Arriving in Guatemala

Guatemala Travel Blog

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"Orine Feliz, Orine Contento pero por favor orine adentro". A urinal on the street next to the bus to Chichi.

I arrived in Guatemala on Saturday September 29 at 15:26 from New York with a stop in Ft lauredale, FL.
I used Spirit Air ($281 R/T taxes incl.) This was very good price.

My first impression was of a very modern, clean and elegant airport which is not finished yet but it has beautiful new  marble floors, modern bathrooms and a few expensive designer stores.

My luggage took a long time to arrive, other people's luggage arrived but mine did not until a second batch came in after another half hour.

While waiting for it, I talked to a very elegant and pretty middle aged woman and her daughter who said she was from Costa Rica and have lived for 40 years in different cities among them,  New York, Mexico,  and now in Guatemala. She said her husband was a diplomat and her younger daughter was born in NY.
She was coming from NY where  she visited a son.
I asked her if she liked living in Guatemala and she said she loved it.
She belongs to the  minority of people belonging to the high class in Guatemala, and I assumed that I would not see her world on this trip.

I changed money in BANRURAL at the airport just a few steps from where the luggage arrived. There were two banks, this one and Banco Quetzal, but Banrural offered  $7.65 for one dollar, 10 cents more than Banco del Quetzal.
 The tourist office was also next to the bank and I got maps and other things.

I arrived at 15:26 and left the airport at 16:30. I looked for a guy named Juancho that my friend Nelson from Princeton said would go to meet me but I did not see him.

I took a cab (70 Quetzals, about $10 dlls) to the bus that would take me to Chichicastenango.
 The last one was leaving at 5 or 6 pm and I did not want to miss it.
I wanted to be for the Sunday market in Chichi.
In Guatemala is not safe to travel when is it dark I was told by everyone, locals and other travelers.

It is so exciting the first day of  a new trip!!

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The taxi from the airport took me to a streeet where the buses to Chichi where departing. There were two buses, very old and  painted very colorful. These buses are purchased from American School Buses companies when they retire them.  I went to the one I was told was the first one departing.

End of Life Vehicle Treatment and Recycling: Guatemala is a recycling country who buys vehicles at the end of their useful life. Others might say that they are a 'throwaway or dumping' country, but the buses serve their purpose and transport thousand of people across the country every day. Rather than ending up in landfill these buses help to move people from one place to another. I only wish they would have also a second category of buses in better shape and more comfortable charging higher fares to give people a choice like the buses in Mexico. They have First class and second class in Mexico wich is used by Mexicans. In Guatemala there are good buses to a couple of destinations basically for tourists and vans to the touristic places also more expensive but you do not meet any locals travelling that way.


My first shock started when I got into the bus.  I was not prepared to see a bus with an aisle that was barely a feet wide, the 2 seats almost meet on the middle. I did not see how I could  pass to the back with my backpack in order to get a sit. There were 6 people to each  row. 3 on each seat. There were mostly young  men. I spoke Spanish  but I looked out of place when I said "Como se puede pasar hacia atras, este autobus parece muy lleno, me ire al otro aunque tenga que esperar", nobody answered they did not show any reaction. I went to the other bus and took the front row seat behind the driver. The trip took about 2.5 hours from Guatemala to Chichicastenango and the price $30 Q, or 4 Dlls. I also bought water for 5 Q from a vendor.

I observed all the people that came to board the bus. Mayan young women with a Huipil (Blouse) and a skirt typical Mayan. They looked like they worked in the capital, and were going home for the weekend, they had no luggage. Some couples also Mayan with cellulars taking in Mayan language. and mostly men. I waited in the bus until the driver came we were on a side street of a wide boulevard with many trees in what it looked like a good zone. Amongst themselves they spoke in their language but when I asked questions in Spanish they responded. They were bilingual, maybe even trilingual or more?. Their typical carry on was a piece of Mayan clothing tied on corners with their belongings inside forming like a small parcel. A pretty woman, like 20 years old sat in front of me wearing a beautiful very clean and ironed yellow huipil with a skirt with yellows and some other colors.  She remained silent and did not talk to anyone. Most people on the bus kept to themselves.
A few feet from the bus there wa a place for man to urinate. I took a picture, It had the inscription rhyiming in Spanish "Orine feliz, orine contento,  pero por favor orine adentro", I had a laugh when I saw it. It means to urinate happy but to do it inside of the stall. I guess people do it outside.

The road was good and had at least two lines, which surprised me, that looked like a good road. The driver kept passing the other buses and cars and driving faster than them. He seemed very experienced and never decreased the speed even when taking the sharpest hairpin  turns.
Scary,  Scary!! The road had many, many  hairpin turns and was very uphill. The driver drove super fast and in very sharp turns it felt like being in a ride inside of a 180 degree spinner. My body moved all the way from one end of the seat to the other, I had to grip myself very hard. The driver had very loud music during the whole trip,  Spanish ranchero music, some songs from Mexico that I recognized. People got off and on the bus several times and new people got in in each small village. This is  a very democratic transportation system, everybody is allowed to get in, even if there are no seats and drivers stop any place you tell them to stop to let you off.

 Although I felt scared  I liked the experience, I got a lot of adrenaline running on my blood from this ride. It was  surreal!
I thought the possibility of having an accident was not very remote!
My family would not even know what had happened to me when I did not make any contact with them.
sylviandavid says:
What is it about Mexican bus drivers?..... My theory is they are wannabe Taxidrivers....
Posted on: Feb 15, 2009
Orine Feliz, Orine Contento pero …
"Orine Feliz, Orine Contento pero…