Thursday, July 30, 2009

The road...

Jueves, 30 Agosto 2009

I write from the Black Cat Hostel in Antigua. It´s the middle of my week of travelling Guatemala to see a little more of the country. Sunday Willy and Sandra and I drove from Barillas to Guatemala City (12 hours), all seated in the front of a pick-up truck. Let´s just say I was glad when it was over...

They dropped me off at a bus company in the City where I was to begin my first leg of the journey. Upon a friend´s advice I had booked all my travels through a tourist travel company because it would be safer and I would have my entire itinerary set. Trying to do the country in a week leaves no time for missed buses and extra nights somewhere.

When I got to the bust station I was met by a travel agency rep holding a sign with my name. I paid him the total for all my travels, he pocketed the money and then went to the ticket counter a few feet away and bought my bus ticket from the bus company for almost half the price I paid him!! I was immediately upset. At myself because I realized how I had led myself into this. At the company for charging such an exuberant price for a service that I could have easily accomplished if I had known about it.

Well, you live and you learn. Next time I travel I trust myself more to find the bargains I know I can and do my own ticket shopping. And, next time I will not try to see an entire country in only a week!

The 9pm overnight bus (a charter bus, I slet pretty well and was happy I wasn´t paying for a hotel that night) took us to Flores, a small island town outside of Tikal. We got off the bus at 5am and were immediately surrounded by bus drivers who offered us hotel rooms or wanted to take us to where we going. This time, though, I was ready. I said, no I already have a hotel (I didn´t) and I knew where I was going (I didn´t) unless they wanted to take me there for free, which they didn´t.

Since Sunday night I have reverted back to my bargain-minded (some people might call it ´cheap´) self, constantly trying to make up for the money I´ve wasted.

Tikal was magnificent. We got there in the afternoon as most people were leaving and got to explore the ruins with the general absence of other people. I saw the monkeys clowning around in the trees and then watched as they came down to run on the ground (at times on just 2 legs-it was like watching Planet of the Apes) which was cool. I bribed the guards to watch the sunset from Temple IV after the park officially closed and rose at 3:45 for a tour to the Temples to hear the jungle wake up. Again. we had to bribe the guards to get in before the park officially opens at 6.

From Tikal I came here and climbed Volcan Pacaya last night, which was very cool! We got up close and roasted marshmallows over the lava (though I could also feel the skin on my cheeks roasting, it was HOT!!). Today I have explored Antigua a little more (it´s a very pretty little colonial town and has great architecture and ruins. But, there´s also a huge gringo population and most of the shops have the same feel.

At Lake Atitlan, I will relax for a few days before returning to Guate on Sunday. It will be great to just sit back and enjoy the lake after the past few busy days of travel and bus long bus rides.

I wish I could upload pictures and offer a better description of the things I´ve seen, but don´t have enough time.

The past week of moving around the country has made me value even more the experience in Barillas because I was truly able to get to know the city, the people, and the Guatemalan culture. I was able to share food and spend time in the villages, and come to know the struggles facing the poor communities and Guatemala as a country in general. This light-speed travelling barely gives me a taste of each place I visit.

I guess I will just have to come back again to see all the places I have missed and get to know the country a littl better.

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