Or I loved it but it’s harsh….. oh, and Belize the same.
ALERT: I’M SHOWING YOU THE PRETTY PICTURES SO I DON’T PUT YOU OFF COMING HERE WITH WHAT I SAY! A LOT OF GUATEMALA HASN’T BEEN POSTED YET AND THIS IS ONLY GETTING DONE AS I’VE BUGGERED MY FOOT HERE IN MEXICO SO AM HAVING TIME OUT AND REST AT THE POSH MARRIOT IN VILLAHERMOSA.
The change in atmosphere of Central America was to me startling. I know it’s reputation but I’d been in places in South America that had been sketchy so I thought it would be fine to my seasoned travelling know how.
Alone and scared in Guatemala City
It was not. It felt scared.
I had booked into zone 10 which is supposed to be the safest and most opulent but still, it felt uneasy. I cabbed it to the hotel and immediately saw that basically we were caged in to protect ourselves. It wasn’t until the following day I really got it. I went to the Popul Vuh museum that was fantastic but on leaving had a problem with how to get a safe taxi in this area. Finally, after many thwarted attempts I asked at the museum and they booked for me. This seemed crazy I had to get a chip for safety this place was clearly menacing. Even going to the nearby mall was a challenge and armed guards were on every corner. I bought a chip for my phone from a Claro kiosk so I would have a number and data and uploaded my old friend the Uber app so I wouldn’t get stuck at more remote venues. Having done this I felt much better. I would not leave myself defenceless here. Not cool 😎
I had travelled all over South America and not once felt so vulnerable and threatened, indeed that night I heard a guest from the hotel had been robbed right outside at 9 at night.
Although I had a fabulous time there and there are magnificent things of great beauty, this essentially is a third world country that is violent and difficult for a solo traveller let alone a female one. Think long and hard my old birds about travelling here. I met up with a snorkelling pal from the Philippines last year but still did a lot alone because we had only the snorkelling in common as to what we wanted to do. Both of us found sections very threatening and only super touristy venues are safe ish!
ALERT: Let’s be clear I’m not exaggerating. In lake Atitlán my friend wanted to climb the San Pedro Volcano and could have if he wanted to risk being mugged and or attacked. Countless reports on Trip Advisor and other social media reported being attacked and robbed by men wielding machetes. Most also took shoes and jackets as well as the obvious valuables. No back street should be deemed safe. No going out after dark. No touristy bling. No having alcohol unless you’re at your hotel or have organised a cab. People have been robbed on less popular sites and ruins. Things left in rooms, especially in Belize where most people travel to for snorkelling while in Guatemala, have been cleaned out while people are on the boat tours they came for. No opening wallets in public. No using your phone on the street unless you stop in a doorway of a reputable shop to do so viewing all around as potential thieves. As much as you don’t want to go down empty streets you don’t want to be in crowds either. Sorry about this but I need to get this into your heads before you go so you are safe. Once you’re aware of all this then you can enjoy what is a majestic and historically rich country with an abundance of things to do.
I was in Guatemala City until my mate arrived then we went straight onto Cobán by bus. We arrived at night and although together, we were scared shitless.
Stayed there two days until arduous journey (the horrible desperate for a wee bus journey) to the legend that is Semuc Champey.
(you need to go to San Augustin Languin first) then it’s a 4×4 bone-rattling ride to the place. (I had booked the hotel closest to the entrance which was a very wise move)
After two nights there we had to return to Coban to get a bus to Flores (many encounters with some vile young Israeli travellers) which was a nightmare.
Onto Tikal and Yaxja
Two nights there (I had serious food poisoning and had to stay in bed) then on to Tikal (I stayed two nights there and also visited another site Yaxja where I fell over in the mud running from the howler monkeys)
Then onto Belize and Caye Caulker for snorkelling (fabulous nearly as good as Bunaken Indonesia).
Belize Caye Caulker for Snorkelling.
Then another crushing bus ride (literally, the man in front of me had a faulty seat and kept pushing it back and crushing my legs) to Guatemala City and onto Antigua then lake Atitlán for three nights (oldest church in Central America),
….. then Antigua one (placed my hand on McDonalds private parts),
One last night in Guatemala City.
…..Guatemala City and last one at an airport hotel (extremely nice and cheap and two minutes from the airport). As you can see it was hectic but for the most part soooo worth it.
The entire trip was either terror, wonder or long bus journeys so be prepared it’s harsh mistress but a worthy one.