Climbing the Pinnacles in New Zealand. The Pinnacles climb is located on the Coromandel Peninsula on the North Island. The climb itself is a lengthy day trip – over a thousand or so steps that have been carved into the stony mountain by years of wear by pack-animals that used to use this route to bring supplies to the Gum Miners long long ago. We had a few things working against us for this hike: it was raining, we started late enough that we would have to complete the hike in the dark, and Ashley left her headache drugs in the car. She got a raging migraine just before we reached the top, at one point plopping herself down on the ground refusing to go on. We abandoned our summit attempt half an hour from the top and we were both quite soaked and grumpy by the time we made it back down the mountain to the car. Since then the headache drugs have never been left behind (and one day, we hope to conquer the Pinnacles).
Mexico Guatemala Border Crossing. We crossed from Mexico to Guatemala on a tour package we booked in Palenque that took us on a bus to the border that is naturally marked by a river, along the river by boat to the Guatemalan side, by bus to the nearest immigration station where our passports were stamped, and finally overland to our destination in Flores. Despite the fact that the tour included all the transfers, it was a very stressful trip for us. The tour was not very popular, so we were put on a van full of people headed to a Mayan Ruin site, and not at all interested in getting to Guatemala. The guide spoke only Spanish, and we couldn’t understand him at all. It seemed at every stop that we were being told to go somewhere, meet someone, switch guides, and do something, but we could never figure any of the instructions out. Instead we just followed the vague directions we were pointed in and hoped for the best.
Montezuma’s Revenge (holy shit – literally). It seems there are a lot of travelers who get sick while they travel, and those that do are usually quick to point it out as the worst part of their trip. Ashley is no exception. She spent a total of 8 days in Mexico hovering near a toilet and shirking buses because of some travel bug. And as if that wasn’t enough, she had to endure another 3 days of the same and worse in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. Not fun.
Fighting in Lanquin, Guatemala. This one is pretty recent, and still a bit of a low point for us. As it turns out, after spending every waking minute together for a little under 3 months, we hit the point where we needed some time apart. The catalyst was probably “Hunger Anger” or simply “hanger”. It’s a condition that we both suffer from when we haven’t eaten enough, and is especially poignant when we’ve also under slept. As the story goes, we started snapping at each other one morning, and never really quit until a few days later when we made it to Rio Dulce. In the end, some chocobananas, private reading time, and some geeking out for Mike smoothed things out, and we’re happy to report that we’re still best friends and happily married to boot.
Losing Our Nalgene Bottle in Xela (Quetzaltenango), Guatemala. Believe it or not, this was the lowest point of our trip. We were just getting over the loss of a camera that was pick-pocketed at the Independence Day Fair the day before, when Mike left Ashley’s very favourite (and only) water bottle on the top of an ATM machine in the grocery store. By the time we noticed it was missing, and walked half the length of the city to go back and look for it, it was nowhere to be found. It was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back and we were both thrown into a 24 hour depression-filled mope fest. It felt like we could do no right and we were seriously beaten down. We felt lower than the Saskatchewan Roughriders after 4 games without a touchdown (CFL football reference… we still love you Riders!) To end on a positive note: Still in our funk, we returned to the grocery store the next day to buy some rice and lo and behold, Mike caught a glimpse of the water bottle. It was never taken, it had just been moved atop one of the employee lockers near the main entrance. We picked it up with a wave of happiness, and have treated it like our first born child ever since.
Photo: Ed Yourdon