Guatemala was amazing. It's such an incredible country, full of natural beauty and vibrant indigenous culture, and the people are extremely welcoming. It's very poor, and has a tragic history, but there's a lot of joy there nonetheless. After 15 years (my last trip there), some things have changed quite a lot: more tourism, better tourist infrastructure, not so off-the-beaten-path feeling.
NSVs of the trip:
- Sitting on a plane for hours is a lot less awful at my current weight. I didn't feel like I was overflowing onto anyone else and my hips had room. That was fantastic.
- Being really active was soooooo much easier - from climbing Mayan pyramids to hiking to kayaking (particularly getting in and out of the kayak!) to just plain old walking a lot, I was able to enjoy the trip to its fullest due to my better physical health.
- I look pretty good in the trip photos! I have avoided being photographed for a while now due to hating how I look, so this is great. Lots of photos, and I look *fine* in them. No cringing.
- I was able to eat. Not perfectly on plan, but generally enough food, and not much in the way of junk - a couple of french fries here and there, a few tortilla chips. Bars and shakes were necessary to keep the protein up. I ate a lot of eggs and beans and queso fresco and avocado.
- I'm feeling kind of normal-sized now - I certainly want to lose more weight, but I feel like an overweight person who doesn't stand out instead of like a fat person who people might stare at. This helped me to just feel more relaxed and happy the whole time.
I was gone for 17 days and didn't weigh myself for that whole stretch, which of course completely messes up my beautiful beautiful precious spreadsheet. I was gone on my 5 month surgiversary (the 14th) so I don't have a spot-on five month milestone (sad emoji). So, this morning I weighed in at 201.8, which is down 8 pounds from the day I left - not too shabby for a vacation! That puts me sooooooo close to onederland. I was kind of secretly hoping I'd have passed that threshold by the time I got back, but 10 pounds in two weeks is a big ask. That puts my (a little bit more than) month's loss at 15 pounds. That's about how much I've mostly been losing per month, but now that I'm down almost 90 pounds (what????!!!!) it's a lot more, proportionally speaking, so it's more obvious. I've got about 50 pounds to go until my current goal weight - I'll see as I get closer how I feel about it as a final ending point. A little higher? A little lower? Secretly hoping a little lower.
Eating was a bit of a pain in the butt. I got really sick of the bars and shakes. Breakfast was easy - the typical breakfast in Guatemala is black beans, eggs, queso fresco, fried plantains, and tortillas (plus maybe avocado). Get rid of the tortillas (I tried them but sadly they kind of gum up my stomach and make it so I don't eat any more) and I'm good. I even ate some of the fried plantains most days - the oil didn't make me dump, and I was needing the calories, since my food intake was pretty low for most of the trip. Lunch or dinner in restaurants every stinking day was a bit more of a slog. I could eat vegetarian most places, since Guatemala is on the hippie backpacker trail, but vegetarian and low-carb are mostly mutually exclusive there, as with most places. I ate a fair number of salads with a bit of cheese and/or egg, I ate the toppings off a slice of pizza a couple of times, I attempted felafel once (the crispy nature of it just DID NOT SETTLE and I was so lucky as to see it again very soon after dinner), and I ate the tuna out of a couple of tuna sandwiches. I had some shrimp and some fish. It was a bit tedious trying to figure out how to work the menus, though. It did make me realize that I can have fun on vacation without being very excited about what I was eating, which is great.
I drank alcohol twice: one glass of white wine for my birthday in Antigua, which knocked me for a loop, but it was OK. I also had a sip of "caldo de frutas" (a brandy sort of drink that is bright pink from hibiscus flowers and has fruit chunks marinating in it) in a small town, accompanied by a bite of the fruit. I kind of had to - it was being served to me by the man who made it, and he really wanted me to like it. The bite of fruit had enough alcohol and sugar in it that I feared a dumping episode was on its way It wasn't, I was OK, but it certainly messed up my Spanish noun/adjective agreements for an hour or so (I was having a long conversation with my guide on church architecture and history - he was laughing and correcting me, fun for all).
Exercise was hit or miss. Some days I walked a LOT (25,000 steps on my biggest day). Some days I spent a lot of time in various modes of transport. Looking at my Fitbit data, I got at least 10,000 steps almost every day. Pretty good. Mostly the good thing was that I was able to keep up with my much more physically fit friends, even when it was 95 degrees with 90% humidity! I would have died trying to do this vacation 6 months ago. Actually, I just never would have gone
We spent several days walking around Mayan sites in the Peten (on the Yucatan Peninsula). We climbed to the top of Temple IV to watch the sun rise one day - gorgeous. We listened to howler monkeys shrieking in the trees and saw toucans and parrots flying overhead in the jungle. We toured around highland villages, watched locals devote themselves to a Mayan/Catholic hybrid local saint (Maximon) by giving him money and making him smoke cigarettes and drink the local firewater. We explored the many villages of Lake Atitlan by boat, observing the language and cultural differences between them, despite their proximity to each other in their unique location under three volcanoes. We stayed in a tiny isolated village with no cars and listened to the dogs bark, children play, turkeys gobble, roosters crow, and watched a massive lightning storm burst to life above the volcanoes across the lake from us. We entered 500 year old churches and saw the ancient saints dressed in Mayan clothing, just like the worshippers. We visited several markets and ate street food at stalls with local farmers, conversing in Spanish, which was a second language to all of us, as they are mostly Mayan speakers. We watched a volcano erupt. We spent many long hours in good conversation. It was a great vacation!
Honestly, the simple fact that I went on this vacation at all is an NSV. I kept thinking that the whole time.