The first disappointing daytrip - to ´Toto´

Totonicapan Travel Blog

 › entry 14 of 125 › view all entries

I don't know if it's right to ever say that something is a waste of time, because of course, you always learn something or take something from bad experiences, but going to Totonicapan was a mistake.

Not only was this the first bad decision that I've made on my trip but it was also the first time that the Lonely Planet guide has been considerably inaccurate for me.  It really made 'Toto', as it is called, appear charming and enjoyable, of which neither adjective applied.

I guess Lise and I woke up too late or got going too late, we shouldn't have sat down for breakfast.  By the time we got across the lake and were back in Panajachel it was already too late to get to Chichicastenango for the Sunday market so we looked in our Lonely Planet and found a place within a couple hours bus ride that sounded nice.

  The book referred to Aguas Calientes and other nice attractions.  The ride to Toto was pretty fun and we joked along the way.  The Highlands were quite remarkable and if it wasn't for the destination I would have said it was a good trip. 

As we pulled into Toto we could immediately tell that we had made a mistake.  The city was much larger than we had expected.  Another mistake we made was heading to a place that obviously does not receive a lot of tourists on a Sunday.  As a result we spent about 30 minutes trying to find one shop that was open so that we could sit down, go to the bathroom and get something to eat and try to collect ourselves.  The first place we looked at to stay in was the worst place I have ever seen in my life and I'm not really kidding around.

  The woman who worked there showed me the bedroom and I almost couldn't hold in the burst of laughter that was forcing its way out of my throat.  Lise and I looked at eachother and with our eyes communicated that under no circumstances were we staying there.  I respectfully said that we would continue looking and left the place.  I wish that I had taken a picture so to show everyone really what the place was like, but that clearly would have been very rude.  It honestly looked like a prison cell, from a bad underfunded prison.

Anyway we moved on and decided to grab something to eat.  We sat in a cafe and ordered some noodles.  The place was dark and shady and no one else was there to eat.  Then some local youth came in and sat at a nearby table.

  The noodles were actually pretty good but unfortunately they attracted about a hundred flies that made eating them hardly bearable.  I looked up and saw fly tape hanging from the ceiling all over the restaurant covered in hundreds of dead flies.

Then we went to look for the hostel that was recommended in the book.  By this time we starting to think that maybe if the rest of the write up was wrong, maybe the part about the hostel would be wrong too.  We started walking around trying to find the address and this old man started running towards with with clenched fists.  I turned around and realized that he was running after a young guy.  They met and started throwing punches at eachother.  We quickly turned the corner and the young came sprinting past us with a scared look on his face.

  At this point I was almost hit by a car and Lisa said something along the lines of 'What have we gotten ourselves into.." when a dog came limping by us dragging one leg.  At this we burst out laughing, obviously not at the dog, but at what an unfortunate place we had come to. 

We finally came to the street that the hostel was said to be and started looking.  We finally figured out how the addresses worked and walked the entire street looking for this and we never found it.  As we were starting to get desperate we came across a cemetary where a funeral was ending and everyone was filing out.  An old woman asked us if we were lost and we said that we certainly were.  We told her what we were trying to find and she said that she and her husband would walk us there.

  These two turned out to be beacons of kindness and hope.  Really really beautiful people.  They were actually quite old and walked very slowly.  I walked and spoke with the man in Spanish and Lisa walked with the woman and pretended to understand what she was saying.  Lise said that she thought that the woman knew that Lise didn't understand anything but just wanted to talk to someone.  When I introduced myself the man told me that his name was Tocayu which I thought was pretty interesting.  (I later learned that this means "My name is the same") so his name must have been Josue.  I still haven't looked into this but I will when I get a chance.  When they dropped us off at the hostel we gave them hugs and the woman kissed Lise on the cheek and we thanked them so much for their kindness and help and said goodbye.

The hostel itself was pretty decent so we set up shop.  We were pretty burnt out from the travel and unimpressed with the town but decided to go out anyway.  Everyone in town was out 'enjoying' the town square.  The square was like any other central american town centre park and pretty unimpressive.  We grabbed a couple cokes and headed back to the hostel and just chilled out before going to bed. 

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photo by: Yoshu