Friday, July 31, 2009

Wednesday, July 29: Plane Purgatory

Our first day of our Adventure by Disney...woo hoo! We've been waiting for this for almost a year - and it's here!

We arrive at KCI by 8:30 am to check in for our flight. We're on Flight #NW1876 - KC to Philadelphia, with a connection in Detroit. We have no problems getting through security and getting onto the plane.

I did, however, almost inadvertently wipe out the flight attendant. Not on purpose. I had brought on a HUGE water bottle - and it fell - right in the aisle - as the flight attendant was rushing up to get us ready for take-off. She about broke her neck when my bottle tripped her up. Oops - I was mortified and very apologetic. The lady next to me says, "Just don't get near the pilot."

Our flight is 1 hour 23 minutes; it's pretty smooth, and we get our delicious cookies. When the flight attendant asks me if I would like something to drink, I said, "No thanks - I have water." She said, drily, "I know." Sorry - again.

When we land in Detroit, we have 60 minutes before take-off for our next flight to Philadelphia. Knowing that more cookies won't suffice my growing hunger, I send Dear Hubby to a Quiznos in the airport to grab us a quick sandwich, which we all wolf down in the boarding area. And then - we wait. And wait some more. And more. And I realize that we should have been boarding by now - what's going on?

About that time - an announcement - that due to "air traffic control" in Philly, we will not be boarding for awhile. We are to not leave the area, because they do not know when we will get the green light to board. It appears to be due to bad weather in the Philly area. So - we wait some more.

I look across the gate area and see a delicious Mexican restaurant and regret that we had wolfed down those Quiznos sandwiches. Darn it.

After about an hour or so, we get to board. The three of us are in Row 24 out of Row 26 - and there's no one sitting behind us. I look around and realize that our plane is maybe at 25% capacity....I haven't seen that empty of a plane in a long time.

The flight is supposed to be just over an hour long - and we seem to be up in the air longer than that. I don't have a watch - but something seems not right. And I realize we keep banking to the left - does this mean we're going in circles? You think? About that time, the pilot comes on and says that due to weather, we're in a holding pattern - and who knows how long that will last. We're told to not leave the area. (that's a joke). We circle...and circle...and circle some more. 30 minutes later, the pilot says its our lucky day and we get to land now - woo hoo!

I have to honestly say that in all of the flights I have ever taken - this was one of the worst landings I've ever experienced. We came down through the clouds - and a monsoon was hitting Philadelphia. The wind...the rain...the was awful. Our plan was tipping one direction to the next - I just knew that a wing would hit the ground before the wheels would. It was scary - you could tell the pilot was fighting for control up front. We finally land - wheels first, thank goodness - but it was rough. And it took forever for the brakes to work on the wet tarmac. Yikes. Scary.

The pilot then comes and says that due to the bad weather, there are no ground crew on the tarmac - and so we cannot approach the gate. We're stuck on the tarmac until the storm passes - which takes 25 minutes or so. Held hostage on the plane - about 10 feet from the gate - so close, and yet so far.

The rain finally subsides and we get to get off the plane - thank God - and we quickly get our luggage and head outside to meet up with Aunt Andy and Uncle Gene. They take us on a driving tour of Philly - we see monuments, churches, art, museums, Uncle Gene's old house, Betsy Ross's house - and then it's time for dinner.

We went to the Spaghetti Warehouse for dinner where I had some wonderful spaghetti and Dear Hubby had the 15-layer lasagna.

After dinner, we head to New Jersey and home for 2 days. Cousin John and his family came by to say hello - and then it was time for bed.

We're excited to be here - safely - and excited to see family.

Tomorrow: the Shore

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Off to Philly We Go

And we're off!

Our annual family vacation - and we're heading east.

Fly to Philly - spend 2 days with family in Philly... then, we check in with Adventures by Disney and spend 2 nights in Philly at the Hyatt Regency at Penn's Landing, touring with Disney seeing all that toury stuff. You know - Ben Franklin, the Bell, Independence Hall - cool.

We then hop on the Disney express and head down to Washington, DC for three nights. We'll stay at the Mayflower, a Renaissance Hotel. We'll ride a bike on the National Mall, go to the Smithsonian, the National Zoo - wave to Obama if he's out and about.

Another hop on the express - spend an afternoon at Mount Vernon - and then head to Williamsburg, VA. Daughter will get to dress up and live like a Colonial - how fun is that? We'll stay at a Great Wolf Lodge there - so we'll get wet. Really wet.

