The Plan

“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned,
so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” ~ Joseph Campbell

Dear Asher,

Tomorrow, your Granny and Grumpy will board three planes to fly a few thousand kilometers to come see you. To be honest, your grandpa really isn’t all that grumpy now that he is retired but we needed a nickname that went well with granny. I guess it is also a reminder of the sacrifices parents make for their children. My parents made the decision to have one parent stay at home to raise us boys and my father worked for thirty years in a job that did not allow much opportunity for self-actualization. We can thank Bell Canada for his pre-retirement grumpiness. Having grandkids has added so much joy to their lives so the thought of taking you from them for four months was a difficult decision made easier with an invitation to join us on the road.

Putting their heart and soul into their children left little else for world travel. Since your mother and I have been blessed with the opportunity to explore more countries than we can count on two hands, we were happy when Granny and Grumpy agreed to join us for three weeks to see some of our favorite spots in Guatemala, Belize and Mexico. But getting here would not be easy.

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Granny is a wee bit directionally challenged and Grumpy is too proud to stop and ask for directions, so more often than not, when traveling in a new place, Grumpy drives as if he knows exactly where he is going and Granny, as his crocheting co-pilot, hasn’t the slightest clue if he does. Grumpy has lived in many cities in Ontario and knows them all like the back of his hand so as a family, we always knew Dad would get us there. However, recently on a trip home from Niagara Falls, Grumpy pulled off the highway. It was a crisp, dark, wintry night and we all just assumed he was taking a familiar back road shortcut. This “shortcut” continued in total darkness for over an hour and when we swerved up one side of a mini mountain then down the other, something just didn’t feel right. But other than the remoteness, there was nothing else to suggest we were totally lost. There was no change in speed, no looking closely at passing signs, no checking the mirrors, nothing. Just driving like he had driven this route a million times before. With his co-pilot darning in the ends of a granny square, I thought I had better ask the question, “Dad, do you know where you are going right now?” His reply, “not a clue.” WHAT? My dad has never been lost in his life…or maybe he has just been a wizard at hiding it.

My parents insisted that they could handle getting from London, to Toronto, to Houston to Belize City to El Remate, Guatemala on their own so I sent them detailed instructions, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. We did not plan for a problem to occur before Step #1.

Steps when you arrive in Belize:

1. Go through customs and pick up your luggage
2. Find a taxi and confirm the price is $25 before you get in
3. Go to Sea Breeze hotel in Belize City (not Seaside Hotel) as you have a reservation there. It will be
$30 for a room with a fan (I could not prepay this so you will have to pay)
4. After you check in and drop your bags off in your room, ask the front desk to point you in the direction to purchase your DIRECT BUS tickets to Flores from Mundo Maya Travels. The bus office is just 1 minute walk from the hotel. It will cost $25 for each ticket – you will need your passports to purchase the tickets. This is a first class bus so it should have comfortable seats and AC! If you think you may get car sick, try to sit near the front and bring a light snack (crackers). This is a 4 hour journey.
5. Eat some food for dinner that you have packed (PB on bread, fruit, banana bread, trail mix etc.)
6. Don’t walk around Belize City – watch some TV in your room, read, relax and get a good sleep
7. Eat a pre-packed breakfast (probably the same as the night before)
8. Be at the shuttle bus for 9:45am (remember it is only a 1 minute walk) – your shuttle leaves at 10am.
9. You will stop at the Guatemala border and have to pay an exit fee (US$18.75 each) and get your passport stamped.
10. You do not have to pay an entry fee into Guatemala but will need to get your passport stamped. They will probably only speak Spanish. If they ask or gesture for money say ‘recibo oficial’ (ray-see-bo oh-fish-ee-al). This means official receipt…this may deter them from trying to scam you. Although you shouldn’t have a problem since you are traveling with a bus load of people.
11. There will be very pushy money changers saying you need Quetzales. Just say “no gracias” and get back on the bus. We will have Quetzales and help you exchange your money at a bank.
12. When you start driving away from the border, remind the driver that you are getting off near the Tikal junction. They will drop you off at the junction for Tikal and we will be standing on the side of the road ready for big hugs.

Asher, if you can believe it, Granny and Grumpy missed their plane to Houston!!!

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9 thoughts on “The Plan

  1. Well written Jim! I am sure Asher will love reading this blog one day. Had I known about the directional challenges I would have volunteered to be an escort to get them down to Guatamala. Hopefully you will not have to play your Ukelele and sing for your suppers until they get down to you, although the Slee family band would probably do very well in the entertainment business. Have a fabulous time making wonderful memories together.
    Oh yeah, I noticed Costa Rica is not on your itinerary. I have a cousin who has guest rooms down there and I have heard it is a beautiful country, monkeys in the back yard and all. I guess it may require a return trip to check it all out.
    Looking forward to seeing pictures of Fran and your dad with you, Alyssa and Asher. Have fun.
    The Gall Crew

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  2. Tell them not to worry, everyone misses connections in Houston, man it can take 45 minutes just to taxi to the Hanger! Plus, It makes for a great story!

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  3. Dear Jim, Alyssa and Asher,
    What a great pleasure to follow your sunny adventures in the midst of our winter! I look forward to seeing Asher’s smiling face and admiring his progress via internet. Is he ever growing fast. It looks like you are have a wonderful time and making great memories. Thank you so much for including us in your travels. I can’t wait to see what you have planned for Grandma and Grumpy.
    Much love to all,
    Denise

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