Day 26 – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Today we crossed into Guatemala.  The border crossing took just over an hour, and would have cost us a lot more if we hadn´t had a heads up from Tom, who had crossed a few days earlier.  We knew that Tom had paid a ¨helper¨plus all the entry fees for around $25 total.  Our helper was initially trying to get $80 per motorcycle out of us.  Also, Ted had let it slip that we were passing through Guatemala on the way to Honduras and beyond.  There was an extra transito fee for this, something like $200.  I insisted that we were only going to visit lake Atitlan and then return to Mexico.  In the end, we got across for $55 + 100 Quetzals (There are 7.5 Quetzals in a dollar), avoiding the transito fee.

The border area was sketchy.  We were accosted by people trying to change our Pesos and dollars for Quetzals, at awful rates.  Kids crowded around the bikes begging for change.  I was glad that I could watch the bikes while Ted went into one building after getting all the required documents in order.

My first meal in Guatemala was a nice change from the overly spicy fare we had been eating in Mexico.  It consisted of rice and beans (of course) and chicken.  Even with two bottles of pop, the bill only came to 28 Quetzals.  The hotel we´re staying in tonight (a motorcycle hotel) is only 200 Quetzals.  And that´s for the whole night, not just a few hours.  Plus there are two King sized beds in the room – we got the one and only luxury suite.  And best of all, there is a toilet seat and a shower curtain, which is luxury compared to what we were able to find in Oaxaca two nights before in a steamy town called Rio Grande which seemed to be built right on a swamp.  It was only 200 Pesos, but it was not designed for Gringos.  It was a neat place and I enjoyed staying there, despite the lack of facilities.  There was an open air lobby, archways, and hanging vines.  We walked down the road to find food.  We bought tacos from a vendor who had 6 kids and 5 dogs.  8 tacos, 3 cokes, and a Corona came to 65 pesos.

For our last night in Mexico, we camped by the side of a river just off the highway in the state of Chiapas.  I awoke to find that an ant colony had adopted my boot.  I sat inside my tent, staring at the eruption of red ants coming out of my boot in helpless disbelief.  I might have stayed like that for hours, but Ted rescued me by grabbing my boot and beating it against a rock.

We spent two weeks in Mexico.  Highlights were Copper canyon, the volcano at Colima, the city of Colima itself, and the coast between El Faro and Playa Azul.  If you were flying into Mexico, and had a week to spend, I would highly recommend flying into Colima.  Colima is my favourite city of all the cities I´ve visited in Mexico.  I could live there.  It´s broad tree lined boulevards, palmy plazas surrounded by sidewalk cafes, and well preserved colonial architecture make it stand out.  Also, I had two excellent meals in Colima (I had two excellent meals the whole time I was in Mexico).  Colima is also cleaner by far than a lot of Mexican cities.  The people are also very friendly (true of all of Mexico), but especially so in Colima.

The Volcano is worth a whole day, but you could see it in a morning.  The village of Comala, just a few minutes outside of Colima, is a great place to see the Volcano if you´re not adventurous enought to try to get up the side.  From Colima it is only a short drive to the coast on excellent highways.  It would definetely be worth renting a car in Colima and exploring the coast towards El Faro and beyond.  It is not crowded, and you´ll have miles of fantastic sandy beaches all to yourself.

If you want to just fly into a place and stay there the entire time without renting a car, I would recommend Puerto Escondido, which is further south in the State of Oaxaca.  It is much less crowded than Acapulco (which is way too crowded).  Pto Escondido has a great gently sloping uncrowded beach with cabanas overlooking the ocean.  The town is big enough that you´d have your choice of restaurants, but it has been missed by the hordes of tourists that mob places like Acapulco.

PS
There are more pictures at www.kodakgallery.com (use tysonbrust@yahoo.com with password klr650 to view them).  I was able to upload a few pictures in Acapulco, but it took forever.  It will be hard to find internet connections fast enough to upload many more, but I´ll do my best.

3 thoughts on “Day 26 – Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

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