Saturday, February 6, 2010

How to get from Todos Santos to St-Hyacinthe in 20 easy steps

Warning: reader may experience feelings of fatigue, frustration or déjà-vu. If you experience these feelings, please lie down and close your eyes, and the feeling will quickly pass.

1. Set alarm for 4:30 am to leave Las Ruinas. Take the still dark, dimly lit cobblestone road down the very steep hill to El Centro, and get on the bus where the person is yelling “Hue hue.”
Note: Attempt to ignore the fact that someone in the very crowded bus smells bad, possibly the larger gentleman in the row in front of you.

2. Drive 2 hours down the mountain to Huehuetenango, and ask for “la parada, por favor” when the driver yells out “La paserela”. Here, pass the 60L backpack that was on top of the bus and is now covered in white dust to the driver of the other bus yelling “Xela”, and get on.
Note: There is no chance to go to the bathroom, so try to ignore the fact that you already have to pee and that there is another 2.5 hours ahead of you.

3. Call when you arrive in Xela to let your host “Dad” know that you have arrived, then walk 5 minutes to the grocery store that is the designated meeting place, trying your best to look inconspicuous.

4. Spend a couple of hours greeting your previous host family, dropping off donated materials to the vet clinic for sterilization campaigns, and wolf down a quick lunch (because you haven’t eaten yet) made by your host “grandmother” at her comedor, before hopping on a coach bus back to Guatemala city.

5. Call your other host Dad when you’re on the bus, and meet him 4 hours later in Zona 1 of Guatemala City. Then drive another hour back to San José Pinula, grab McDonalds, have a shower, rearrange luggage, and go to sleep.

6. Wake up at 5:30am to leave to go to the Faculty at 6am. Hang out at the vet faculty for a couple hours working on trip report, before getting a lift from your host Mom to the airport.

7. Wait 45 minutes for the baggage check-in to open, (big backpacks are very comfortable to sit on), drop off bags, and then wait until 1pm to catch 2.5 hour flight to Miami.
Note: You realize going through security that when rearranging your baggage, you forgot to put your Swiss Army knife in your checked luggage, and grudgingly hand it over to the severe looking authorities.

8. Take flight to Miami, pass through US customs, grab fast food dinner, and work on trip report while waiting three hours between connecting flights.

9. Find out that connecting flight is delayed because the flight crew is currently on another delayed flight that hasn’t arrived yet.

11. Get on plane 2 hours behind schedule, and pull out onto tarmac.

12. Get announced that the pilot has exceeded his maximum number of continuous flying hours, and that we were waiting for a replacement captain.

13. Get announced that we had passed the curfew for flying to Montreal, and would be flying out the next morning.
Note: Word on the street is that they were just stalling, because hotels would be difficult to find with Super Bowl going on.

14. Wait in line to receive meal vouchers and hotel voucher for Holiday Inn. Flag down hotel shuttle, arrive at the hotel at 12:30am and check in.

15. Return to hotel desk because key doesn’t work. Get into your room, take a shower, and change into last pair of clean underwear that you luckily had packed in your carry-on luggage, because your checked luggage is still at the airport.

16. Set alarm (on both cell phones and on hotel clock) for 4:45am to catch shuttle back to airport.

17. Get back to airport, check through security, and look for flight on display panel. It's not listed. Walk through airport trying to find someone to direct you to your new gate. Finally find someone and get sent to the completely opposite end of the airport.

18. Get on 7am flight back to Montreal, arriving at 10:20.

19. Take bus number 204 to Dorval, wait 15 minutes in the cold for bus 211 to Lionel Groulx. (Note: You barely bat an eye when the kid that you’re standing next to in the bus- while you are wearing your 60L backpack, because there is no sitting room - throws up on himself). Take Metro from Lionel Groulx to McGill. Wait 15 minutes before taking a half hour bus to Nun’s Island to pick up bag of dirty laundry from boyfriend’s house that is there from previous trip to Calgary (boyfriend away for the weekend). Take same bus half an hour back to McGill, metro to Berri, metro to Longueuil, wait 15 minutes for bus, take bus 1 hour to St-Hyacinthe.

20. Walk into apartment, greeted by cat who gives you a scared look and runs away.

Total time from Todos Santos to St-Hyacinthe: 57 hours
Number of flights: 2
Number of times getting in an airplane: 3
Number of buses: 8
Number of hours of sleep: ?
Number of healthy meals: 1

Ok, it wasn't THAT bad!!

In short, the dog count with Andres wrapped up very well, with similar results to the stray count in May of 2009. Most of the dogs seem to be congregated around the cattle slaughterhouse and the two chicken slaughterhouses, with very few strays outside of these areas. I leave Guatemala with a red neck, some new language skills (I can now say such useful things in Mam as 'I have four white cats'), and a renewed appreciation for the beauty of the country and the people. And believe it or not, between the dog counts, sitting on the porch drinking tea, and the crazy amount of travel time, I did get some good work done on data analysis!

Thanks for following along once again!

No comments:

Post a Comment