It was a challenging day as our 9-hour bus ride started at 7:45 a.m. and ended at 8:30 p.m. Guatemalans view time more like the Italians than the Swiss. The rain was coming down hard, the roads were steep, windy and rocky, and a kid had just thrown up all over the bus. Our kid. Decker wasn’t feeling well and publicly displayed what many of us wanted to do.
Descending down the bone-jarring road with our bus teetering on the edge of a thousand foot drop, I asked myself “Are we were putting our kids in too much danger.” Unbeknownst to me, Audrey was asking the same question. But, it was absolutely necessary that the kids didn’t realize our fear. The friend who suggested we come to Semuc Champay said the drive is miserable but worth it. We went to bed wondering if we would feel the same.
This trip is not without its risks and as a parent, I am constantly asking myself if we are crossing that line between responsible and irresponsible parenting. Do we hover over and wrap them in bubble wrap so they don’t get scraped up or do we let them fly over the jungle on a zipline in a third-world country lacking adequate safety standards?
I am not a psychologist nor an expert in parenting as I have only been doing this job for 10 years. However, I had two great role models with over 50 years of experience who showed me that it is ok to fall down and scrape your knee every once in awhile.
While some of you may disagree, I turned out alright. Just ask my mother. So, I use my parents as a guidepost to help evaluate some of my decisions. For those who know my parents, you may suggest I use different guideposts but this is what I know, where I learned, and what I respect.
Guatemala is a very hilly country. It seems one is always in view of a volcano and if the road isn’t going down, it is going up. And steeply. But this makes for beautiful terrain.
Like all Central American countries, poverty is high. Our Spanish teachers, who have well-paying jobs, make $100/month — less than what many of us spend at Starbucks in that same time period. We want the kids to realize you don’t need much to be happy but to also realize how much we have. Time will tell.
As we get ready to depart our second country and enter Colombia, I am reminded of some cool adventures we had while in Guatemala:
- Making chocolate from bean to bar in a small “factory”;
- Roasting marshmallows over a volcano;
- Walking through the markets and learning how the Mayans naturally die cotton;
- Studying Spanish in Antigua; and,
- Interacting with other travelers from around the world for advice on where to go.
To our friend who suggested we take the twelve-hour bus ride to Semuc Champay, we cussed your name as we were cleaning barf off the
floor of the bus and while in need of a bathroom on the long haul. However, after one day of swimming in the limestone pools and climbing through the caves in Semuc Champay, we are grateful for the advice. Sometimes long, painful journeys are rewarded with beautiful swimming holes at the end. Ours was.
Here are a few pictures from Guatemala.