason!!!!! From the Semester at Sea "home office". (If you don't remember Jason, see my Spain post about cafe' con leche'). Jason was my best friend as we sailed to Spain, but he had to leave in Morocco to go back to work. He works for the Alumnae department, and he only gets to go on partial voyages. Now he is back here at the ship once again from now until we get to Florida.

So this evening I came back onto the ship after my safari, and went into the dining room and there he was across the room. I squeeled and jumped up and down when I saw him. We went running towards each other in slow motion, kind of like "Chariots of Fire". We hugged eachother tightly, no letting go! And everyone in the dining room was clapping and cheering upon seeing our joyful reunion.

I am grateful to be alive. I am grateful that no one judges me for my bad decions. I am grateful that there is no swine flu. I am grateful that Jason is back. I am grateful that no volcanoes erupted.

I love my life. I'm happy to still HAVE my life.
(But I still can't wait to fall into the safe, loving, open arms of my mom, who will be flying down to meet me as I disembark in Fort Lauderdale next week.)

1 comment:

Dara said...

Of all the dumb decisions I've made in my life, you've topped me.

HOLY CRAP LAURIE, WTF?

Promise me you'll never do anything that stupid again.

You're lucky you're alive.

xoxoxoxox