“One’s destination is never a place
but rather a new way of looking at things.”
~ Henry Miller
I didn’t get the best sleep the night before meeting my parents at the Belize/Guatemala border. The final message relayed from your great aunt Martha confirmed that I was to meet Granny and Grumpy at 9am on the Guatemalan side of the border. After all of the mishaps in the previous 48 hours, I was unsure if they even made it to a hotel in Benque Viejo and if they would be alright crossing the border. I was up at 3am dreaming of all the problems that could have gone wrong, but I had to give your grandparents credit for making it as far as they did. I did a big load of laundry by hand, hung it to dry, whipped up some oatmeal, then hit the road. After a quick ride to El Cruce, I jumped on a collectivo bound for the border and was at least thirty minutes ahead of schedule.
With the weather forecast predicting highs of 33C, it was wise to have crossed the border in the morning. When I arrived in the border town of Melchor de Mencos, it was already 28C at 8:30am and the village had not yet fully come to life. It was a short walk across a bridge and I simply walked right into the open air structure where passports are stamped for Guatemala. Sure enough, Granny and Grumpy were just granted entry and turned around to see me standing there with the camera ready. The timing was eerily too perfect. Granny was so excited to see me that for no reason, she flashed me her “secret” money belt to show me her preparedness. Now that everyone standing around had all the information they needed to plan their snatch and grab, I hurried them back over the bridge to nab a collectivo Asher bound. At 9am, Granny and Grumpy were already drenched with sweat but smiling ear to ear, enjoying the full immersion of budget travel. Looking like easy targets for a hefty Gringo tax, we were first quoted a collectivo fee of $20US each, then it dropped to $15US, but I knew the actual fee was $3US and settled for nothing more.
Granny and Grumpy spent the entire hour on the bus recalling their adventure and not sparing any details. We laughed all the way to El Cruce where I nabbed a taxi for $2US which drove us just a few steps from our door. Our awesome two bedroom home is down a dirt road that ends at a footpath that climbs a steep mountain. As we approached our house, I told Granny and Grumpy that our house was at the top of the mountain. Granny stared at the near vertical path, and having flashbacks to the staircase at Maxim’s Palace, she said, “WHAT! We’re going up there?” I turned them around and pointed at your diapers hanging on the line next to the house we would call home for the week.
Granny traveled with her bathing suit on and since we were only steps from the sparkling water of Lake Peten Itza, we simply dropped the luggage off and walked straight to the water for a refreshing swim. Even Grumpy jumped in and we all savored the moment: the hot sun, the warm water, the local families fishing, the sweet children running across the flooded pier, and the horses grazing on shore. Granny and Grumpy had made it all this way and now it was time to relax and take it all in.
As I prepared dinner, Granny and Grumpy unloaded their packs and we were happy to see all of the special treats they brought. All-natural peanut butter, raisins, spices, tea and chocolate! And the spoiling didn’t stop there. Granny and Grumpy then unloaded Christmas presents, some of which were unknowingly unwrapped at customs for inspection and the giant 3kg chocolate bar was taken! But we were happy nonetheless and you were excited to get your new chewy toys, a new stack of books, and a colorful set of blocks from Grandma and Grandpa back home. Your mom received an awesome neon travel shirt and a new book and I also got a desperately needed True Masonry shirt with a book and chocolate bar. We were also very excited to open up our newest addition to the must have baby travel gear, the Pod Portable Highchair from Mountain Buggy. Asher, it has become more of a challenge to hold you during meal times and you desperately want to feed yourself which is difficult to do in the Jolly Jumper, so we reached out to Mountain Buggy since they have the best portable high chair on the market. They were happy to sponsor our adventure since it is their mission to help families live life without limits.
Anticipating all of the excitement, you went for an early nap but then stayed up for nine straight hours which is unusual for you. You were so tired that you almost fell asleep as you fed yourself in your new Pod Chair. In fact, we were all tired that night and were fast asleep by 8pm. We all slept well knowing Granny and Grumpy had finally arrived and we wondered if budget travel would impact them just as it has transformed us.