As yet another long-term stay at Lago de Atitlán comes to a close – long in the scheme of travelling, short in the scheme of most of the people we know at the lake – I figure it deserves a little bit of wrapping up. The blog has been a bit different this time around, as the usual where we are and what we’re doing loses any meagrely enticing quality they might have had once we’ve been to the same place 5 times. I went mostly with detailed ramblings on particular occurrences or random happenings that caught my attention (see: Party, Sausage). So why not recap our most recent visit in a style befitting this haphazard approach? Random thoughts and memories specific to Guatemala 2014. Plus, no need to make connections, use segues, or even proper grammar. Huzzah.

Being joined on many of our daily swims by Trinette, and having her and Laynni continue their conversation throughout the swim (clearly we keep the exertion to a minimum).

Daily afternoon “clear the head” walks to Tzununá – not necessarily a new development, but jogging up the big hill at the end was (staying in soccer shape in your 40’s ain’t about strolling).

Our even less frequent excursions to eat in restaurants. Down to just once a week on average. Let’s chalk it up to Laynni’s delicious tortilla lunches, shall we?

A long stretch of excessive wind starting toward the end of November. It generated waves that messed with our swimming and lowered the comfort bar of the boat rides, regularly screwed up our internet (hello Guatemalan technology), plus there was one day when some dirt blew in my eye.

The Great Fly Tape Experiment of 2014. Package of 3 for less than a dollar. German writing on the package, not Spanish, strangely. Had a distinctly 70’s look to it also. Made sense when the first one disintegrated as I pulled it apart. Being more careful with the second, I got it hung up, although it stayed fully twisted like a really long, really dirty straw. After 4 days we had successfully captured one fly and one small dragonfly. Experiment currently on hiatus.

Friends we met here, Ken and Trinette, turned out to be international television celebrities, not to mention highly qualified specialists in House Hunting. Internationally. It was fascinating to get a look behind the scenes at all that goes into producing a mere 22 minutes of must-see armchair traveller TV. Plus, there’s even a small chance I will make it on-screen gleefully accepting a hunk of barbequed chicken from a smirking Ken. Welcome to the celebrity life, bitches!

After years of obsessively watching every cooking show on TV, yet somehow never feeling inspired to convert any of that knowledge into practice, Laynni suddenly and inexplicably embraced the adventure of learning to cook new things (I still don’t even eat new things, let alone make them). Her chicken soup was excellent (even if it had enough meat to give a vegan post-traumatic chicken disorder), and her chili has become a fan favourite around these parts, both for the way it continues to improve, and the ease of which jar of leftovers come to the rescue on low motivation days.

Spent October re-watching Game of Thrones from the start, then in November switched over to the 6th and final season of The Sopranos. That’s right, we’re probably only a couple months away from people finally being able to bring up those lovable gangsters in casual conversation without being subjected to my panicked shushing, desperately pleading that they not say anything because I haven’t seen the ending yet! I love it when Christopher does heroin.

Laynni discovered Lana del Rey last year while painting with our niece, Kenzie, and now she of the carefully chosen nom de guerre has become Laynni’s go-to musical choice during any lull in our playlist shuffle, as well as every afternoon during cool-down yoga. Forever forward even a few bars of “National Anthem” are sure to take me back to lake sunsets and sitting at the computer sweating after running stairs.

We spent a considerable amount of time planning our post-xmas trip. In Bali it was lining up a great house in Ubud to spend a month mainly stationary, and finding ways to fill our couple of weeks on either end. Hut space on New Zealand’s top hikes (i.e. Milford Track) need to be booked up to a year in advance, a small piece of necessary planning that set in motion some probably unnecessary extremes in that department. Steve Carell’s publicist couldn’t have scheduled us more rigidly. Then there is what might have been a very casual, spontaneous 10 days in Australia, until we realized we had booked our flight into Sydney for Easter Sunday, with our entire visit coinciding with school holidays and the inevitable migration of the rugrats. Once again, a hotel booking or two probably wouldn’t be amiss. Which brings us to the Philippines. I’ve been waiting until Typhoon Hagupit (aka “Ruby”, for some reason) subsides before getting started on that one, out of respect, and because I’m pretty sure most of the country is still without power anyway.

