Friday, December 30, 2011

If You Don't Hear From Me Again...

For some reason, we had to do one last tour of the town before leaving, but of course this included visiting another coffee shop we had not yet tried out. They make the best espresso drinks here. Ron suggested we look at the other dock, the one where boats go to the different villages than the ones we had been to. It was much smaller and less congested, but there were still multiple men trying to get us on boats.

I have this thing about checking our room multiple times to make sure we don’t miss a thing. As we were leaving, we ran into the guys next door as they were swinging in the hammocks. We said good-bye, but that is as involved as the conversation went. All of our bags were now downstairs waiting for the shuttle to arrive at noon. Standing there waiting, the three amigos came out and were standing around also. They never uttered a syllable.

The shuttle arrived on the dot in this time zone, 10 minutes late. It was empty so we thought we hit the jackpot on seat choices, but the driver told us he needed to put all of the luggage on the roof rack; he had other things to collect that needed the back space. Something new to worry about: our luggage hurling at sixty miles an hour over some cliff somewhere as we hit a pothole in the road. We climb into the van, followed by guess who? The three amigos climbed into the van too. Only because we asked, they said they were going to Guatemala City too. All during the 3 hour ride, they each played with their iPhone, ignoring each other and us as well. It turned out they were going to the airport to return home. Two of them are going to Mexico City and the other is continuing on to San Antonio, TX.

Another half hour and we were at our hotel. OMG, the neighborhood was enough to give me the heebie jeebies. Every hotel we have stayed at thus far has locked front doors. You have to ring a bell to get in; no keys are supplied for self access once you check in. That alone is telling. Once inside, the hotel is outstanding. As they claim they have over 300 Mayan artifacts, making them a true museum, part of their business name. Someone has great taste when they decorated the place; it is exceptional. Too bad the city is not. Ron said there were two differing comments in the travel guide regarding Guatemala City: big, dirty, dangerous, and fascinating or big, dirty, dangerous, and forgettable.

Just as in Cape Town the advice is to take a taxi if going out or returning once it is dark out. A difference being there is a sign posted in the lobby here, stating do not wear any jewelry outside, be cautious, etc. etc. There was a young man sitting in the lobby when we arrived. While Ron was checking in, I quizzed him about the place. He was only meeting someone here, not staying, but said that his tour book listed only 3 hotels in Zone 1 as being safe. This was number 1 for safety within this zone. Zone 1 in the city is where the museums and government buildings are, but also the bus stations where gangs and drug dealers congregate along side of the red light district. One stop shopping for all of your vice needs.

Out we went while it was still light out. Neither of us took our shoulder bag nor did we take cameras. It was a shame as there were some good shots that we missed. I would hate to have my $800 camera become someone’s New Year’s present. Finding the central square, it was filled with people, but not glorious or glamorous buildings. We stopped for a beer, then chicken at their version of KFC. 

Finally on the way back, we stopped at a deli that offered freshly made tamales. We bought four for breakfast, because we couldn’t remember if we had the breakfast plan or not. The alternative was to pay $7.00 US for the basic breakfast, 9.00 for the upgrade and 11.00 for the superior. Other meals are on offer too, but the prices are way different than the outer regions. There really isn’t much in this city to be a draw that can demand those kinds of prices within a small hotel. The four tamales only cost us 1.85 Euros a piece and they are huge.

When I asked if they had WiFi, I was given the pass code with the notation at the bottom that it cost $5.00 US a day. Fortunately for me, there is an unsecured WiFi connection that is costing me nothing. The thought did cross our mind to move our travel plans up a day, but this is paid for and there is little running on New Year’s Day, which is the reason Ron planned our departure for January 2nd. Keep us in your positive thoughts, we are going to need them.

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