Although it was awkward to communicate via text and email in two languages, we eventually set up a schedule to get together. Jim and I would meet Raquel and her sister at Orlando airport. She sent us an image of her boarding pass on Spirit Airlines to make sure we had the right flight and time.

When we landed at Orlando, we struggled to find our way around and out of this huge and confusing place. This time we arrived supplied with maps AND the Google lady's directions (which were not exactly accurate). After snagging the first parking place we saw, we wandered Terminal A until we found the Spirit check-in desk. The very helpful greeter there led us to the right place to awaut arriving passengers.

We had allowed PLENTY of time to get to the airport, so of course the plane was delayed. Not to worry, we have practice hanging out in airports and enjoyed people watching and chatting with a young Jehovah's Witnesses couple who volunteered regularly at the terminal handing out tracts. The husband was originally from New York City and his wife was Dominican. They were interested in Raquel's story.

Finally the plane was posted as landed and we began standing with our identifiers: Jim had a sign with Raquel's name and I had taken a weaving and embroidery that she had given me all those years ago. At the very least we amused a number of arriving travelers.

Jim, Mary Ellena, Raquel

We finally greeted the arrivals.

Our new Jehovah's Witness friend took the picture for us.

Shortly after this, Raquel's sister Ligia introduced herself and we were ready to roll. They had not checked any luggage, so we headed out to the parking lot, only to discover that we had a loooonng walk to our parking place.

Remind me never to fly into Orlando again.

The trip to our hotel on the other side of Orlando at the height of rush hour occasioned some white knuckles, but we made it without incident. We were thankful for our EZPass, because the Google Lady routed us onto the express toll lanes without asking. Raquel had arranged to stay at the same hotel so that we wouldn't lose any time together.

Raquel & Ligia

That night we met for dinner and experimented with the most efficient ways to use cell phone translators to communicate. Raquel became proficient with voice translation, but I don't speak quickly enough and the translator kept timing out. I stuck with ticky-typey.

Raquel had brought a lovely shawl and a set of jade earrings and pendant as gifts for me. I hadn't thought to get anything specifically for her, but I had bought a pretty Christmas ornament at the Frank Lloyd Wright gift shop at Florida Southern, so I ran up to the room for that.

The next morning Jim chose to hang out in the hotel room and do laundry while us girls went for breakfast at Denny's and a stroll around the adjacent lake.

The hotel had a lovely location.

Christmas decorations

The local park authority was busy installing Christmas decorations around the lake and shopping areas. I can only imagine how the two workmen reached the tippy-top of this tree.

One of the topics that we discussed during our wanderings was how to communicate securely. Judges are at risk in Guatemala and Raquel is no exception. Over the past several years since we reconnected, I have been circumspect in what I say over text and email because I didn't trust either of these to be secure.

Ligia assured me that my instinct was correct. She recommended Whatsapp as the only secure communication method, so now I have it installed on my phone and computer. (I draw the line at Instagram!)

Nurture sculpture

This sculpture on the far side of the lake from our hotel is named "Nurture." I felt it was appropriate for the occasion.

The plethora of lakes in the Orlando area has the consequence that there are few direct routes from anywhere to anywhere else. The few that do exist, like I-4 & US 17, tend to be crowded.

Florida Cooter Turtles

The lake was home to waterbirds, fish, and numerous turtles.

These two appear to be Florida Cooters.

Florida Softshell Turtle

And this is a Florida Softshell.

I'm pretty sure I also saw a snapping turtle, but I didn't get a picture.


Flocks of White Ibis were scattered along the lake.

That evening we all went to visit my niece Anne and her family. Anne's oldest daughter, Olivia, has been studying Spanish and she was delighted to practice her skills with our Guatemalan friends, who said she did very well.

We had a fun dinner together and Raquel has invited Olivia (and me and Jim) to visit her in Guatemala. Who knows what the future holds?

I'm sorry that I didn't think to get pictures of Anne and her family.

The next morning we had breakfast together and then Raquel and Ligia met other friends who would take them to Ft. Myers to spend the rest of their holiday. Our time together was too short, but we are all looking forward to the possibility of next time....

Maybe I'll finally learn some Spanish before then!

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