Friday, December 22, 2006

I Shouldn't be Allowed to Take Vacations

Although the night of our ill-fated canoe trip it rained, the next day was beautiful for our trip to Guatemala to see Tikal, the world’s largest compound of Mayan ruins. Because the ancient temples are in the jungle, we also got to see a variety of exotic animals including crocodiles, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, parrots, and quatis (furry small-dog-sized raccoon-like animals with long snouts and tails that I ran after with Matt’s camera—no doubt to the locals’ amusement. I’m sure I looked like some dumb tourist taking a picture of a squirrel or pigeon).

Our guide took us around the complex, explaining what each temple was for, what the inscriptions and dedications meant, the Mayan way of life, and the excavation process. Our group (Matt, me and three other Americans staying at our hotel), hiked up the different temples and observation sites, something we would have never been able to do in the U.S. Not only were we walking on the actual ruins, but the wooden steps attached to the temples were precarious and the stone steps of the ruins seemed incredibly dangerous. In fact, the guide told us that several people die every year due to falls and accidents.

That night it rained. The following day we stayed around the resort grounds to hike and explore. And it rained. So, instead, we spent the day reading, playing gin rummy, and doing sudoku puzzles. I was so ready to leave on Friday when we headed for the islands.

Finally! Sunshine and sand! Getting away from our cache of mildew-smelling clothes, getting a new toothbrush (the travel-sized electric one my mom gave me as an early Hanukkah present conked out on the first day), and relaxing instead of hiking, climbing, and (shudder) canoeing.

The two-hour drive to Belize City was uneventful, but the 1 ½ hour water taxi trip to Ambergris Caye? Oh yeah, it rained. And why would the boat have a cover? We sat shivering and wet, hoping it would be the last rainy day.

No such luck. It rained that night and all the next day.

I’m never coming to Central America again. The last time I tired to go on vacation was when Amete and I went to Costa Rica over 3 years ago. We were there for less than 3 hours when the rains started. The sweeping, all-consuming, pounding, never-ending rains. A front had rolled in and because it was supposed to rain constantly for the next week, we decided to cut off losses and fly to Florida. Maybe it’s not just Central America. At 20 when I went to France with a friend from college, we got to experience France during the coldest winter the country had seen in the past 100 years. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I shouldn’t be allowed to take vacations.

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