The neighbours in the house below our apartment spent their time while we were away acquiring 2 extremely yappy and annoying cocker spaniel-type dogs (pretty sure every dog in Guatemala is “sort of” something). Most of the time we’ve only had the pleasure of listening to their shrill barking, until the other day when I happened to be having very little luck obliterating this one particular fly, leading to me to the unwise conclusion that by wildly flailing at the air I might eventually connect flyswatter to fly, effectively ending our encounter in a satisfactory fashion. As it turns out, unfortunately, the fly remained safe and free to gaily traipse about our apartment, pissing me off immensely, while the swatter part of our flyswatter suddenly took leave of the rest of the contraption, flying out the window, bouncing off the glass ceiling (not a metaphor, regrettably) of the apartment below us before falling yet further to land in the mess of shrubs and undergrowth in our neighbour’s yard. Well, after what I felt was a suitable amount of time spent staring at the now basically useless shaft of twisted wire in my hand with a dumbfounded look on my face, I regrouped, trudged all the way down to the lake, around the fence, all the way back up the stairs of the neighbour’s yard, tentatively called out to minimize the alarm of any inhabitants at encountering a strange gringo brandishing a short metal stick. No answer, other than the onrushing ferocity of two enraged cocker spaniel (types) who, despite their apparent lack of guard-dog vigilance, seemed belatedly quite put out by my presence. Luckily they turned out to be students of the ever-popular canine fighting style of “I am going to bark my fool head off and pretend to attack you, but if you make even the slightest movement in my direction, pointy metal stick or not, I am going to literally shit myself and run for the hills. However, if you turn away, for even a fraction of a second, I am going to unleash all the fury of the seven hells on the back of your heels. Unless you turn around, of course, then I’m getting the hell outta here.” I never did find the rest of our flyswatter.

In other news relevant to our 2014 stay:

It took several years but I finally came up with the idea of turning the desk sideways to face away from the sun rather than choosing daily between squinting at the computer, wearing sunglasses indoors, destroying my back writing while on a bar stool, or just complaining and having a nap.

Spending a few hours of everyday writing about riveting topics such as exciting market neutral options strategies and the heinous tax implications of strip bonds.

Something else that also apparently took me several years, and countless tentative mouthfuls of rancid milk – to discover was that shipments of fresh milk arrive on Friday. Every Friday. Very simple. So stop drinking that lumpy milk, fool. Besides, couldn’t you tell it was bad just by looking? Why do you always insist on tasting it “just to be sure”?

Distant Volcán Fuego, typically overlooked in favour of the three large ones right on our doorstep, managed to work its way into the conversation this year by erupting almost daily. A faint boom, or low, slow rumble, would draw our attention southeast to see the latest plumes of dark clouds pushing skyward like a slow-motion ejaculation.

Along the same lines, there were a lot of earthquakes the last couple months. Which feels very strange to say as someone who grew up in Saskatchewan, with the closest thing to an earthquake being dad letting the bucket of the tractor hit the ground a little too violently during his daily winter ritual of pushing snow around the yard from one random pile to another, newer, random pile. None of them did any real damage in our area, only rattling windows alarmingly and causing me to cock my head inquisitively while lying in bed half asleep trying to piece together a plausible reason why I just rolled over without even trying, or bothering to steal any of Laynni’s sheets.

We were treated to a terrific Thanksgiving meal by some of our friends, Americans, which probably explains why they insisted on holding in late November.

Got up yesterday to discover a snake emerging from our bathroom. That was a new one.

With just a few days left before heading back home we experienced a wonderfully telling Canadian v. Canadian encounter to whet our appetite for our return. A couple friends of my sister’s were staying close to us in Guatemala for a week and we had made plans to meet them at noon to head over to San Pedro. They showed up before 11. We were fairly surprised, but didn’t want to be rude and ask why they were over an hour early. They, having had their phones mistakenly not update to the new time zone, thought it really was noon. Yet they were too polite to inquire as to why we didn’t meet them at the gate like we were supposed to, or why we seemed to be intent on wasting even more time, or why we made it sound like such a novel idea that we “could head out soon, I suppose”. We can be a painful nationality at times.

See you all at home!