Nothing like a trip abroad to remind you that the U.S. isn’t the center of the universe. And then I come back the week of the most American holiday next to the 4th of July. Thanksgiving. My favorite.
Belize was really crazy. I “visited” the Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave. “Visiting” entails an hour hike through the jungle, sloshing through the river 3 different times, to reach the cave. Then, you swim through the mouth of the cave and begin exploring on foot, sloshing again through it and climbing rocks, for about a mile. You have a hard hat complete with headlamp. It is pitch black inside. I got to see stalagmites and bats. My main reason to visit the cave was because it was a site for Mayan human sacrifices. There were skulls and bones and pots used in those sacrifices. The pièce de résistance was seeing the crystal maiden – the fully intact remains of a teenage girl. She looks sparkly because of the minerals that have formed on her over the last 1000 years or so.
I still can’t believe I did that. I am seriously not a hiker, climber, whatever. I am not athletic. This was some straight Indiana Jones crap. I was cursing my existence – well, more than usual – the whole time. I wore pants and a long shirt because the rocks were slippery and sharp. I walked and climbed through the cave, soaked from swimming. I held on to the guide and various people on the tour. I still slipped from time to time, and I have bruises all over my legs. It was awesome to see the artifacts and remains though. Back at the office, the tour operator who assured me that it wasn’t that bad asked me what I thought of it. “Amazing, but not something I’d repeat.” He told me he gets that a lot, and that’s why it’s described as a once in a lifetime experience.
I was able to do a day trip into Guatemala to see the Disneyland of Mayan ruins – Tikal. Amazing place. They are huge, but I really didn’t realize how huge until I saw them for myself. I had qualms about going because of the crime in Guatemala, but there was nothing to fear. They have military checkpoints now, and the tour guide and driver weren’t armed. I think things are getting much better.
Coming back was interesting too. I landed in Houston a half hour early. Thank God. There was a long, snaking line at customs and 6 windows open. One guy asked an employee, “Why aren’t there more agents?” The lady said, “Budget cuts. Washington.” I laughed to myself. That “big government” isn’t so bad when you’re trying to make your connecting flight. After, I raced through, grabbed my luggage to check for my connecting flight. I was able to try out the radiation refrigerator in security. It was very high-tech. I got to the gate as the plane was boarding. Thank the Lord. I was tired and really didn’t want to stay in Houston overnight.
After landing at SFO, I was already thinking about Thanksgiving. It is my favorite holiday. I love it. It’s all about feasting and being grateful for what you have. How cool is that? Anyway, since it’s my favorite, I do most of the cooking. Turkey, cranberry sauce, stuffing – all on me. I pulled it off. Save for my sister’s delicious green beans and garlic mashed potatoes, this spread was my creation. I make a mean Thanksgiving dinner, if I do say so myself:
I survived Black Friday by staying at home. Why risk getting pepper sprayed in the face for an Xbox? And I survived Cyber Monday. I must admit that I did indulge. Damn that Kate Spade Sample Sale. But hey, I did stimulate the economy.
I think it’s back to business as usual. A full inbox greeted me at work. And then I see politically seductive headlines like “Coulter Calls McCain a ‘Douchebag,’ Gets Bleeped by MSNBC” and “Herman Cain Considers Dropping his Presidential Bid”
It’s good to be home.