For the past 9 days we have been sailing in luxury (well, compared with what we are used to anyway) across the Atlantic and arrived safely in Dover early this morning. We have eaten way too much from the all day, all you can eat buffet, watched lots of films, played lots of volleyball...well Ian played, I watched, been to shows, danced the night away to 70s music and thrown in the occassional game of ping pong.
Now our wee adventure is over :o( But we have had the most incredible time and we have learnt a lot...granted not all of it is very usefull...
*Spanish (then we forgot it again while in the states).
*Haggling, which we both got quite good at!
*I learnt to use a spade and Ian a pick axe...but that doesn't mean we want to continue when we are home! (I know there are at least a couple of you reading this getting some ideas).
*We had more in common with everyone that we met than we had thought we would, regardless of where they were from, rich or poor.
*After all the worries about "dangerous Central American countries", the most unsafe place that we went was Time Square! And the only theives we encountered were banks, (£300 and an ATM card, grr!).
*Our paranoia levels have been considerably lowered. (Yes ok, that is more one for me than Ian, his were low to begin with).
*I learnt I can tan. In 5 months of sun I can range from brilliant white to magnolia. My feet on the other hand go brown...what is with that?!
*The best food we had was in the States...did not see that one coming!
*Eating out is one of my greatest pleasures, but every night is too much. We are both really looking forward to some home cooked food.
*We have done too much and learnt too much write down. But we definately have the travel bug. Where shall we go next....?We have also been wonderfully surprised at how smoothly everything has gone. Now I would love to say that this is down to my phenomenal planning skills (well, they did help of course! hehe), but most of the trip was made up as we went along. Ian has taught me to chill out and wing it...I am beginning to like it but how long I will stay this chilled out I don't know. Only a handful of really tiny things went wrong and we didn't even argue which is amazing given the 24/7 company we have been keeping!
I think that we are both agreed on the top 5 experiences that we have had...
5) Semuc Champey, Guatemala. This place was stunning! It was unlike anything we had seen before and swimming in these cool pools on a really hot day was perfection.
4) Climbing the active volcano Pacaya, Guatemela This was an insanely cool thing to do. The climb was tough, the top section of 2 steps forward, 1 back was totally demoralising! But when we broke through the cloud to see the smoking crated we were lost for words. The lava and molton rocks which were flying down the side the crater scared the s**t out of me but you were compelled to stand and watch it land only a few feet away. And bless Doug for going close enough to roast marshmallows! The view as the sun set took our breath away. What made it so much fun (sorry to be cheesy) was the fact that we were doing it with our mates from the house building. And Maddy...thanks for climbing up with me as the boys powered on ahead. It was nice to know I wasn't the only one finding it tough!
3) Swimming with Dolphins, Mexico This was an absolute dream for me and it lived up to every expectation. We both thought this was a really special day, although I think Ian was jealous when I got my dolphin kiss! ;o)
2) Swimming with Loggerhead turtles, Belize I am surprising myself by putting this above the dolphins but what made this so cool was the fact that it was totally unexpected. When we set off on the snorkelling trip we knew it was likely to see giant sting rays, eagle rays, fish and nurse sharks bt to swim inches away from all the above plus two HUGE turtles was just out of this world! We were both left a bit speechless that day!
1) House building, Guatemala Without a doubt, the month we spent in Antigua volunteering wins hands down. It was the most physically challenging thing we have done. There were times during the midday heat when we were totally exhausted, covered in dust, starving and seriously overheating, we wondered what on earth we were doing. But at lunchtime when we played with all the kids, at the end of the day relaxing with our friends and most of all at the end of the week when we handed the keys over to the family that all those hard moments were forgotten. It was the most humbling and rewarding experience of our lives. The builders who taught us were great fun, the families that we met were so genuine and the kids were too cute for words. The people we worked with, the friends we made, the cold boiled vegetables, the glorious sandwich days, the friends we made, the evenings in the Black Cat, the rum, the truck rides and orange peel fights, cementing and dancing to the dodgy 90s music, the pinatas with the kids and getting to know a community that is so different to what we are used to, made this without a doubt a totally unforgettable month. And who would have thought you would see me doing manual labour an enjoying it!!
Thanks to everyone who left messages on this blog, it really meant a lot to know we hadn't been totally forgotten, especially when we got a bit homesick, and it kept us going with writing the blog when we were really tired!
We have had the time of our lives! We have done things that were breathtaking, hilarious, great fun, exhausting, totally mad and sometimes dangerous and we want to do it all again!!
Cheerio all! :o)