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Xela, a good night´s sleep

GUATEMALA | Wednesday, 4 April 2007 | Views [979] | Comments [1]

Dining in the plaza of Parque Centroamerica

Dining in the plaza of Parque Centroamerica

As I sit here in Antigua on my final night in Guatemala I´m thinking over the good and the bad of the past two weeks.

The good: this land is gorgeous 

Guatemala´s landscape is truly amazing and diverse. You want the beach? The pacific slope´s got it. You want a lake? See my last blog on Lago De Atitlàn. Ruins? Yep, Mayan temples galore. Etc., etc.

CHEAP! Have I mentioned that it costs around $3 a night for a bed in most towns here? And in some wonderful hostels that can include breakfast. Oh and it´s cost me at most $4 to get across country on a bus. Albeit a chicken bus but hey, that´s cheap transportation.  Meals run about $2-3 for main courses including a drink and soup. The most expensive tour I went on for a day of a guided hike, swimming, lunch and transportation cost me $35. It´s going to be difficult to travel in Costa Rica next since it sounds expensive in comparison to Guatemala.

The bad: Theft, theft and theft

Everywhere we have been we meet some unfortunate soul that has been ripped off, robbed or threatened. Just today we met a girl who was held at gunpoint here in Antigua last week for her mobile phone.  We´ve been so paranoid at every market and on every bus that we haven´t been able to let our guards down when we meet a friendly local.  I hate that every time a smiling Guatemalan walks over to speak to me my instinct is to wrap my hand around my backpack. I´d love to truly get to know the people of this country but all the horror stories have made it difficult to trust anyone.

So we´ve made it back to Antigua for the night. Surprisingly we found a room without any problem despite that it is possibly the busiest week of the year in Antigua. Guatemalans and tourists flock to Antigua for the popular processions and celebrations held here during Semana Santa (Holy Week). Room rates are twice as much as they were when we stopped by last week but we figured it would be nicer to stay in Antigua rather than the capital before we leave tomorrow afternoon.

The last few days have been mostly uneventful. The huge markets of Chichi came and went. I found the vendors to be much more willing to bargain than they were elsewhere and my full change was returned with every purchase.  I was pleasantly surprised that the people of the Chichi markets were much more honest than the vendors from previous markets. But mostly I´ve spent my days tired and wanting sleep. See, I´m a city girl used to ¨city noises¨, my ears are not accustomed to the sounds of the farm. However it´s been unavoidable as most places we stay have chickens and roosters roaming the grounds. Back in San Marcos a very vocal cat would wake us at 5:00am wanting to be fed. Then soon after dogs would begin to bark and mostly get into fights with each other (at least that is what it sounded like.) I thought once we left we would be free from the animal alarm clock. No such luck....after San Marcos we spent two nights in Panajachel where a rooster would wake us every hour, almost on the hour beginning at 2:00am. I was beginning to seriously contemplate giving up my vegetarian diet to murder and enjoy a tasty rooster soup. Or maybe a rooster stew. But I suppressed my urge to strangle the rooster when I passed it in the morning and just hoped that Xela would provide for a quiet night´s sleep. At last, I had two glorious evenings rooster-free. No caved in mattresses, no ABBA music blaring from the bar, no slamming bathroom doors...just two blissful quiet evenings on a fairly decent mattress.

Xela (pronounced Shay-lay) is Guatemala´s second largest city and a popular destination for Spanish schools (second to Antigua).  The Spanish schools provide for a large student population so the city feels fairly hip. Others come to the city as a base for trekking to the mountains or volcanoes. Trish and I were there just to hang out, look for a South America guidebook and basically sip coffee all afternoon to take cover from the rain. It has rained every afternoon for the past 5 days. I think the rainy season decided to arrive a little early this year.

So I sit in my last Guatemalan cafe...un poco triste. A part of me wishes I had more time to explore the country and live with a Guatemalan family while taking a Spanish course. Another part of me is very ready to move on and see a new country. We have a lot of ground to cover in just three months so we better keep moving.

See you all next time from Costa Rica.....adios!

Tags: On the Road




I have worn ear plugs everywhere I have travelled, so, I feel your pain!

  Tami Apr 7, 2007 3:39 AM

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