I’ve been flying by the seat of my pants for so long that I don’t know how to start wrapping my head around the fact that time has run out. Today we embark on phase II of our long journey around the world. We spent most of the last 6 months couch surfing and living out of my beloved Toyota 4Runner as we covered enormous distances, 40 states deep, North to South, East to West in the mighty United States of America.
Now, after a short stint back in Canada to change gears, leaving behind our road tripping ways in exchanges for our backpacks (aka Turtle Shells!) our flight has come upon us. At least the business of packing has been extremely narrowed down. Six months ago April and I gave up most of our worldly possessions and our home.
I found an excellent “MASTER CHECKLIST” for people planning their first extensive or RTW (round-the-world) trip. Check it out: BOOTSNALL
And so the first 48 hours begin on December 2nd, 2014. It’s not a long distance, but it’s a long journey from Canada to Guatemala.
Load bags and self into car. April’s dad drives us to Toronto Pearson airport. She relishes the last moments with her family.
Trying to not be sick. A combination of the anticipation of flying plus knowledge that this is the very last chance I have to turn around and go back to a familiar place. I could always buy another car, rent another apartment and find a new job… 4:30pm
The nightmare begins. Despite the website claims about baggage limits on American Airlines, they are now demanding nearly $200 to check a second bag each. I brought loads of extra stuff knowing we that we have a semi-permanent base in Guatemala for the next 6 months. It was cheating a bit and now I am paying the price. Now I find myself ripping my bags apart in an attempt to amalgamate them… in the middle of the airport check in area. Normally, I am a self described packing genius, but there was no sense in throwing away a lot of the clothes and bath products leftover from the roadtrip when they could be used in Guate.
With a lot help from Lianne and the other sleuths at A.A. I repacked our bags and brought the extra bag through security as a carry on and then checked the second bag at the gate, for free!
Thanks to all the drama, I don’t get another chance to let my flight anxiety set in.
7pm – 9:45pm
We are ninth in line to have our plane de-iced before take off. I am sincerely hoping this is the last time I have to hear words like snow and temperatures below zero for a long time. It is a whole 35 degrees Celcius warmer at our layover destination: Miami, Florida. Most of the flight went by so quickly. Watched a cute movie about food and acculturation called 100 Steps Down.
Budget Travel Tip:
Bring all your own snacks as well as an empty water bottle. You can save a lot of money just avoiding the purchase of food and drinks at airports and on planes. Normally the water fountains are safe to drink from in most Western countries, but be sure to double check for your health.
Land in Miami. It’s 25 glorious degrees in the middle of the night, but we will never get to experience it. The air conditioning inside the terminal is blasting near the wintry temperatures we just left behind. Why?!!
Major bonus though, we stumble upon a launching party for a new route American Airlines just unveiled. They are serving delicious Brazilian appetizers and desserts plus juices and water. They may not serve food on the planes anymore but April and I just scored dinner for free 🙂
Midnight, December 03rd, 2014
We wandered around the seemingly endless terminal D. Almost everything is shut down or about to be. There are hardly any people aside from cleaning crew. We scout for a good sleeping area at the far east end.
For April, there is nothing that could stop her from getting the rest we both so desperately need. Not the cold, hard floor. Not the bright, bright lights. Not even the ceaseless loudspeaker announcements and the sounds of industrial vacuums around us.
Finally I give into the exhaustion, cuddling in between my bags and April for warmth and comfort that would never come.
Being a flexible traveler often means you can accept vouchers offered by airlines when they overbook your plane.
6am or something like that, Miami Airport Floor
The terminal is beginning to fill with passengers who have absolutely no respect for all the bums hugging backpacks in the corner. Try to keep sleeping as I remind myself that every dollar I save is one more day of exploring the world. One more day before I have to go back to work.
Budget Travel Tip:
When booking flights, look for major international hubs rather than smaller airports.
Approaching Guatemala City means doing a lot of loops during the decent. The city sits in the valley, surrounded by wild mountainous regions and active volcanoes. One of them, Volcan de Fuego (Fire Volcano) has been erupting for several days now.
The dark volcanic sands contrast beautifully with the lush forest. The depressing effects of winter; grey and cold, are instantly lifted. But don’t expect hot weather here either. Guatemala is known as the land of eternal spring. The capital city experiences year round refreshing temperatures and thriving fauna.
Our ride arrives at the airport to take April and I to my grandmother’s home. This beautiful property will function as our Central American base. A place we can always come back to between adventures, but more importantly, a safe place where I can continue to develop this blog and my writing. April will also be taking some film courses and improving her Spanish. We will be here until after the holidays, which I look forward to spending with other family members I seldom get to see.
I am lucky beyond belief to come from such a wonderful place. Guatemala is truly special and I hope to share it with everyone. While I am here, I will assisting others in planning their own journeys to this country, including a possible tour group in the early 2015. (Please email me if this interests you: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Our first delicious Guatemalan lunch. The food is definitely one of my top reasons why I love this country
Begin unpacking and the pressure and chaos of basically moving to a new country. I am thankful to have so much help this time but I have much to learn. The next move will be much more difficult. Without connections and common languages, our anticipated jump to Asia in June will be a whole new ballgame. Until then, I welcome the new experiences of this country and my new nomad status!
~ A Wise Tale By Karina ~
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