Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Flores, Guatemala

This is Flores. It is a peninsula Island, and a tourist town. It is very clean, very safe and is Very affordable. Our hotel was 125Q a night which was about $18-20 US!! We didn't get to do too much here, as it was a bit of a lay over and Phil needed to rest, but it is on our list of places to go back to .
The night we arrived, we checked into our hotel and then went for dinner. Lots of neat, fun little places to choose form.
We didn't get to do out door seating, and it Flores is in an area where it is hot and humid again. Felt so strange again to have the temperature change.
We had a beer to toast good health. Gallo is the beer of Guatemala. We loved it...much like a Miller. All the shops are open until 10p.m. More shopping! People come to vacation here as its a central location to many tourist attractions like the Tikal ruins. So people, much like at our resorts, get up early and are off to their tours. They come back in the afternoon and then like to stay up, have a nice dinner and have a few drinks.

We were up early to catch a bus that was leaving at 7:30, but we had a change of plans with some post hospital stay stomach issues... nothing major, just a little delay.

Our Hotel
So neat... like from a movie...

The gateway to the City.

A beautiful Church

We were able to get a taxi for a fare price and left Flores around 11:30 for our home in Belize... about a 5 hour drive I think. (just under 2 hours to the border)

One more short chapter to post...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Guatemala Part Two

This is our new "Extended Family". Bonny, and (L to R) Jose, Pamela and Juan. They speak about as much English and I speak Spanish. But one thing is for sure, Love only has one language. I was able to show them photos on my lap top of some Minnesota Winters, and the beauty of where we live in Belize. A few evenings we wold have fresh corn tortilla and refreid beans with this wonderful white cheese before bed. And in the mornings, it was the best coffee! Andrea, who I don't have in a photos was also staying with her aunt Bonny while I was there to help interpret for us.

The few days that Andrea could not be there, Sheyla was. Sheyla had open heart surgery a few years ago and her twin brother just had the same 6 weeks before we arrived. That is apart of their compassion for helping people like Phil and I. Sheyla also took me shopping one afternoon and I will talk about that in a bit.

Friday July 18, Phil got out of the hospital. On the way home, we stopped at the Market. They are long covered platforms with vendors on them. Now, each platform is maybe 50 yards long. We drove in and they were on both sides of the drive... and we stopped at number 22, and there were more ahead of us. IT IS HUGE!! So clean and nice. Its the biggest market I have ever seen.

Fruits and grains and seed and spices....

Fruits I have never seen before...
These were interesting.... Cant tell you the name...
So after a little view of the Market, we went back to Bonny's house. This was Phil's first time there. Its a very big home and its up in the mountains. The turns are sharp, the woods are beautiful! Did I mention that it was about 60-70 degrees there! I thought it would be warmer there, but is cool and reminded us of Minnesota and Michigan in the fall.

The top of the car port is a helicopter landing pad...

The upper part of this area is the Pool... the lower is the work out room.

Phil on the chopper pad

Most places are very highly secured. You see things like this all around the homes and the communities are all gated. You see Police and Security with big guns at every mall, store, bank (on the roof tops at he banks), restaurants, most everywhere.

Lots of Roses in this area of Guatemala. LONG, long stems

Eucalyptus Trees too

On Sunday, Shayla took me shopping. We started at a very large shopping mall. It had 3 floors and you would thing you were back in the USA. It was not as big as the MOA, but it was bigger then the Dales. It was SO crowded! Like Rosedale Mall at Christmas time! So we looked around for a bit and then we went to see some different shopping. This is a "tourist shopping area". It is near the big Zoo and was recently built for Mayan arts and craft sales. Man, they have beautiful things!! This is me holding a quilt that I fell in love with.

Then as we were heading back to the house, Shayla stopped at a bakery. You walk into this little family owned place and you pick up your basket and tongs and pick out your good. Breads and sweets, Big "coffee cakes"... Oh my... and DONUTS!!

On Monday, Phil had his last check with his Cardio Doctor and we were ready to go. We stopped for some lunch, and I got a photo of some of the motos. Imagine 20 of these in McDonald's Logos out front of your local McDonald's! Neat! I think I am glad that they don't deliver in Minnesota... Man, that is too convenient!

Then it was off to the Air Port. This is Taca Air. We took them back to Flores, Guatemala.

Flores is a beautiful place and that is the next post...

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Traveling Tues July 15

Hey everyone! Just to start, we arrived home on Tues July 22. Phil is feeling very good and I am as well. I have been back to work and settling back into our home. I finally have time to get all of our photos on the computer and have start telling our story. It was all incredible! Many thanks to all of our family and friends who have been thinking of us and praying for us. We have been in very good hands. Many thanks to Pat and Charlie, David and Patty, Ingrid, Nurse Judy, Bernard and Lewis at Jaguar Reef, Ian at Caves Branch, Walter the Paramedic, Jamie our driver, Dr. Gough and Dr Cuellar, the staff at Belize Medical Associates, Dr Jose Castellanos and the staff at Unicar and our new "extended family" in Guatemala.

