We now have one more Guatemalan water park under our belts. We've decided that, sure, there's a lot of culture, beautiful sights and other such stuff here . . . but sliding at breakneck speeds down slides of questionable construction with other Guatemalans could perhaps be the best way to bridge the cultural gap. But I guess I should start from the beginning:
The trip back to Chiquimula from Honduras on Friday was actually a pretty pleasant journey. The first twenty minutes to the border was hellacious - the mini van was packed with some 20 people, and it was pretty damn hot. However, walking across the border in the other direction was incredibly easy and involved no money (either that or I just walked through without paying). On the other side, I was greeted by a guy named Jose who had a minivan he was proposing would be perfect to get me to Chiquimula. I've been in multiple mini-vans here, and they DO NOT accomodate my legs in the slightest, so an hour long trip sounded horrendous. I explained that I liked the idea of the Pullman bus parked up the road that would be a lot more spacious. He argued that the bus moves like a tortoise, and that I could sit in the front seat with he and his wife.
And (thankfully) the tortoise argument won out - if he had said anything about his van being "rico", I probably would have toured the country with him. We got to Chiquimula in an hour, I was completely comfortable in the front seat with the throngs of humanity packed in behind me, and I had some pretty fun conversations with Jose and his lady. Plus, from the front seat I got perhaps the best perspective of a man taking off his pants on the side of the road, and, naked from the waist down, slashing at his pants with his machete. The van erupted in laughter and talk of murdering a pair of pants, but with a steady pool of sweat gathering on my seat due to the hot sun on my legs, I could maybe understand just a touch.
I had intended to meet up with our friend Charley at the Hotel Hernandez in Chiquimula, but by 7:30 he still hadn't showed, so I decided to go watch the art-house film TAXI (with Jimmy Fallon and Queen Latifah) . . . in Spanish. Gotta say that no matter how much my Spanish has improved, I can't understand a friggin word of someone speaking Spanish while at the same time trying to sound like Queen Latifah. Impossible. The next morning I was a little unsure what my course of action should be, so I got some coffee, checked my e-mail and found that Charley had gotten stuck in a town called Jalapa about four hours from Chiquimula and that he would be in by noon on Saturday. So I decided to a) not leave town and instead loaf around for a while and b) try my damnedest to get Sam to meet up with us in Chiquimula rather than hooking up in Puerto Barrios the next day.
So, after spending a bit of time in Chiquimula on my own, suddenly Charley shows up at Hotel Hernandez around noon o'clock, and Samantha comes wandering in around 6:15 p.m. . . . one big happy family. Oh, the unadulterated English spoken. The crappy Gallo beer. Definitely an evening to remember.
(Sam's interview went quite well, and she'll know whether or not she's in within two weeks!!!!!!!!!)
Which brings us to Valle Dorada. The three of us discussed our plans heartily last night and determined that it sounded like a lot more fun to go to the Valle Dorada water park in Rio Hondo today and then travel tomorrow rather than traveling like mad immediately. Like true experts, we hunted down a bus heading to Puerto Barrios that would drop us on the side of the road by Valle Dorada (our tactic being: ask one person, he/she points, walk a ways, ask another person, he/she points, walk some more). We enjoyed luxury seats in the back of the bus, a fantastic day of sliding (didn't quite compare to Xocomil, but whatever, it's hot as hell here), and an equally entertaining ride back on a bus we flagged down heading for Esquipulas.
An so here we are: we plan to head out tomorrow for the town of Livingston on the Caribbean, so more to come . . .