Adventures of the Gringa Girls

We have had no shortage of adventure of late! This past weekend, we traveled to visit our good friend Corrie Zastrow, who has also been in Guatemala for the past three weeks. We had hoped that she might be able to come to Jalapa to visit us, but that ended up being impossible….and then someone rented a hotel room for her and told her to invite us over to stay with her! Mikah and I thought, prayed, and talked with our parents about this opportunity, but did not really know if we would be able to go until two hours before we left. We were planning to use the bus system, and though we and our parents were apprehensive about it, we felt better once we found out we could take a direct bus from Jalapa to Chiquimula, from where the missionary that Corrie is staying with would pick us up (she is in Guatemala to help with their baby’s birth). Only one bus! No complicated bus system changes and uncertainties this way, right?


Once I realized that this cross-country journey in a foreign culture was not going to go as I expected, I decided to keep a little diary of the tripΒ on my phone. We also decided to splurge on selfies, and took one in every bus we rode in! As you read this unedited account, try to imagine yourself in our shoes…experience the excitement with us. πŸ™‚

Diary of the Gringa Girls

March 4, 2016

2:50 – We leave the house in Wilmer’s car [Wilmer is a teacher here at the school who graciously agreed to transport us]. He takes us to the bus station located in the middle of the market. Wilmer buys are tickets at 18 Quetzales each, and tells us thatwe have to stop in Agua Blanca to switch buses since we arrived too late for the direct bus. Not what we had hoped…

3:15 – We get on the rickety bus and decline multiple produce vendors. Mikah and I pray together that our trip is a sae one without complications, and that we are able to communicate when we need to. The bus driver assures us that our next bus is already paid for, and that he will have a boy show us which bus it is!


3:25 – the bus pulls out and starts weaving its way through the market. Trying to, anyway. Several men push it in an attempt to get the bus running. It doesn’t help. The bus stops rolling and three men bend over the battery. After a few seconds, it starts, and we are on our way. The driver and fellow passengers seem reasonably friendly.

3:43 – the bus keeps dying. Someone mentions another bus, and this bus pulls over to wait for the next one. I hope we’re not waiting long!


3:46 – Okay, so we only had to wait a little bit! We are now on board a more reliable-looking bus, with Spanish rap/rock music blaring. The ride is bumpy and the van lurchy, but at least it moves! Aaannd, our previously promised bus guide was left behind with the broken bus. Oh well….


4:07 – enjoying the view! I love the mountains on all sides. I can’t say that this is my ideal way to travel, but I decided I’m just going to enjoy the experience. πŸ™‚

4:31 – just switched buses again. Now we’re on a big yellow bus instead of a half-size. This one is so much emptier and breezier! We’re now driving on a gravel road and listening to an audio book called “God’s Double Agent” (through shared earbuds) to pass the time. Great book so far!


P.S. We stopped several times to load and unload people and to unload a bunch of sheet metal…that alone took fifteen minutes, at least!

5:15 – we got to Agua Blanca, and switched to our fourth bus. Another half size bus packed completely full of people…so full, in fact, that Mikah and I are not even sitting together…she’s sitting behind the driver’s seat, facing backwards, and I’m squished in the front with three others. Thankful that I’m sitting between a lady and a window, so at least I can feel the breeze and see the road! Someone by Mikah is holding my big heavy backpack so that I can fit up here. Oh yeah, and they’re saying we’ll have to switch buses again before we get to Chiquimula.

5:20 – Some people just got out, so now Mikah is sitting on a front-facing bench, but is sandwiched between a young lady and a cowboy. SO much fun…

5:40 – fifth bus. 29 people in here, and the vehicle is close to the size of a fifteen passenger. We’re in the back having a lively conversation with a friendly lady who has shared our journey for the past few buses. Her name is Erika, and we’ve been talking about the school we teach at, and how we are missionaries. And we cannot be picked up at Chiquimula, by the way, since the missionaries Corrie is with have a church service tonight, and he is preaching. Soooo….we have to take another bus!! πŸ™‚ This is turning into quite the trip.




6:12 – in hopefully our last bus now!


