Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dios Mio it's Early!

It's Tuesday morning and I'm in Super Shuttle on the way to La Guardia at the ungodly hour of 2:45 am. What was I thinking booking a 5:45 am flight? Oh, that's right, I was using miles and that's the only one that I could get.

The flight left on time and by 10:30 am I have already watched the Caribbean islands drift past me and lush mountains rise up under the wing of the plane. As we descend to Guatemala City you can see the tops of the hills have been scraped flat and small tin and concrete homes have been built on every possible inch of the mountain tops with paths winding up and down the hills to connect one small community to another. Quickly the pathways get shorter and the number of huts/houses become greater. Suddenly the wings of the plane are almost scraping the clothes flapping from the lines strung in small clearings between houses and then the plane touches down mere feet from the last home. 

The initial view of Guatemala is that it is the poorest of cities thus far visited in Central America, but as the plane turns on the tarmac to head toward the terminal a skyline of 15-story buildings emerges with "Crowne Plaza" proudly emblazened across the closest of the city's buildings.

Inside the terminal it is amazingly clean and new. Most municipalities in the U.S. would be salivating over the idea of such a beautiful facility. 

Outside the terminal I catch a shuttle to Antigua for an amazing $10. In front of me is a student, Chelsea, from Vancouver Island. Chelsea has been in Central America for most of the year already and was just home for a short break and is now returning. She plans to spend a week or two in Antigua and then head to Costa Rica. Why? It turns out she needs a root canal - it's way cheaper to come here even with a $500 plane ticket. Plus she says the dentists are great and it's a good excuse to extend her stay until school starts again in September. Hmmmm....perhaps I should come pitch the Obama administration on medical travel program and just forget about overhauling our health care. 

Maybe I will go in for a cleaning and see how it goes. I wonder if I'll come home needing dentures?

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