The Best Parts of Traveling

It felt so good to be traveling again, but what made this trip so great? What do I like most about traveling? I’ve been thinking about these questions since returning home and trying, failing, to adequately convey how amazing it was to travel through Guatemala. Here are a few final thoughts, in no particular order.

Uno is universal

Culture

It was lovely to start our trip by staying in San Juan La Laguna with Josías, Esmeralda and their family for three days. They have been hosting travelers for years (I stayed with them in 2016) and welcome everyone as part of the family. The two boys now had a little sister, and Vicky Ann and I had lots of fun playing with them and getting our “grandkid fix.”

Brothers, 2016 and 2022

We were welcomed, after our very long journey, with the most delicious cup of tea I’ve ever had. We had bountiful breakfasts with fresh fruits, omelettes, bread, locally grown coffee, and more. Everything except the tropical fruits was grown in the village or nearby. On my last morning, Easter Sunday, I had hot chocolate with a special once-a-year Easter bread to dip in it. I’m still dreaming about it. It was so good I didn’t even need coffee that day!

The family, and the entire village, enjoy sharing their Tz’utujil culture with visitors. As we walked around the village each day, we were greeted constantly and could stop and have conversations with anyone. I’m never disappointed when I get as close to the culture as possible, which means getting away from tourist spots and staying with locals.

Pedro loved showing me his chickens and promised to teach me beekeeping when I return

Peace

I felt at peace in Guatemala. I often feel at peace when traveling off the beaten path. This feeling comes from leaving the pressures of home behind (until I get an unexpected text from Rhode Island!). It also comes from a feeling of safety. I’m often questioned about how safe it is in the places I travel to, yet many of the people I meet in my travels comment on how dangerous the US is. I can honestly say I never felt unsafe in Guatemala. Along with peace comes a sense of freedom. It’s a privilege to wake up and ask myself, “Where do I want to go today?”

People

No matter where I go, the most memorable experiences involve people. It’s so great to make new friends on the road. Some of the friendships are fleeting while others last years. Speaking Spanish helped me to connect with many people Guatemala. For some reason, it seems easier to have conversations in Spanish with random strangers than it is to strike up a conversation with a stranger in the US. I’m braver when I travel, though I don’t know why.

It’s impossible not to meet people when traveling with Vicky Ann

Besides meeting locals, Vicky Ann and I met a lot of fellow travelers. It’s fun to compare stories and learn from each other before going our separate ways. We even had a chance encounter at a rest stop on I95 driving home from JFK at 4:00 am. I recognized three women who sat behind me on the flight from El Salvador. Turns out they were teachers from Massachusetts on their own adventure. We had a lively early morning chat, shared stories, and hit the road again.

Kara (second from left) was also staying at Josías’s house while here on a semester abroad

Travel Buddy

I’m used to traveling alone and recognize that it has its advantages. However, this trip reminded me that life is just more interesting when traveling with Vicky Ann (anyone who knows her understands what I mean). I met more people, had more laughs, and bought more items than I would have had I been alone. Her sense of adventure, willingness to do anything, and complete trust in my ability to get us places (despite some harrowing trips) all make for a perfect travel companion.

She persisted during an unexpectedly long and steep climb to this viewpoint

Vicky Ann sees things through a child’s eyes – everything is new and interesting, and that helps me to better appreciate a culture I was already familiar with. And yes, everyone thought we were married.

Comments (10):

  1. Vicky Ann

    April 29, 2022 at 21:36

    Muy perfecto!

    Reply
    • Tim

      May 4, 2022 at 18:33

      Gracias!

      Reply
  2. Pamela Young

    April 30, 2022 at 07:43

    Thanks for sharing your wonderful trip and insightful reflections with us, Tim ~ and spot-on in your thoughts about Vicky Ann! Love you both!

    Reply
    • Tim

      May 4, 2022 at 18:34

      Thanks, Pam. Glad you came along for the ride.

      Reply
  3. Lori

    April 30, 2022 at 12:51

    Beautiful reflections, Tim!!! As always, Thank You for taking me along……I learn so much from you! I can imagine the laughter during this trip, so happy Vicky Ann was able to join you!

    Reply
    • Tim

      May 4, 2022 at 18:35

      Yes, lots of laughter! Thanks as always for following my journeys.

      Reply
  4. Betty Pacelle

    May 1, 2022 at 10:30

    Thank you for sharing another adventure in exploring a beautiful culture, learning and growing. You and Vicky Ann were brought together in life for a reason.

    Reply
    • Tim

      May 4, 2022 at 18:36

      Yes, not as husband and wife, but definitely great friends!

      Reply
  5. Jenny H.

    May 9, 2022 at 22:15

    Missing you two and Guatemala already! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
    • Tim

      May 15, 2022 at 21:45

      It was great fun hanging out with you and Willy. Hope we will see each other again soon.

      Reply

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