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Sun Jun 30 2013: Vacation-time!

Living on the road for an extended period brings up a unique set of issues, mainly around the issue of residency and citizenship. By now we've figured out the monthly duties like paying credit card bills, but annual chores like filing taxes and renewing licenses and passports present new challenges as we've got to figure out how to do all this while being out of Canada.

Maya and I made a friend outside the Canadian Embassy

Neda's passport was due to expire, so when we picked up Andi's bike In Guatemala City, we also paid a visit to the Canadian Embassy to renew her documents. During our time in Antigua, we would regularly travel back and forth on the scenic and twisty road to the capital city. And all of this before 2PM, as we try to complete all our errands before the daily afternoon tropical rain showers.

Well traveled (and divided) road between Antigua and Guatemala City! W00T!

We've been feeling burnt out from our travels for quite some time now. The month-long Internet-isolation in Cuba exacerbated our weariness and half-way through our stay in Antigua, we decided to take a short vacation from our travels to visit family and friends back in Toronto. Our spur-of-the-moment decision complicates things a bit - Neda's passport is in transit somewhere between Ottawa and Guatemala, so we've got to wait for it to be processed before we can empty our Air Miles piggybank for the flight back.

To add to it, our month-long rental came to a close and we are once again semi-nomadic.

Breakfast at our temporary B&B accommodations

Guatemala belongs to the CA4 (Central America-4) Border Control Agreement, a recent act which allows free travel for visitors between Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Costa Rica on the same Tourist Permit without having to apply or renew at each border. This added a bit of a complication because we wanted to visit Toronto right near the expiry period of our current permit. Which meant we had to renew our CA4 permit *AND* our vehicle permit before we left Guatemala. Otherwise our expired permit prohibited us from entering the CA-4 zone for an additional 90 days.

However Neda's passport still had not arrived from Ottawa... :(

Every step required time - 21 days for the passport, 4 days for the tourist permit renewal, and a separate trip for the vehicle permit. And we had already booked our plane tickets! Uh oh. Because of our lack of planning, if everything went according to the official timeline, we would not get our tourist and vehicle permits renewed until after our flight departure date, which meant delaying our plane ticket ($$$), or we could bypass the the 4-day Tourist Permit processing by riding to the Guatemala/Mexico border, getting a Mexican TVIP again (more $$$), spending a night at the border, canceling the TVIP and then re-entering Guatemala.

My head hurt thinking about the logistics of that one. So in the meantime, we went for a ride with Julio, Luisa and Andi. No passport or tourist permits required for this!

Andi and Maya on the left, Julio and Luisa on the right

Group ride through some of the small towns around Antigua

Morning fog hugging the hills, lush scenery all around us

The early morning weather felt a bit cold and iffy, but we decided to chance it and braved the damp roads and ominous clouds overhead. We were still without riding boots, which made me a bit nervous! Julio took us through some very scenic routes through the hills surrounding Antigua, capped off with an brunch with a great view of the volcanoes and rolling hills around the area. We scurried back home to escape the looming afternoon rains.

Brunch and a view

Trying to beat the rain home

Twisty mountain roads on the way back

Things fell into place for us in the end. Ottawa sent Neda's passport back earlier and we had plenty of time to make another trip to GC to extend our tourist visas and vehicle permits. We were allowed in the CA-4 zone till November! Wow! When we asked Julio for some storage facilities in the area, he graciously offered his own garage for the time we were away. We are constantly blown away by the kindness of people we are meeting along the way.

Julio and Luisa took us out for our farewell dinner in Antigua. So nice!

And we're off on summer vacation!

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