“What if she doesn't like this place?"... “What if she doesn't want to sleep on a couch?"... “Where should we take her to eat?"... I ask Pete all these questions almost simultaneously with a flurry of nervous energy behind them. He looks at me with an exasperated, furrowed brow and replies, “Natasha, It's Lindsey”
Oh. Yeah! It's Lindsey who's coming to visit. Only one of the most chill women I know, who will be happy with whatever we plan. So I relax, mostly. I still want things to be perfect.
I meet her at the airport with a few cocktails in tow, and we catch up on the drive back to our Lake Atitlan apartment. Even though it's been almost a year since we've seen each other, it takes about 1.2 seconds to get our friendship back in the swing of things.
Half of Lindsey's suitcase contents are a hodge-podge of weird items she has so kindly, and without any complaints, brought us from home; including a giant bottle of Ibuprofen, ear plugs, a couple boxes of tampons, a new rain jacket, and a seatbelt screw. For our friends she has a new Macbook, and a jar of marmalade and marmite. She even stuffed a large bottle of toilet deodorizer for our camper toilet in her bag, but it didn't clear customs. On top of all of this, she brings us incredibly thoughtful gifts, because like a beautiful, funny, beer drinking St. Teresa, she's the kindest and most considerate of souls.
She gets us exploring again, curing us of our recent travel funk, as we see our incredible surroundings through a fresh set of eyes.
Pete cooking us dinner.
A boat trip across the lake to the town of Panajachel.
After a few days at Atitlán, we decide to splurge on the most amazing boutique hotel on the planet, Hobbitenango.
Pete and I both love Lord of the Rings, so going to a place where you can stay in a Hobbit House while sipping on drinks called Bilbojitos and King's Elixer, and eating meals named First and Second breakfast, all while petting a cat named Froto was a no brainer. Luckily Lindsey is just the right amount of dorky, and was completely on board.
Resident dog Bruno invited himself inside, possibly with a little encouragement:)
Not much can follow Hobbitenango, except possibly the beautiful colonial city of Antigua. We meandered the streets in the afternoon, and in the evening Lindsey, like she hadn't done enough, treated us to a fancy steak dinner.
When I look back on her visit, my fondest memories aren't just jumping from a 30ft cliff (which I never would have done if she hadn't encouraged me), or sitting outside a round Hobbit door staring at an active volcano; it's also the normal stuff friends do. The stuff I'd taken for granted back home. Like when she let me complain till the early hours of the morning about the annoyances of our trip (because contrary to popular belief, living in a tiny space 24 hours a day with one person isn't always marital bliss), and the night we snuggled together on the couch and attempted to watch a horror movie, only making it through ten minutes before switching to a much milder choice. The only possible excuse for our cowardliness being that the other two members of our four girl group weren't present for support and snuggles.
I've met a ton of amazing women on this trip, but nothing compares to an old friend who can momentarily make you forget that you miss home, and remind you of what you have to look forward when you eventually find your way back there.