Safety in Guatemala
Guatemala Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
My first trip for 2009 is a 17-day solo backpacking tour of Guatemala (March 10-26). For transportation I used the overnight bus (Tikal to Guatemala City), local and chicken buses to get around, even the pickup trucks and boats.
The most memorable was when my ADN bus arrived at its terminal in G.City. An armed guard opened the solid gate and quickly closed it after the bus had reversed into the garage. Then we were ushered into the office, where the front door was closed and a 2x6 plank propped against the door to prevent forced entry. No one seemed in a hurry to leave the terminal. The armed guard finally gave the all clear and opened the door just a crack. Then people started to leave with their pre-arranged transportation. Mine came some 30 mins late with my name on the sign, and my private shuttle van went around other bus terminals (Rapido Sur and Linea Dorada) to pick up other passengers also bound for Antigua.
There were armed guards (military) and police personnel in the Artisan's market in Antigua, likely due to its proximity to the bus terminal and because Antigua is the gem of the tourism industry. One evening I sat at the same table (for dinner) as a bunch of policemen inside the mercado, and they were a friendly bunch.
While I was there, every time I peered over someone's shoulder to see the headlines, it was all bad news and gory photos ..... accidents, bus drivers shot and slumped over the steering wheels, hijacking of vehicles, artist's rendition of some violent gun play, etc.
But despite all that, I personally never felt unsafe and had no problems there at all. In fact, it was my best trip ever, met lots of nice people including the locals.
The Guatemala I experienced was different from the one depicted in the news and evidenced by strong police and military presence. I personally LOVE GUATEMALA and find it an amazing, incredible destination.