And the Bizarre Travel Award Goes To...

Whenever I travel, time seems to slow down. Do you have this experience? It's like a day at home that would have flitted away making sandwiches, working online, and running laundry is suddenly filled with back-to-back memories. I'll reminisce about a particularly hilarious experience with a tuk tuk driver and have to remind myself, "Oh yeah, that happened earlier today."

And that's another thing. I laugh so much more when I travel. Even when I'm not accidentally robbing people or being attacked by snakes, funny things just seem to happen.

The first time I ever traveled internationally was to spend four weeks in Guatemala to learn Spanish. (I also met my future in-laws on this trip - without Billy!) I traveled with girlfriends, and our four weeks felt like at least six months and was packed with bizarre, silent-shaking laughter types of experiences. Naturally, I started writing them down in a notebook.

After years of wondering whatever happened to that bad boy, I finally found the notebook in our attic last week. And all of my crazy notes made me laugh all over again - but this time for a different reason: I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT THEY'RE TALKING ABOUT! Save for a few particularly memorable moments, most of these little phrases and explanations mean absolutely nothing to me anymore. A lot has happened in eight years.

Still, it brought me ridiculous glee to read gems like:

Oh, we're on Guatemala time... I probably did have time to change out of my mock turtleneck and wind pants and into a more appropriate dance outfit... a spandex onesie!"

Charades: bling bling, drugs, stripper. "I don't really know what you're doing in English right now." (aka Cinderella - involved flapping wings like a chicken)

Too much gresa! Don't EVER eat food from the calle or I'll tell my dog to pee on your homework!

Okay... the lights are out... grab your gun... wear your fatigues... the time is NOW!...over" [fuzz of radio]

Siete horas... need I say more?

Yes, Sarah! Please say more! What on earth does all this nonsense mean? Ah well. I may not remember specifics, the notebook brought back some wonderful and funny memories. One, in particular, stands out among the rest.

In Xela, Guatemala, you may stumble across this life-changing Natural History Museum. When I tried to look it up recently online, many people commented about its questionable taxidermy practices. I don't quite recall the worn, well-loved look of many of the exhibits, though I do remember the museum's fondness for displaying many life-like and "in action" animals. (Think birds hanging out of the mouths of big cats.)

However, what really made an impression were two shocking displays. I was casually glancing around... hum drum... starfish, crawdad, bam! El Diablo del Mar. "The Sea Devil." And there it was: a Gumby-like, little, white alien waving back at me. I tried to translate the placard for some explanation, but no luck.

Moving on. We've got a taxidermied cat, a nondescript parrot, and whoa! Two-headed cow. It stood, life-sized and stuffed in the middle of the room, protected by a glass box. Again, no real explanation was provided. I guess they used to roam the area at some point? Hmmmm.

Needless to say, this museum cracked me up for years to come. I couldn't get over the casualness of the bizarre. But I love the Xela Natural History Museum all the more for it. If I ever return to that lovely town, you can bet I will be introducing it to someone new.

Do you find time slows down when you travel? What's something funny that has stuck with you long after the flight home? 
Image credit: Benjamin Jakabek

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