Guatemala - attempt #1

So I cut off the tip of my finger on Sunday, so typing is a tad bit more challenging, but I'm determined to get our Guatemala trip documented while it's fairly fresh in my mind.   This post will be quite wordy, and very little pictures, so feel free to skim.  I just know in years to come, I'll want to remember the details.  
We were supposed to fly out Monday (December 15th) morning at 9:30 from the San Francisco airport.  Normally, we don't like to get to the airport too early (against my fathers teachings), but we decided to give ourselves PLENTY of time to get there, in case we hit traffic, and because we were flying internationally.  Usually it takes 2 hours from our house to the SF airport.  We left at 5 am thinking 4 1/2 hours was plenty of time............well, it WASN'T!!!  It took us 4 hours just to get to the airport!!! It was raining pretty hard, and for some reason no one knows how to drive in rain.  Good thing it never snows here, or it might be catastrophic.  Seriously, people!!  We passed over a dozen accidents and were completely stopped on the Bay bridge for almost an hour.  We kept praying and praying and telling the kids to keep praying that we would make it to the airport on time.  While we were sitting in the toll line, I called the airline and the only advice she could give me was, "just try to get there, we have NO flights to Guatemala for 2 weeks. If you miss this flight we can't do anything for you".  Great, no pressure.  We finally decided to get over to the Fastrack lane and suck up the fine (Adam had just barely put the new plates on the truck the day before, or we wouldn't have had to pay the fine).  Once we got off the bridge it was a little better.  We parked in short term parking (we were just going to pay the outrageous rate and park there) and ran to the terminal.  Just picture the Home Alone scene of the family running through the terminal.  Yep, that was us.  Even though we were frantically trying to get on our flight, I couldn't help but laugh as we were running through the terminals.  Unlike Home Alone though, airline rules are much stricter, and we missed our flight.  Once we go to the American Airlines check in counter we told the guy our flight leaves in 30 minutes, please let us get to the counter.  Without any sort of sympathy AT ALL, he told us there is no way you can get on your flight.  You have to be here 1 hour before or they will not ticket you.  WHAT!!!! Why didn't the lady on the phone tell us that (we were already at the hour mark then), we wouldn't have raced that last part of the drive getting there?!?!?  So, we went to the back of a VERY LONG line of customers who ALL had missed their flights, so we could talk to them about what to do.  It was seriously ridiculous......some people in line made it with 45 minutes to spare, but they wouldn't let them to the front of the line. Even worse was a lot of their flights were delayed, but they still wouldn't let them on.  I was on the phone talking with the company that booked our flights, trying to see if they could do anything for us.  
Anyway, we were told, because of the holidays, there were no flights leaving for Guatemala for another 2 weeks.  The lady at the counter was really nice though, and told us that she couldn't even look at our kids or she would cry, because she felt so bad.  She didn't want to be the one to tell them they didn't get to go on their vacation.  We left the terminal and told the kids that we wouldn't be going to Guatemala.  They started to cry, and I wanted to cry.  It was such a horrible feeling, knowing we had all these plans and all the work it took to get it all arranged, and all the talk about going for months beforehand.  As we were walking to the truck, Adam told me to just call back the booking company and book another flight with a different carrier.  It was twice as much money as the original tickets and didn't leave until the next night (at midnight, so technically 2 days later).  I was hesitant to rebook because of the price, but once we got there, and even now, I'm so glad we did.  It was such an incredible vacation, and like I told Leah when we were there, "Money spent on family vacations is never money wasted (although hard to swallow for a second when the bill comes)".  
