Out of the Frying Pan, back into the Smog

Buenos Dias from La Capitol, Guatemala City. Yesterday was another long gruelling day of travel. I got up at 5, caught the 6am bus out of El Estor with 2 others travellers I had met there. We got to Rio Dulce and had breakfast, and then they were headed down the river to Livingston, where I had already been, so we said goodbye. It was fun doing the tour of the nature reserve, hanging out in El Estor, and at least a short leg of travelling with some others.

My new friends jumped on a little boat leaving for the river right from the little gringo-owned lakeside restaurant where we ate. I sat there a little longer and finished tea, and then went to the bus station and got a ticket for the next bus to Guatemala City. The bus ended up being an hour late, or perhaps it just never came and I actually got on the next hourly one. At any rate, it was a great example of people who sell services here telling you what you want to hear, especially when there is competition. there was another bus company just across the street, so I think they tried hard to make their service look comparitively attractive. leaves early, cheaper, takes less time. It turned out to leave only a half hour earlier and it took 6 hours as opposed to the 5 that I was told, but if they had told me the truth (assuming they knew the truth), I might have gone with the other company.

Anyway, the trip was pretty miserable. At least the bus was a greyhound style bus and not a school bus, but we drove through the hottest driest parts of Guatemala, and the bus was really underpowered when we got to the mountains leading up to the capitol.

Finally we got to the city, shortly before dusk, and I found the hotel I had planned ahead of time to stay at, just 2 blocks away from where the bus stopped (each bus company has their own terminal in Guate, its strange, but thats privatisation for you...) The neighborhood is really grotty, Zona One, which is the historic town center, but now the most crime-ridden and dangerous place in town, I think, except for maybe parts of Zona Four. I checked in, then quickly hoofed over to get dinner a few blocks away before it got too dark. I ate at Camparo, which is like Guatemala's answer to Kentucky Fried Chicken, because I didnt want to take chances in this neighborhood with searching for a better restaurant and I wanted to get done fast and get back to the hotel, and I knew Camparo, its a chain so like all chains you always know what you'll get.

It was friday night and I was kind of bummed that i felt not safe enough to go out and try to see a little Guate City nightlife. I could have taken a cab to a bar or club, but i didnt want to spend the money. So I just glumly trudged back to the hotel. However once there I realized the hotel room had cable TV, and I ended up watching a bunch of gringo movies, with spanish subtitles so i could justify it as practicing spanish. I saw the end of a jackie chan film about stolen nuclear bombs, and then most of the Ali G movie, which was hilarious in sort of British Beavis and Butthead sort of way, and then most of a Chris Rock and Anthony Hopkins movie, also about a stolen nuclear weapon.

Seems to be a current zeitgeist or fear within the collective imaginary, the idea that there are all these old soviet warheads floating around the former soviet bloc, maybe getting sold by mafia to terrorists. Probably a lot of truth to it, and indeed something we should be worrying about, a lot. In a way the situation is more unstable than before the USSR fell. But no one ever talks about it in public. Everyone thinks ah, cold war over, we are safe. yay. no nuclear holocaust. think again, people.

Here in the Capital its a constant fume filled noisy polluted mess. My cough has gotten worse, logically, again since getting here from the relatively more fresh air of the coast and the Lago Izabal area.

Anyway, this afternoon after my laundry is done I am hopping a four hour bus back to Xela, staying a night there in town, and then tommorrow getting a bus in the afternoon out ot the Escuela de la Montana, the mountain school, which is another location that my school has, on a former coffee plantation out in the country. So ill be away from the internet for all next week. I'll probably check it one last time tommorrow morning. Then maybe i will come into town the next weekend just to get on the internet, and maybe get a change of pace, and then ill be at the mountain school again for another week.
After that i head out of Guatemala and north into Chiapas, Mexico.

I have lots of good photos I'd love to show you but i am out of time again today. hopefully tommorrow morning. Ive been given a free pro account on Flickr too, so maybe i'll upload a whole bunch. yay.

re: Out of the Frying Pan, back into the Smog

Steev:I just wanted to tell you how much I've appreciated reading your blogs. About twenty years ago (in the midst of the various wars of Central America) I took a very similar journey through the region, for about a year and a half (divorce, midlife, long story). I stayed in many of the same places you did, had a thousand scary adventures, and similarly avoided contact with tourist traps and tourists.Keep writing. I love it. It brings back all sorts of wonderful memories. I look forward to finding a name or place I recognize in each post.(Incidentally, I go back to Guatemala every summer for a week or so, and I love staying in the crime ridden down town, but to each his/her own).Peace,Stan

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.