Dodging armed guards in Guatemala City

24/3/13

In the morning we get a private bus to the airport and it arrives an hour earlier than check-in, so we chill out and catch our onward flight to Guatemala City.

The guide has horror stories about Guatemala City, so I’m petrified and to be on the safe side we’ve arranged a taxi to pick us up from the airport through the Coperacha (our hostel).  As our taxi drivers goes to collect his car we have a totally drugged up women shouting at us about satellites, not a great first impression!

The driver speeds through the traffic but the closer we get to Guatemala City the more hectic it becomes and I notice tons of people running around in purple ceremonial outfits. The driver explains we’ve arrived smack bang at the start of Holy Week.

During the journey I note that Guatemala is not dissimilar from the rest of South America/Central America with numerous Spanish Colonial buildings. It’s an hour or so before we arrive at Coperacha. The hostel Manager is a really eccentric French guy who shows us to an outstanding room which Tom takes a few snaps of.

After we dump the bags, we are handed a map and reassured that it’s very safe to walk about and we should get out and take some photographs.  I’m still not convinced but we’re hungry and in need of some food, the streets are chaos so we get as far as a hot dog stall where we buy a few soft drinks and some hot dogs. A local is very impressed by Tom’s Spanish which has been improving a lot since we arrived 😉

25/3/13 – Heading to San Marcos La Laguna

The manager cooks us a really good included breakfast of eggs, plantain and beans and we have a lively chat about politics and the modern-day traveller.

Tom needs to get out some more money for our taxi to the bus station, so after we finish breakfast it’s time to venture out and find an ATM.  In the daylight the poverty hits me as I nearly trip over a homeless man sleeping in the street, armed guards man chicken vans (WTF) and drunks are sprawled out around the Plaza while druggies openly smoke crack pipes, in fact everywhere you look a building is manned by an armed guard! It’s very unnerving and the sooner we move out of the City the better.

Money secured we head back to pick up our taxi and discover the joys of a ‘chicken bus‘ on our way to San Marcos La Laguna instead of Tikal, yep I am bypassing Mayan temples for some lazy few days before we’re back in the UK.

Luckily we get on the bus from the depot so secure a seat but it’s not long before it’s absolutely rammed with people, bags and sellers that jump on and off trying to sell everything from food, preaching absolution of your sins and begging for money, quite an experience! Tom and I buy chicken and tortilla, mangoes with salt and small greengages.

The bus drops us off in Panajachel and we walk to the boat taxi, waiting until it is full before we can take off.  It’s dark when we arrive and Tom and I spend 2 hours walking around with our backpacks through the little lanes before we secure a room, as all the places we emailed are fully booked!

Straight away Tom and I notice how different it is here as everyone stops to say hello which hasn’t happened to us our whole trip, apart from in beloved India and some parts of Southeast Asia.

Feeling extremely peckish we go to Restaurant Fe which is run by a Brit from Essex who knows how to make a mean curry.

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