Thursday, January 27, 2005

A week ago I hadn’t worn socks for weeks. Our time on the island of Roatan, about 50 miles off the coast of Honduras, was well spent. Raegan and I worked on our tans beside clear Caribbean waters by day and drank rum with folks from the islands, mon, by night. Today I am in a 4th floor apartment in the west-village, Manhattan. It is loud and it is cold and it is expensive and my skin is getting dryer and whiter by the second. What happened?

I’ll tell you….
Latin America is in my rearview. We finished off our trip with a visit to a Mayan ruin and a week on the beach. Were we sad to leave? Not really. The island was wonderful, relaxing, beautiful, and more, but our trip had run its course. As our date of departure neared, we felt more and more at ease with all that we had accomplished and with the fact that our trip would soon end. Rather than dreading the date we spent the closing days thinking over the last year and getting increasingly excited about our return home. We’d look at each other every once and a while and say, “I can’t believe we did it!” And we’d speculate about what it’d be like to, for the first time in a long time, spend time with people who know us. Now we know. And it’s nice, really nice.

Our trip home (to the US from the island) represented a new record for us: eight vehicles in one day. It went like this: taxi to airplane to airplane to bus to train to bus to airplane to the biggest SUV ever! Welcome to America.

As many of you know we chose to do an east coast swing before heading back to California. It’s been great. It’s allowed us a chance to see family and friends, and to take culture shock dose after dose. We started off in Herndon, Virginia, a suburb of D.C. with my cousin’s family, the Baylor’s. We couldn’t have had a softer landing pad. We relaxed, watched football, ate leftovers and were treated to a home-cooked meal. I scratched my head a little at our beloved game of football. But besides that, our only real culture-shock moment for the day was on our trip to the “new”, Wal-mart sized grocery store. When we walked in to the hangar-come-store, the woman behind us was so overwhelmed by what she saw, she gasped to her friend, “Oh my god,” who responded, “Isn’t it beautiful?” We too were impressed with the selection and quality of the fare on hand. So much so that were stood in the way of the shopping carts of others, jaws agape, paralyzed. We didn’t calm down until we were buckled in and watching a Gilligan’s Island episode on the DVD player in the back half of the SUV on the way home.

Next was D.C. and the inauguration really put a crimp on our plan to ignore the results of the election for as long as humanly possible. Tina also treated us to the comforts of home. In this case it was new toothbrushes, cheesy poofs, good beer, and a Neil Diamond CD. But most importantly, Tina asked us a gazillion questions about our trip. Whenever she saw our eyes glassing over, falling into a culture shock coma, she would ask us how we acquired dental floss along the way. Or she’d ask something trivial. All jokes aside, this question-asking tactic worked wonders. Besides being interviewed we also walked around the mall, but we kept tripping over sand bags and falling in bunkers. Besides it was damn cold. Off to Baltimore….

Paul and Amy kept the hospitality train rolling. We caught up with Tim, who cooked a mean curry, and Mike and had so much fun we started planning the next reunion. Raegan saw the city for the first time and really liked it. We met a certain Olympian. We ate in dinners, drank beers in dives and had a crab feast in a strip mall. Very Baltimore, very America. We had a great time there. Next to Phili.

Chris picked us up at the Greyhound station and took us on a tour of the city of brotherly love. The next day we ate a cheese steak in the early goings of a snowstorm and then hunkered down as the snow fell and fell. It was a far cry from turquoise waters, but whataya gonna do? The next afternoon we sat in a waiting room for our bus and listened to Cantonese pop music. Isn’t our country weird and wonderful? We took the Chinatown bus to NY, where I sit.

New York is amaizing. We’ve had a terrific time catching up with our old college pals, Allison, Nat, John, and Thaddeus, and we’ve been able to hang out with many other wonderful people. We ate oysters in a subway station and spent $13 on a sandwich at Katz’s deli. Wonderful and weird, weird and wonderful. As I write this it’s 10 degrees outside. We catch our plane in 6 hours and we’re California dreaming. Off to the Met.