After 2 nights in Williamsburg, our Disney stuff is done and we spend 2 nights with family in Richmond, VA.

This was an ideal vacation for us because it starts and ends in places that we have family in - so we could "bookend" our trip with visits to cousins and such. Also, I liked the fact that it's fun - but secretly educational. Dear Daughter won't even know that she's learning stuff - how cool is that? I also loved it because Disney did all the work - set it all up - and I don't have to be in charge, for once. I've done enough planning this year to last awhile - I wanted a vacation where I just went along for the ride and let someone else do all the pre-planning and reservations. Bliss.

Now I just have to pack. I hate packing. I procrastinate like crazy when it comes to packing. Ugh. You'd think I'd have this down to a science, what with all the trips I take. No. I don't. I don't have it down to a science.

Sigh. I guess I'd better get back to packing.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

Some Beach

Ahhh....the joys of remodeling a house.

It's about as much fun as sticking needles under your fingernails. Not that I've ever done that - I can only imagine.

What's even more painful is remodeling a house when you have children. And a certain almost-10 year old daughter who fancies herself an interior designer. With all the skill and knowledge forthwith.

My 10-year old announced the other day that she has decided on a design scheme for her bedroom. (I didn't even know we were including her bedroom in the remodel - imagine my surprise. Silly me.) Yes, she's going for a "Caribbean Beach" theme. I have searched the design books since her announcement, and darn if I can't find any "Caribbean Beach" themes pictured. We'll have to wing it.

I did ask her, though, what she envisioned when she saw "Caribbean Beach" in her room.

She wants a "blue, ocean" carpet - complete with "wave cutouts" on the edges. Then, "a sandish" carpet (her words, not mine) next to the blue, ocean carpet - because duh, every ocean has to butt up to the beach, right? The ceiling must have clouds and the wall must have a bright, blazing painted sun shining down. And the walls - bright, neon turquoise. And a real palm tree in the corner of the room.

I'll supply my own sunglasses - I'll need them every time I enter her room.

Oy vey.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

A Mystery Shot in My Butt

I returned from Guatemala about a week ago.

I wrote an article for our church newspaper - which I published a copy of it here, entitled "How's Your Face?"

What I didn't mention in the church news article is just how sick I got in Guatemala.

I got walloped.

I mean - WALLOPED! Down for the count. Knocked out. Wanting to die.

We arrived in Guatemala on Friday, July 3rd. By Wednesday, July 8, I was feeling pretty sick. It began that evening after dinner, and kept me up - all night long. Severe stomach cramping - trips to the restroom. I self-diagnosed it as the wonderful parasites that live in the water of Guatemala and that I try so hard to avoid - but perhaps I hadn't been careful?

By Thursday morning, it was time to go to a Guatemalan clinic and see a doctor. He did a perfunctory exam and said it wasn't parasites, but was more along the lines of a gastric infection, brought on by either e-coli or salmonella. Lovely. Handed over not one, not two - but THREE medicines that I needed to take. Injected a long, nasty needle into my hip - which hurt - and I wasn't even sure what was being injected.

I laid in bed all day Thursday, feeling horrible - and feeling even worse knowing I wasn't working with the group and feeling like I had let them down.

By Friday, I was feeling more perky - so I headed to the worksite that day and proceeded to do TOO much and by Friday night was sicker than a dog again. (Do dogs really get that sick?!)

Came home on Sunday - was in the emergency room on Monday. I've been on more medication since. Feeling a little better - but not 100% - yet. Was told to rest and take it easy. Yeah, right.

I'm thankful for living in a country where our water is safe. And where we can easily get good, affordable health care (for the most part).

After 7 trips to Guatemala, this latest incident has caused me to seriously reconsider going in the future. It just isn't worth getting that sick.

Now - excuse me as I go take more drugs and take it easy. Ha.


How's Your Face?


Utz awich! Or, literally, “How’s your face?” This became our daily greeting while working last month in the village of Pachitulul, Guatemala. Thirteen friends and family members of Woods Chapel UMC traveled to this small village of 18 families on July 3rd, living amongst the indigenous Maya until Sunday, July 12th.

This was my 7th visit - and the first time that I took my dad. I was excited to be showing him the beautiful land that I fell in love with years ago.