On Tues, July 15 Phil was discharged from the Belize Medical Associates Hospital. We had the plan set up for a few days that we would be driven from Belize City to the border of Guatemala (about 2 hours) and then on to Flores to the air port (just under 2 hours as well). We were so lucky to have David arrange with Ian from the Caves Branch Resort to have a van pick us up with a paramedic on board. I think even our Doctor felt better about that. Also on board was Ingrid, Angel of Mercy as she is known. Ingrid had arranged our flights and also arranged for me to stay with her family while were were in Guatemala. Ingrid took time to help me brush up on some Spanish and help get through the day.
Once at the airport, we had a little lunch and got on our flight to Guatemala City. It was a 45 minute flight or so. As we were landing, we noticed the tall buildings, busy freeways and billboard signs. Guatemala City is a very modern town mixed with much unique culture.
Once we were in the air port, we took our time to walk to the baggage claim, that was the hardest part for Phil. We met out host family and we were off to the hospital... Unicar.

Driving in Guatemala City is more aggressive then Chicago driving.... I have not been there but it may beat LA. People kinda form their own lanes at times and go around "obstacles" like stopped cars where you more than likely wouldn't dream of back home. Another thing I noticed is that in Belize people honk at you all the time, but its a friendly honk to say "hi" ...Its not so friendly in Guatemala City. You hear a lot of long, blairing horns all over. There are also a lot of mopeds and motorcycles. It was a lot like the States with all the fast food restaurants. Even with having 3 McDonald's along the same stretch of road. So after about a 20 minute drive we were at the hospital.
We walked into Unicar thinking that someone knew he was coming...they didn't. One of our Doctors did talk to someone. We were there about 6 something...and it was not until around 7 or 8 that they were able to get a Doctor to admit him. See, its different as Unicar does not have an ER that is not the type of hospital they are and it actually closes around 5:30. We were not upset as they were doing all they could to contact the correct person, and there was another Doctor there who was just about to take Phil to a hospital where he could admit him just for the night and have him transferred back in the morning for continued care. But just as we were starting to plan that Dr. Jose Castellanos came in and admitted Phil to the ICU. He would be doing Phil's Angiogram on Wed afternoon.
ICU is 3 rooms, with space for 3 beds in each room. They have the modern equipment, but it looks kinda bear bones. They actually have a person sitting there watching you in your bed as well. (ICU...I See You...) The Doctors and nurses were so nice an a few spoke English. Phil was in his bed and back on his IV's and after 8 (I think) we left him. Thank heavens that we had our host family, and the niece, Andrea, was our translator. Through this whole time they were on phones and talking to medical personnel to do all they could to get Phil taken care of and updating me... I wold have been in a ball on the floor sobbing if it was not for them.
So we went to have a bite to eat... yes, I have to admit I chose McDonald's!! And it was SO GOOD! :-) Neat to see it all set up in Spanish and see about 20 mopeds outside with boxes on teh back of them for delivery. Every fast food place delivers in G.C.! Very neat to see. After dinner it was off to Ingrid's sister in law's homes. First to Eley's where I sent out an email, then to Bony's were I would be staying. Bony lives in the mountains in a big beautiful home with her 3 children and 19 dogs... and they got 2 more dogs before we left! They bread German Sheppard and work on training police dogs. They drive up to the house is very windy with a lot of tight turns as you go up. The sides of the mountains just drop off like a hole filled with trees...I asked if anyone had ever gone over the edge....they smiled and said no. A part of me wonder and amazement of the big hills and tight turns, is that I have Minnesota Winters forever ingrained in my mind. No mater where I am in the world, I think i will always catch myself saying "That must be a bitch in the winter". I find myself thinking that here in Belize too...Wed morning, we headed back to the Hospital. I was allowed only brief visits with Phil as they had open heart patents recovering in the ICU. (By the end of the day the ICU had at least 6 patents in it). At about 2:30 they took Phil back to the procedure room. By 3 the Doctor had me come look at the computer and he showed me that all of Phil's stinks were working and looking great. He then showed me the blockage he had found. Its so was some 70-80%% blocked. And I think it was in the area of the first 2 stints he had put in last July. (This is Phil's 3rd angiogram/angioplastie in one year) I left the area, and they were finished with Phil by 3:30 or 4. I got to talk to him in the hall and he was wide awake, unlike his last 2 procedures. He felt great and thought it was the best experience he had out of the 3. A little while later I was able to feed him some fruit. And later on we brought him back some veggies and beef stew.

While I was waiting for Phil in the procedure room, I took some photos of the little children's clothing have in the hall way. I am not totally sure if this is correct, but I believe it is typical Mayan/Guatemalan sewing.

Thursday, I spent most of the day with Phil and was also able to spend the night with him. People are allowed to sleep in the waiting rooms (a limited amount of people per family with approval etc...) but it is interesting to see people sleeping in sleeping bags on the floor at night. Even the bathroom in the waiting room has a shower for people to use. This hospital was created with its local people and culture in mind. At one time patents had to have family bring all the foods needed as there was no food service, its about putting the money where its needed in the technology. You would also have a family member stay with you to help and only get a nurse when it was needed. You also supply your own toiletries and towels. The doctors said it was OK for me to spend the night in his room. That means on the floor. But as long as the other bed was not in use by night time, I could use it....and I did.

From Phil's window, you can see Volcanoes. I don't know their names or any of the history of the area. One of them is active and "puffs" The clouds cover the tops most of the time but I did get a few good shots when they are clear too. We had a relaxing day on Thursday and rested most of the morning until we were discharged around 2 on Friday.

I'll stop here and get this up on the blog. Stay tuned as there is SO much more to share!