Subtitled: Goodbye Guatemala, Hello USA
I know, I realize it has been nearly a month since I posted a blog. So much has been going on, and sometimes life needs to be lived, right?
We spent two enjoyable weeks in Guatemala City. We stayed in Zona 10, which is one of the safer areas of the city. Also oriented toward tourists, but we look like tourists even though we consider ourselves to be travellers. Anyway, we had a view of the volcanoes that are off to one side of the city. (I'm not sure which direction.) The volcanoes are apparently part of the city's symbol, as seen on one of the many manhole covers we found. All the same design, with the city crest featuring the three smoking volcanoes.
Part of our neighborhood had what looks like jade covered sidewalks! Absolutely amazing, and gorgeous! Though slick in the rain, and not good for worn-down tread on the soles of our shoes - we were slip-sliding away on rainy days. We talked to some young men at a café, and they said it looks like jade but isn't, it's a less precious stone. Not of the same crystalline quality as jade. But a similar color. They didn't know the name in English, so we still have no idea what kind of stone this is.
Plus there are areas where the stones, cut square or rectangular and about an inch thick, are LOOSE! I picked one up to show the guys, and told them this was my souvenir! Of course, they laughed and we had fun with that idea. But I'm sure there are tourists who seriously think about taking one of these sidewalk stones home. They really are beautiful!
We did our usual wandering around, finding little places we liked and going back often enough that the staff recognized us. Striking up conversations in either English or Spanish, so we could find out a little more about the country and the city. Visiting the nearest artisans' market to buy gifts for family and friends, and chatting with people there. Having our usual fun.
However, Richard wasn't feeling great, and seemed to be suffering from traveller's tummy. Or La Turista. Or Montezuma's Revenge. So he stayed close to the hotel, as needed. We finally saw a doctor, who took some samples and came up with a "yes you have something, take this antibiotic." It seemed to help a bit, but not fully.
I went off on my own a bit - got a great haircut, visited a mall that had a double-decker carousel (have you ever even heard of such a thing??? I hadn't!!!), and of course I went for a ride on this wonderful carousel!
Plus I starting to sketch again. I stumbled on a website: http://www.urbansketchers.org/
Their motto or tagline or whatever is: "Seeing the world one drawing at a time." This is an international organization of people who draw where they are, where they travel, and share their sketches. I was so inspired, I bought a sketchbook, aquarelle pencils, and a few paintbrushes - and started another blog to share my drawings as we travel. The site: http://phebesketches.blogspot.com/ if you want to check it out.
Anyway, we flew back to the US, planning a visit to our usual spots in the northeast region. But Richard's stomach thing seemed to get worse, so we figured it was time to get serious about getting this resolved.
This turned into one of those farces you wouldn't believe if you saw it in a movie. The walk-in medical facility couldn't do the kind of testing needed, so they sent us to the emergency room. We spent a full morning there, with various specimens drawn or produced, and all kinds of tests. But they don't do follow-up, so they sent us to a doctor to tell us what was going on. Of course, we had to wait a day for the test results, and then saw the doctor. Tests were inconclusive, more tests had to be done, the orders for the testing were wrong and had to be on hold while the lab contacted the doctor and got the right info - it dragged on and on. For over a week!
Today we have a diagnosis. Parasites. Yeah, creepy. However, the medication isn't readily available and had to be ordered by the pharmacy. We can get the meds tomorrow. So, well, we've been spending time hanging with Richard's brother and sister-in-law, who are very calm and kind about us being here for so long. We're not able to go off and do much, because the parasites aren't cooperative that way. But we're hoping the meds will kill off the little creeps, and all will be well. With a follow-up visit next week, because apparently these are persistent little things. (All I can say is, wear shoes in developing countries!)
We've postponed our visits to other parts of the NE US. And we're sorry we haven't been able to catch up with everyone we'd like to see. Richard has been long overdue for a travel-related illness, though I've certainly seen more than my share of hospitals in various locations. Just part of being a rolling luggager, I guess.
Here's the updated map for our travels in Guatemala. We had a great time, other than Richard getting these little hitchhikers. Really a wonderful country with beautiful scenery, an incredible history, friendly people, and gorgeous textiles and arts and crafts.
Just wear shoes!