Driving

Posted on Aug 14, 2013 in Guatemala City | 2 comments

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Making the adjustment to driving around in the city hasn’t been quite as difficult as I initially thought it might be. One has to be pretty aggressive out on the road, but coming from Houston, this hasn’t been a problem. What has made navigating around most difficult is either the lack of street signs, or signs so small that they are impossible to spot before it is too late.

Our first real driving experience was a couple of weeks back when we drove out to a Walmart, which by the way, didn’t feel all that different from the Walmart at Dunvale and Westheimer, given that at both, Spanish is essentially the only language heard. We got out there with no problems thanks to some great directions we got from a woman at church, however, getting back is where we ran into some hiccups. I thought I was in the lane that I needed to be in, but suddenly, thanks to the aforementioned lack of signs, we found ourselves exiting to the left, when we needed to be one lane over continuing straight ahead.

This nice little detour placed us off of the main road and into Zone 7, which is a zone that we most definitely did not want to find ourselves in. We were completely turned around and initially had no idea what direction we needed to go in to get back to the main road. One could say that the area we found ourselves in was a bit sketchy. DiploMom later likened it to an episode from Homeland where a caravan was navigating through the streets if Beirut. Thankfully we generally were headed back in the right direction and were able to spot the main road that we needed to get back to. Needless to say, it was an uncomfortable 5-10 minutes. We ended up retracing our steps all the way back to the Walmart to then turn around and head back.

This past Friday we were returning home from dinner at the mall at about 6:30 (just as darkness was setting in) and got turned around in what should have been a fairly direct route back. We weren’t in a bad part of town, but found ourselves heading out of the city with no obvious places to turn around. And then it decided to start raining. We finally managed to turn around and were able to determine what street we were on. It was a street we knew, so we then knew we just had to keep going back in the direction we had come from and that would eventually get us back to were we needed to be.

A solution to some of these driving issues? I found out where I can get an SD card with a map of Guatemala for my Garmin GPS. The map is $120!! but after these two experiences, I know I need to put my male pride aside and buy the map. I am getting more comfortable getting around and it is easy to feel like I won’t need the GPS, but it will definitely be needed when we eventually visit Antigua and Lake Atitlan and it is good security if we get turned around in the city. I even have a nice mount that won’t have to sit up on the dashboard so as to not attract unscrupulous eyes when we are at stoplights or stopped in traffic.

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Pajamas

Posted on Aug 8, 2013 in Guatemala City | 2 comments

DiploTot likes it when she gets to stay in her pajamas all day long. And she still loves her Hello Kitty water bottle that her aunt gave her. One of these days there might actually be some teeth in that mouth.

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The View From Here

Posted on Aug 7, 2013 in Guatemala City | 0 comments

Here’s a shot looking out from the balcony in our bedroom. The water stays fairly cool in the pool. The best option is just to plunge right in to speed up the acclimation process. 🙂

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Settling In & Setting Records

Posted on Aug 5, 2013 in Guatemala City, Moving | 3 comments

Thanks to the groundwork that DiploMom laid a couple of weeks before we moved out of The Oakwood and to a very capable, if somewhat pushy realtor who can REALLY get things done, we moved out of our temporary hotel and into our house this past Friday. To already be in our permanent housing after not even being here for two weeks is essentially unheard of. Everyone at the embassy was shocked that we already had housing squared away. No one has gotten out of the hotel as quickly as we have.

Moving in was an exercise in logistics. We felt as if we were planning a bank heist that would fall apart if the slightest thing went awry. I got a ride from the hotel to the embassy to pick up DiploMom (DiploTot was napping and with the housekeeper we hired) with about half of our luggage. From there, we were driven to our neighborhood to drop me off to wait for some local embassy staff to deliver temporary furniture around 10 a.m., while DiploMom then returned to the hotel.

All of our temporary furniture arrived on time, so while I directed where to put everything, DiploMom was back at the hotel tying up loose ends and then heading back around 12:15 with DiploTot and the rest of the luggage in the hotel van. Around 1:30 our UAB shipment arrived and then our lovely landlord came by around 3:00 with flowers in hand to review a few final details about the house.

Next up was delivery of our Santa Fe. The car arrived by around 4:30 and that was the last piece of the puzzle to fall into place. We would really have been stuck if there had been problems with the car as we would be too far to walk to the places that were very close when we were at the hotel.

It was a very busy day, but an absolutely wonderful one. To say we are thrilled with the house would be an understatement. It feels so good to finally be back in a place that we aren’t moving out from in the next few months. We can now settle in and put down our roots for the next two years and enjoy this next stretch in our family’s life.

We are truly blessed and are thankful that this house was available. The neighborhood is beautiful and VERY safe and the house is more secure than anything one would find back home. We’ll be able to go on walks with DiploTot and DiploDog and there is a playground right across the street.

The house is perfect for guests and once we get our household effects shipment, (HHE), hopefully in the next month, we’ll be fully set and ready and the house will then truly feel like our home.

I’ll have a bit to say later about getting out and driving around for the first time and making our way to a Walmart and a PriceSmart, which is just like CostCo, the only difference being the name.

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