Journey Home Part 1: Leaving Guatemala

I saw my first murdered person the day before we flew to Canada.

We are applying for residency in Guatemala and so I was obliged to go to the official's office to sign some papers. I took a taxi. The driver had to redirect himself several times because of impromptu traffic barriers put up by the traffic police. When we got to within a block from my destination on one of the largest and busiest one-way streets in Guatemala City, three of the six lanes were closed because a man was laying dead on the street on his back. Someone put a newspaper over a bloodied head. My estimation is that he was shot in the face.

The taxi driver said that about 15 murders are reported in the paper each day for Guatemala City. Many of these are theft related.

The image of the corpse is etched permanently now in my mind.

The trip to Canada the next day went fine. Blaise did tremendously well. The most trying part was our 70 minutes in Houston where we stood in line at U.S. Immigration, picked up our 4 large pieces of luggage (along with our 2 carry-ons, car seat, 2 "purses" and 18-month-old boy), stood in line at U.S. Customs, checked our baggage again, passed very slowly through a Homeland Security checkpoint then checked in at our gate which was 2 wings away. The entire time, Blaise's diaper was leaking peepee onto Amber and me (note to self: remember to carry a spare shirt when traveling). Blaise was changed at the gate, just in time to board with the other travelers with small children.

A note on Homeland Security: It's not a pleasant experience standing in stocking feet with my pants falling down demonstrating that a video camera works, removing a laptop and a desktop computer from my carryon luggage, and at the same time asked to show my boarding pass and passport. Punks.

Mom was there to pick us up after 7 hours of flying (plus the hour in George Bush International) with our winter jackets.


Sirdar said...

Glad you made it back safe and sound. If you remember I found my neighbour who committed suicide so I know what you mean by an image being stuck you your head. Glad it wasn't someone you knew.

I haven't been to the States for quite some time. I am not looking forward to that experience.

Debby said...

I'm so glad I was there to pick you up after that harrowing experience. One of my favorite memories (out of hundreds during your visit) was our visit at the kitchen table into the wee hours the night you arrived....time to talk and for you to unwind...
Another favorite is Blaises' delight when ever you or Amber walk into the room. "Mama! Papa!" as if he hadn't seen you in days! That is etched in my mind forever.

Zaak said...

I feel much older traveling now. Traveling is something I endure rather than look forward to.