February 26, 2012

Holidays in Central America

Guatemala City, Guatemala

We arrived in Guatemala City just in time for a New Years Eve party with Ben's old friend, Noah Sapone, an elder he trained on their mission to Ecuador 12 years ago.  They definitely had a lot of catching up to do!  We met his lovely wife, Linda, and  fun  and friendly family who all tried their best to speak English to me; I tried to speak Spanish and we all ended up speaking in sign language instead.  They were so welcoming and accommodating.  We were fed very, very well and of course we had to light fireworks just like everyone on our street, in the neighborhood, around the city and throughout the country!  We heard fireworks for days-- scared me to bits when there would be a "BOOM" out of nowhere in the middle of the day!

On New Years Eve it is tradition to open a few last Christmas presents.  The family did their exchanges and Noah and Linda even included Ben and I, giving Ben a traditional sweater and me a necklace.

Traditional New Years Eve cake.

Noah is also known as Bishop Sapone. Although tired from a fun night of partying, we enjoyed attending the ward with their family on New Years morning.

Ben and I attended the beautiful Guatemala City Temple.

We shopped at the food and artisan markets downtown...

We enjoyed the old architecture of Guatemala City...

We celebrated Ben's 32nd birthday!
Because of the Sapone family we saw Guatemala City in a way we never could have as "tourists."  We had such a memorable experience and can't thank them enough for their hospitality and friendship.

Believe it or not, our trip is not over yet.  Stay tuned!

February 24, 2012

Coldplay... in Paris!

So he said it was just a card.  
Frankly, that is all I really want.  
My love language is "words of affirmation." I appreciate the repeated "I love you's," love notes found in random places and the detailed explanations of why and how much he loves me.  Ben knows this but he can't leave it at just a note, and I can't complain when he goes beyond that.  Sometimes he goes WAY over the top; he likes to do things in a BIG way; he likes to surprise me and he is very, very good at it.  

So I opened this adorable card (i'll let your imagination tell you what it says on the inside) and out falls two sparkly tickets to Coldplay!  I couldn't be more excited--they are one of my favorite bands.  Two years ago he took me to Coldplay in Monterrey, Mexico for Valentines day.  So when he urged me to figure out where the concert was this time, I immediately thought Monterrey again.  I finally figured out that "STADEFRANCE" means that we are seeing Colplay in concert in Paris, France! 

So the countdown is on.  September will be here before we know it and I must develop an extensive itinerary for our travels throughout France.  I studied French in High school so I'll just need a little (more like a lot) of brushing up on the language before we go.  

Such a weird video and I love it...

February 14, 2012

Love note

Excuse me for a moment; i'm going to interrupt the "Holidays in Central America" blog series. Which by the way, is taking me longer than ever to record, but it is finally almost done, thank heavens! 

I normally try not to put too much of the gushy, romantic, love stuff on the blog but there are DEFINITELY exceptions on certain days.  And today is just one of those days...

Dear Ben,

Remember this picture? I sent it to you via text message after I received the most gorgeous bouquet of flowers from you after our first date, which technically wasn't a date. But somehow you tricked me and it OBVIOUSLY worked. (Hello, i'm your wife now.) It was the flowers after the fact that really sealed the deal.  Your little cousin, Sophie asked me what my favorite flower was, I answered, "all of them!" The next day flowers, of every kind, showed up at my door... I know you deny it but you had to have put her up to that! 

This picture represents the start of something remarkably wonderful.  Us. Three years and eight months later, here we are celebrating Valentines Day as a happily wed couple.  Thinking back, it seems like so long ago and yet somehow it seems like just yesterday. It must be because you still make me giddy, you still make me laugh, you still get the door for me, you're still full of surprises, you still treat me so special...  I couldn't ask for more, I couldn't be more blessed, I couldn't imagine life any other way. Nobody has it better than us. ;) Thank you and I love you.


February 12, 2012

Holidays in Central America

Copan, Honduras

Copan, Honduras, a quaint town near the border of Guatemela, with narrow, hilly cobblestone streets and home of the ancient Copan Ruins.  