I think we both have another blog or two in us so stay tuned. Oh, and more pictures are on the way.

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Sunday, January 16, 2005

We are back on home turf! We arrived late last night in Washington D.C. and are staying with Jacob's cousin. So nice to drink water from the tap! I can't believe how luxurious that feels. We just wanted to write a quick note that we aren't wrapping up the blog yet. We've still got a few weeks of travel here on the east coast to go. And we want to add a few last entries on our last few weeks in Honduras and thoughts on our trip as a whole, so don't stop checking in please. We also will be adding all of our photos of Central America.

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Friday, January 07, 2005

Happy 2005 everyone! What better time than now to apreciate 2004 and what it meant to us. A week from tomorrow Jacob and I will be back in the U.S.A. Hard to believe. I think it has probably gone faster for you who are reading this blog than for us. Jacob said he thinks this may well be the longest year of his life yet. I have to agree. That is not to say we haven't had a fabulous run and that 2004 isn't possibly the most memorable year of our lives, but it seems the more one physically moves the slower time goes. We've crossed a lot of miles this year and seen a lot of sights.

I want to thank everyone who reads this blog for being so supportive of us! It has meant loads having support and interest from our family and friends. I think this blog idea turned out to be invaluable. I am really glad we were able to share our experience so well. Part of what has made this year so memorable is the support from home, but also the wonderful folks we've met in so many countries. To all the travelers we met along the way who shared this experience with us, I hope you found a comfortable spot along the road to ring in the new year. Our doors are always open to you should you pass through California one day. To all the locals we've met: A todos que conocemos en el camino: son buena buena gente y no les olvidaremos nunca. Gracias por su bondad, hospitalidad y amistad. Muchos besos y Feliz 2005!

We spent the New Year in Antigua, Guatemala. The whole motivation for our chicken bus push across four countries in five days was to be in this place for Jan. 1, 2005. We are really glad we made it, couldn't have picked a better spot. We only spent one week in Guatemala, but I understand why so many of our friends have been captivated. Immediatly crossing the border we noticed that Guatemalans are really friendly people who like to joke and interact. The first hour there I was walking through a market and a man eating a taco turned to me with a big smile and said -Yum! We will need to go back there some day.

Antigua is a beautiful colonial city surrounded by volcanoes about a half hour outside of Guatemala city. It was packed with Guatemalans and travelers alike enjoying this gem of a city for the New Year. The plaza was lit up with white lights, streets were blocked off, bands were playing and there was no shortage of fireworks. We had a very good time. The only drawback was my wipe out on the way back to our hotel. We came around the corner to find about sixty boys in the middle of a full on fire works fight. It was chaos and hard to see anything because of the smoke. Jacob got hit in the chest with a bottle rocket and I decided to run. Well, the sidewalks in Antigua are old and choppy so I made it about five steps before falling chin first. Bruised my knees, scabbed my chin and chipped my front teeth. Luckily we've been hanging out with a dentist who has assured me my teeth are going to survive. It feels worse than it looks. A bit regrettable but unforgettable.

We came back to Honduras yesterday, our last border crossing if you don't count Miami. We'd had an amazingly lucky and good record, traveling an entire year without having anything stolen, not one centavo... until yesterday. The casualty... our discman. Actually, the irony of this all is that we have been robbed once before this year... our stuff in the garage at home in Oakland! But right now that is miles away and something we will face at a later date and I refer to our clean record AWAY from home.

It all happened on the chicken bus from Antigua to Guatemala City. We were taken on by a very swift two man/one woman team. They got it out of our backpack while it was sitting on Jacob's lap. We realized halfway through but by then it was gone, passed on to another member. When Jacob searched each of their bags he discovered they were all completly empty, they were just using them for cover and had stuffed our stuff somewhere else. We had no hope of getting it back but at least made a scene. We were bummed about the discman and more about almost squeaking by with a clean record but really, we are safe and it wasn't scary and we can live without that discman.

Hope you are all well and happy in 2005!

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