We booked a hotel in San Francisco,  and that's where our vacation started.   We immediately headed for the indoor swimming pool and jacuzzi (had it to ourselves).  As the kids were swimming Ava exclaimed, "this is the best vacation EVERRRRR!".  Ha, guess we only needed a swimming pool.  After swimming for an hour or so, we met up with our friends, the Martinez family, for dinner.  Missing our flight was probably somewhat of a blessing, because I took Grant to the doctor the day before with a super swollen neck.  He had lymphadenitis, and had just started his antibiotics.  I was quite worried about it, and wanted to make sure it was healing before going to a third world country. I had a cough that had been lingering the past few weeks, but was getting worse and I was a bit feverish the day we were supposed to fly out.   I had the cough the ENTIRE time, even though I felt fine.  It was terribly annoying, and I'm sure I sounded highly contagious.  I know we were blessed though, because Adam gave Grant and I a blessing before leaving (my biggest worry was that someone would be sick on our vacation) that we would be healthy for our trip.  We all were healthy the entire trip, but THE DAY we flew back my cough got way worse and I ended up having bronchitis and pleurisy (which I am still recovering from).  So, the blessings obviously worked.  
OK, sorry, this is getting really long.  
The next morning we went swimming again and a lady was told to come tell the kids to be quiet, because there was a VIP meeting in the next room. She was super embarrassed and said she didn't really care if they were noisy.  She came back again and apologized and gave all the kids new goggles (pretty nice ones too).  They were still noisy, so we won in the end. :) We had to check out and our flight wasn't until midnight, so we filled up the rest of the day with fun things around San Fran.
Bobby gave us a pass to the aviation museum, so we spent a couple hours there.  It was a pretty cool museum.
Helicopter simulator
Cockpit of a747 - those planes are HUGE. 
After the museum we had Pho for lunch, went to the movies (Penguins of Madagascar) and then spent some time reading books at Barnes and Noble.  We were tired of wasting time, so we just went to the airport.  We got to the airport around 8:00 and had 4 hours to kill.  Because the flights were so booked, we were all seated separately.  Luckily some of the passengers rearranged for us so we could sit by the kids.  A couple times Noah had to sit by himself and he started to cry, so they eventually moved and let me sit by him.  Ava, on the other hand, sat between two big guys all by herself for one leg of the journey.  Our first flight landed in Dallas for a couple hours, then we landed in Panama, and had to spend a few hours there.  Then we boarded another plane that landed in Costa Rica and then finally Guatemala!!!  Noah thought it was the coolest thing ever to tell Leah and Sergio that he was in 4 different countries in less than 24 hours.  Our phones didn't work the minute we left San Francisco, so we couldn't call Leah with our arrival time (I thought I emailed it to her, but somehow she never got it).  They were trying all day to contact us, trying to find out what time we landed.  We landed in Guatemala and got our rental van and Leah and Sergie drove down to meet us and show us how to get to their house.  It was bedtime, so we all showered and went to bed.
American airlines did give us a credit for the original flight amount, so now we have airline miles that have to be used by October.  Hmm, where should we go?  Here's our list so far (we need to narrow it down and book something):  England or somewhere in Europe (just Adam and I), New York, Guatemala/Belize (tour Tecal and the other side of Guatemala, and of course check up on the Navas'), Korea was on there for a minute when we thought the Yangs might move there, but now it's off for the time being, now Chile and Peru have made it on the list........OK my traveling list is huge.  Better just close my eyes and point to a place on the globe.   What's your number 1 vacation destination?


Mary said...

This story will go down in history. What is your idea of a good vacation? I like to experience natural wonders...not such a fan of touristy places like NYC...in fact, I doubt we would have ever visited the city even if we had stayed in Geneva for years. What a great predicament to be in--airfare already paid, you just need to spin the globe, like you said. What do your kids think?

Ty * April said...

I have so many places I want to see that I don't know if I will ever have enough time or money. I want to see places how the people that live there see them. Yeah, I want to see the cool touristy stuff too but I want to know what it is like to live there. What makes the locals love the place.

The Yoder's Five said...

I'm so glad you got credit for your original tickets! I'm dying to go to Europe someday. Anywhere in Europe. I'm sure you'll have fun wherever you choose to go.

Lymphadenitis and pleurisy are just the icing on the cake. My word!!