On our way to the Copan Ruins we saw about 15 parrots flying through the lush, tall jungle surrounding the ruins.  We were lucky to catch them during feeding time so we could take close up pictures.  The little kid in Ben came out when saw the parrots swoop down from the trees and perch themselves down right by him. He couldn't get close enough, he was so excited, so much he didn't' want to leave. 

Copan is one of the most spectacular city's of the ancient Mayas civilization. It is said that Copan formed part of the three largest and most lavish cultural centers of the world.  We could see that this is clearly true because of the amazing architecture and hieroglyphics there.  We explored the ruins for hours; it is a huge complex with several plazas and temples.  There was so much to see!  We were taken back in time to another world and culture, so very different than our own...

After spending the morning at the ruins we walked back to the town where we were pleasantly surprised to run into the LDS missionaries! We called out to them from across the street.  Of course, we just HAD to take them to lunch and make sure that they were well fed!  It was a fun time visiting with them.  They then showed us the way to catch a bus to our next stop on our journey, Guatemala.  Stay tuned!

February 06, 2012

Holidays in Central America

Siguatepeque, Honduras

Hello Honduras.
It was quite the trek to get here... we woke up before the sun to catch the first bus out of Nicaragua so we could get an early start on our 8 hour journey.  The next bus we caught was more like a chicken bus than a people bus; I sat on a bag of rice with a child on my lap most of the way.  Just when we thought not one more soul could fit on this overcrowded bus, we picked up more, and more, and more passengers!  We thought the chicken bus was bad but the next was even worse- for hours we sat on buckets in between the last seat on the bus and the window-usually the storage area. We were car sick and squished. What a ride.

After our long, uncomfortable day of traveling we finally arrived at the Honduras border.  There, we met a family from Houston, Texas who were renewing their Visas since they are living in Honduras for business. They turned out to be the good Samaritans on our travels! They let us hop in their car and travel the 2 hour drive to Tegucigalpa.  It was the most comfortable drive and the most fun conversation we had all trip since I could finally speak English and not just listen as Ben speaks Spanish all day long.

Ben and Mauricio

Brit and Angelique
Their cute, little boy, Max, is zonked out in the car.

The drive was gorgeous and we stopped at this fruit stand along the way to grab some fresh and delicious snacks!

Our "good Samaritans" took us to the central bus station where we later headed to Siguatepeque.  They also called ahead to a family member who lives in Siguatepeque, telling them that we would be arriving later that evening and that we needed a place to eat and stay.  Suprisingly, their uncle owned an Italian restaurant in town and also had connections at a local hotel!
The food and lodging was the BEST we had all trip. Top Notch.  
We couldn't have ran into a better couple at a better time.

 Here we are at Pulhapanzak, the largest waterfall in Central America, dropping about 140 feet (only 30 feet less than Niagara Falls).  The waterfall is hidden away in the jungle; only a handful of tourists make the trek there, but once there it is a beautiful sight, and well worth it! Pictures just don't do justice. 

A tour guide took us to explore the falls and the caves behind them.  To reach the caves we walked along a trail that starts at a wooden platform, then jumped into some pools in the river under the falls and climbed over boulders while being pelted by the water from above.  It was quite intense! Once inside one of the caves I sat and literally shed a few tears (it was easy to hide, considering I was drenched with water). I was afraid to leave the cave and brave the falls again, pounding down on me, blinding my vision and altering my steps.  But the tears quickly went as I realized the amazing and surreal scene I was in.  The natural beauty and power of the waterfall was amazing to be surrounded by.  Ben was able to calm me down and help me to take it all in.  

At a certain point, about 30 feet high, we jumped into the waterfall. It was a thrill and adrenaline rush, scary but fun and I may have hesitated quite a bit but I'm glad I went through with it!  Too bad our pictures and video turned out so unclear-- we were so close to the waterfall and the mist was so thick. 

Pulhapanzak was the most exciting and adventurous stop along our travels through Central America and we look forward to coming back again one day.