Day 53: Antigua - Santa Ana - Parque Nacional Cerro Verde (1)
San Cristobal Frontera Travel Blog› entry 71 of 120 › view all entries
Less than three hours sleep later I took a minibus to Guatemala City, from where I would take a bus to country number 4: El Salvador.
I have to hurry a bit now, as I am meeting a friend in Costa Rica on 17 February, so that means I only have 16 days for the three countries that lie in between.
Looking back on Guatemala I regard this country as yet another unexpected highlight of my trip. Like Belize this was a very pleasant surprise. Despite the horror stories about how dangerous the country is, the country proved to be remarkably easy to travel and the people are really nice and friendly. It is tempting to compare Guatemala to Mexico, especially the province of Solola, which directly borders the Mexican state of Chiapas. The people here have similar roots and culture, but I found the Guatemalans at least 100 times nicer, and much better cooks as well. At least in Guatemala they know the concept of fresh vegetables and they have less tendency to use the same spicy sauce in each and every dish.
I can really recommend Guatemala to anyone. The country is so diverse! There are mountains, jungle, volcanoes, beaches and Mayan ruins. Some caution is needed, but travelling is nowhere near as dangerous as people would make you believe.
Besides, you get used to it, seeing armed guards on every street corner. You see armed guards positioned at banks and government buildings throughout Latin America, but in Guatemala they go one step further. So you can expect to enter McDonald’s and be greeted by a broad shouldered guard, ammunition belt draped over his shoulder, shotgun in hand, finger on the trigger... But as I said, you get used to it. The very same guard will smile at you and will happily point you in the right direction if you can’t find your way.
The border crossing from Guatemala to El Salvador was a piece of cake. One of the easiest land crossings I have ever experienced. It is obvious these two countries are on much better terms than Guatemala and Belize are.
Officials of the two countries are sitting side by side like chums, and the whole border crossing procedure did not take more than five minutes. Simple as that.
So far this has also been the only border crossing where I have been allowed to take photos.