Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Across Guatemala and Guatemala City

Petrol Station security

You get to Guatemala City driving down the high mountains to the capital. The first thing we saw was a residential area where the rich lived, I guess, due to the size of the houses and the amount of private security guards with huge shot guns.

Guatemala Countryside

Guatemala City

The cop was escorting the lorry driver

Weapons are a very common thing to see in Central America and other caribbean countries. They are all over and carried normally by security guards

Shotguns can be seen in petrol stations, banks, supermarkets and even a simple bakery. It is a bit intimidating at first, if you come from a country where you barely see them. But after a couple of days you realize that probably they never used it, or at least that’s what it seems.

The smiles and warmth of the people help you to forget their presence.

Guatemala Champas [poor areas]

Lorries were huge!

On the way to Golfo de Honduras

But the more we were driving down to Guatemala City, the more things were changing.

The city center is as chaotic as any big city in the area, lots of cars and wee shops in the sides of the road. No traffic lights and rules, fearless people crossing everywhere, kids on bicycles in the middle of the motorways and huge old US lorries overtaking everywhere.

I found strange trucks ran on petrol, I’ve never seen anything like this before. In Europe they run on diesel. Maybe it’s because the petrol is so cheap there? The smoke was lethal anyway, and highly contaminating.
You have to be extremely cautious, [and cheeky at the same time] if you want to drive in this countries.

Keeping an eye on the beers

I drive here in Madrid where I work most of the time, so I’m OK.

After our stop in Guatemala city we did carry on driving to 'Rio Dulce' all evening.

But soon as we were getting outside the city we were stuck in a huge 'traffic jam' It took us about 2 or 3 hours. We weren’t moving at all. We asked other cars and someone told us that apparently there was an accident and we had to wait there until they cleared the road.

Time to pull over and get something to eat. I had a great breakfast at me mate’s place that morning [Fried eggs with onions and tomato 'Huevos estrellados' and a kind of mashed black beans], the typical breakfast food, along with the very popular 'Pupusas' which is a kind of stuffed delicious corn tortillas you can buy almost everywhere in El Salvador. They call them 'Pupuserias'.

They are all over.

So then, it was going to be my first food experience in Guatemala. I was a bit concerned about the change of diet on these countries. Neither because i didn’t trust their food, nor that im picky person when it comes to the grub either. But we, western cultures, eat every day more and more things that are far from what we call 'fresh food', so everything is packed, sterilised etc etc.... so sometimes it can be a huge change. Considering my mum works in a hospital, I was warned about that, maybe too much, but I have to say, for all the time I was there, I didn’t have any single problem with my stomach at all.

The food was simply delicious. Vegetables, exotic fruits, very fresh fish etc,.even the local beer&juice cocktails were fantastic. And everything so cheap

Car Crash

What the fuck?!

As soon as we were leaving Guatemala city and right after seeing the accident crash , we were again on a very curvy road in the high mountains crossing wee little villages on the way, where we made ourselves again pretty popular due to me mate's watercraft.

The view was stunning. So was the driving!

My mate Antonio Blanco Rodriguez [Tony], who is always been a good driver I have to say [Bikes included], seemed pretty used to it and very confident.
You have to be over there.

Bakery, All shops are behind bars

Golden Rules for the driving in Guatemala or Honduras.

-Blind Curves are ideal for passing. If you find a car /truck right then in front of you, dont worry , he will go out of the way.

-Use Horn in All Situations

-Green light signals start of the race.

-Red Light means 'Watch out I'm coming through'

-All Garbage goes out the window immediately.

When driving at night at least one headlight must be out of order at all times.

-In all city driving situations, jungle rules apply.

-Cars or vans don’t need plate number, why for? Also car glasses can be all full black so you don’t see the drivers.

Around 7 or 8 pm it was getting dark and my friend Antonio Blanco Rodriguez [Tony ]c ommented that it was not safe to drive at night, in fact it is not recommendable anywhere in Central America. Maybe nothing happens if you do, but is safer not to.

So after see lots of anonymous cars passing by [See last driving rule above], I thought pulling into the nearest motel would be the proper and best thing to do. Can’t remember the small town where we stopped, The Motel was called 'Letty' and I think It was before Zacapa on the way to Izabal , where we could find our 'Rio Dulce' finally.

It had a swimming pool.

We only needed to drive about 3 or 4 hours more in the morning.

The way to Rio Dulce was the best of the journey. You could tell we were in the deep countryside.It was a beautiful sunrise and the mountains were all shrouded by low clouds.

End Of Part 3

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