6:33 – after picking up lots of people and rearranging everyone to fit, we are estimating that there are 35 of us in here right now. I’m between Mikah and a young guy, and personal space is now a luxury. Actually, sitting down is a luxury right now, since there are probably eight or nine people standing up in the front, and some of them are hanging out the door.

7:07 – the bus is emptying out, so now we have more body room, PTL! We’re getting hungry and definitely ready to get off the bus…

7:14 – Haha, as I was writing that, we stopped in Zacapa. Now we are standing in front of a church waiting for the missionary to pick us up. I’m afraid we’re going to make them late for church. πŸ™ [The church service started at 7:00…]

10:39 – We’re in the hotel room with Corrie now! Thankfully the missionary, Caleb, and Corrie picked us up before I even finished that last entry, so we weren’t left out on the curb in the dark for too long. We then ate some delicious homemade pizza in the van on he way to church (SO thankful for that!). After the two hour church service that took place outside an adobe hut with a single light bulb and twenty to thirty plastic chairs, we were served coffee and bread. We then went to Caleb and Megan’s house while Caleb’s mom and brothers packed their things for the hotel [they also left Caleb and Megan’s house for the weekend to give the couple some time alone before the baby comes]. I sent a quick email to Mom and Dad and Mikah’s parents to let them know we were safe, and then we left for the hotel. Now we are going to take showers and just hang out tonight and enjoy visiting with each other. πŸ™‚

And there you are! That was more selfies than I’ve ever taken (much less posted) in a day before, but this was a memorable event worthy of such extravagant selfie-shness. Β πŸ˜›

Remember, however, that even though the way I am describing our adventure may sound like it was all just fun and thrill, it wasn’t. It was also hot, stinky (like body odor…yuck!), dusty, crammed, awkward, and uncomfortable. We were unsure of what to do at times, or what would happen, but the Lord watched over His children and kept us safe and in good spirits.

As for the rest of the weekend, it was extremely enjoyable and encouraging for all three of us! Watch for part two of this adventure in the next day or two, in which I will describe the weekend in more detail and with plenty more pictures! Here’s a sneak peek…


Until next time, God bless you all, or as they say here, “Dios les bendiga!” Thank you for your prayers!


  1. Crystal says:

    Hannah, I thought your trip sounded scary and exciting. I would not have wanted to be in those crammed buses like you were especially if I was alone! I enjoyed the pictures a lot. How did you take them?

    • Hannah McIntosh says:

      haha! That was when I began the diary, because I figured that being possibly stranded along the road was kinda unusual…but I had no idea of the adventure that lay ahead. I am very glad I’m here, too!

      Why the “vanzileblog” name? Just curious. πŸ™‚

  2. Seth Lancaster says:

    Fun! Okay, I know how the transportation can be, but you can be glad that you had no accident to add onto it! My sister Joy took a trip while we were in Mozambique with a Mozambican friend, and they had similar experiences, just they also were involved in a head-on collision…
    Thanks for the post though, I got some laughs from it. Press on there in Guatemala!

  3. Charles says:

    Maybe I should be one of those annoying people that submit their post five times because they don’t see it come up right away…

  4. Charles says:

    Great post, and it’s possible that the pictures are the best part! In Part Two, are you going to resolve the non-issue-which-Cal-has-made-into-an-issue of why Corrie has a lemonade instead of a sundae? (And since “grinko” means “white boy,” does that mean “gringa” mean “white girl?”)

    • Hannah McIntosh says:

      They didn’t come up right away because you’ve never commented here before, and I have to approve first-time commenters. πŸ™‚ Yes, “gringa” is a kind of derogatory name for white girl. haha… As far as the drinks go..maybe I should just let you figure that out yourselves. πŸ™‚

      • Charles says:

        I know, Hannah – that post was part of a joke – I submitted the same post three times. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜€ (Although only one of them got through, I guess.)

        • Hannah McIntosh says:

          haha, no, I didn’t until now…I saw that they were different, but figured it was a mistake. I did think it was strange for you to make such an obvious typo, though!

    • Sara McIntosh says:

      You’re totally missing the point of the picture, Charles! Did you notice that there are 3 beautiful young ladies in that picture?

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