Along the way, we encountered at least two snakes, three poisonous spiders, five hissing bugs of an unknown species (the locals called them “cigarron”), six nasty scorpions, and millions – no, make that zillions, of stinging, biting fire ants. I found out they're called fire ants for a good reason - OUCH!

We worked side-by-side with the men of Pachitulul, installing a water pipe, as well as learning words of Cakquichel – their local language. Our daily language lessons provided a welcome respite from the muscle-straining work of digging a water pipe. We learned that spiders are known as “um” – and ants are known as “suneek” – two things we tried to stay away from, but quickly found it was just impossible faced with the conditions we were.

The water pipe project was more physically demanding than any other project we’ve taken on in Guatemala. It involved digging a trench over 1,000 feet long, with depths up to 26”, through a rocky, boulder-strewn path that started out relatively flat but quickly took a turn up a steep mountainside through the thick, dense jungles of Guatemala. If that sentence seems long – imagine the trench we had to dig. It seemed to go on forever – and it was never what one would consider “easy” – but, by working together with our new friends, we accomplished it.

Once the trench was dug, we took electric wire and strung it through some piping. Along with the electric wiring, we laid PVC plastic tubing, gluing it together. After this was all laid, we had to bury the pipe.

We thought the burying of the pipe would be the easiest job we had encountered – but we sadly misjudged this. It rained for a day during our trip, and the rain turned our dirt into a nice, compacted layer of mud – which was physically demanding to dig through and put back into the trench.

To our great satisfaction – and disbelief – we finished the project in the time allotted. Our project will allow the community to pump water from nearby Lake Atitlan to their village, eliminating daily walks with jugs on the heads of the village women, to collect the water.

Our lodging was very nice – albeit a bit noisy, located where it was right in the middle of the (almost) daily market. We stayed at the home of Felipe and his wife, who showered us with warmth, hospitality and food. They served us delicious hot breakfasts and hot steaming coffee each morning. In the evenings, we’d be greeted with tasty, delectable dinners that encompassed the typical Guatemalan diet. I couldn’t identify what we ate 90% of the time – but it was all good.

At the worksite, the women of the village of Pachatulul would prepare a daily snack, as well as a hot lunch, for us. We enjoyed fish, crab, soups, vegetables, and fresh fruit and juices on a daily basis.

Evenings and days off were spent touring other local villages, as well as learning about MesoAmerican permeaculture. We met a 90-something year old woman who still hand makes over 900 tortillas on a daily basis – sitting in her dark, smoky cabin, it was hard for us to imagine this kind of life, but she delighted in showing us how to make our own tortillas. We met a lady who still hand weaves clothing – she patiently showed us how she works the loom and what the markings on the clothing mean. One day was spent going on an enjoyable boat ride across the wide, azul-colored lake, visiting three other villages for sightseeing and shopping.

All-in-all, it was an excellent trip. For the most part, the weather cooperated with us, and we were kept very busy – what with working, shopping, guided tours, sightseeing, and eating. Lots and lots of eating.

I had always heard of ancient rites of passages where people had to run across hot, burning coals – well, I do believe our group was initiated into Guatemalan rites of passage when we all ran through 10-foot long areas of stinging fire ants. We screamed and we ran fast – but we did it, much to the amazement of the local men. We “proved” ourselves on this trip – so if you ask us how our “faces” are, we’ll reply, “Se utz, malti osh” – or, “They’re good, thank you!”

Hiking along in Guatemala

Monday, July 13, 2009

Adventures of a Middle-Aged Drama Queen

Wow. Almost 2 months since I last blogged. What can I say? Life gets away. Buying a new house...going to Europe...going to Guatemala... Excuses, excuses. I should be better at blogging. At capturing the moments and the memories. I will try to do better.

Bear with me, oh faithful followers, as I get back in the daily (perhaps) habit of blogging.

In the meantime, I will be changing the name of the blog. Several people have said that my blog doesn't so much reflect "Confessions" as it reflects "Adventures." I guess I can honestly say that my life is adventurous - which is the way I want it. I like doing new things; living life to the fullest; and exploring the world. Sometimes it works out - and sometimes it doesn't. Along the way, some terrible things have happened - but also some really funny things, too. So, I guess it is all about the "Adventures" of a middle-aged drama queen. I will change the title today.

Thanks for being patient - and allowing me some freedom the last 2 months to have more adventures. I have a lot of catching up to do in this blog!