Yesterday we drove from upstate NY to DC. Mapquest said it was supposed to be a five and a half hour drive, but it lasted over eight hours, thanks to fog, inept map-reading (or map note-taking) skills, and a confusingly built road. When we pulled into our Super Eight hotel, it was after nine. The youngest one walked through the lobby door and promptly collapsed on the floor, fast asleep.

waiting for the shuttle

We woke up at 2:30, drug the children from their beds and headed to the airport. Everything, the whole day, really, went as smooth as could be. Sure, my older son had a little battle with his chocolate milk (and ended up wearing some of it) and my younger son’s backpack ripped (a little) and my younger daughter came fairly close to having a panic attack, but we did our deep breathing and soldiered on.

Despite her extreme anxiety, at the point of departure my youngest daughter was nearly shouting with excitement. She didn’t even seem to notice when the plane got tossed around for a bit. The sun came up and the kids ate their bagels and drank their juice and ate the candy and gum their cousin had packed up for them.

For the second flight, our seats were spread out all over the plane. My husband talked to the people at the desk and made arrangements so that we could each sit with one of the younger children. We gave the older kids their boarding passes and told them they’d have to sit by themselves. (And then a kind gentleman swapped seats with my daughter so she wouldn’t have to sit between strangers, bless his heart.)

I sat with my youngest. He talked the entire time. About the wings, about crash landings, about soda, about his seat, about his candy, about Guatemala—it was intense. He’d alternate between studiously peering out the window and then suddenly panicking at the height and slamming the window blind shut. “It freaks me out, Mom!” he’d squeal, burrowing his head into my arm and squeezing his eyes tight. 

And then we were flying over Guatemala’s distinctive, patchwork mountains. My son was enthralled. “There are gardens down there!” and, “It’s like a pattern!”

We whipped through customs (once we filled out all the paper work)—they didn’t even check our bags—and then we were outside in the warm air, greeting our country reps, getting (mildly) harangued by vendors (my younger daughter was smitten with the constant opportunity to buy, buy, buy, oh dear) and piling into the van.

We ended up at a guest house. The hospitable owners—one speaks English but the others don’t—fixed us a fabulous lunch of soup, tacos, rice, and fresh papaya and then worried when some of the children didn’t eat too well.

We crashed on our beds for a couple hours (some slept harder than others), and then some of the kids and I went on a little walk around the block (and through the grocery store). We had a brief meeting with one of our reps and a future non-English speaking childcare helper (for these next couple days when we’re in the city), and now it’s almost time for supper.

Right now, my older son is playing chess with a Guatemalan boy. Neither speaks the other’s language and both seem happy as larks.

We’re here! Can you believe it? WE ARE IN GUATEMALA!!!


  • Camille

    Dear me!! One step at a time…hang in there!! 🙂


    (in Canada too…like a few comment-leaving friends above!)

  • Jen J

    Like everyone else, I have been (not so patiently) waiting for this post. I'm so glad you made it there safely and can't wait to read about your new adventures for the next 9 months. Congrats!!

  • Christine Fairfield

    Love reading the details. So exciting. I especially love your descriptions of your kids' reactions. Looking forward to more news from you and your family.

  • Suburban Correspondent

    So exciting for you! I can't believe you've pulled off this adventure – your kids will remember it for the rest of their lives. Good luck!

  • Mama Pea

    My tummy is a little jittery just reading this post. Once you really can do it, all of you are going to crash so completely!

    Thanks so much for spending the time (and energy!) to make these posts for all the rest of us. Oh my, what a wonderful journal this is going to be for you at the end of your nine months!

  • Ciara

    I love the feeling of landing in a new country not knowing the language or where I am. Getting a little lost each day. Communicating without words. I had to wait until I was 18 to leave Ireland-your children are so fortunate to have parents who are willing and able to bring them on such adventures. Really looking forward to hearing more of your tales.

  • Carol S-B

    The photography is excellent, as always. I like how you captured the excitement of the airport, the exhaustion, and even the plane trip. Airplane shots are difficult (so crowded; angles are v. restricted and don't often work out). The light coming through and illuminating your younger son's face and ear is striking. You even captured a glimpse of wing. Love it.

  • KTdid

    Ah, ahora ustedes estan in Guatemala!
    Yo deseo el mejor para ustedes!
    (uh, if this actually translates to something weird,
    it's because my H.S. Spanish is very, very old!)

  • Margo

    oh Jennifer. I just loved reading this post. Thanks for including all the details! I can't imagine how exhausted you are. xoxoxo

  • You Can Call Me Jane

    Oh my word!!! This is so very exciting! And bless your sweet heart for blogging so us here in the States (who are sitting on pins and needles) can hear your voice and live it with you. Thinking of you constantly!!

    • Carol S-B

      … and in Canada…
      Jane, I second your sentiments. With all you have to do, Jennifer, I'm glad you could squeeze in this update.

    • Aurelie

      …yes from Canada too. I was so excited when I saw the post. I have never met you, but it feels like I know you. You are so relatable. Thanks for posting, keep the pictures coming.

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