I arrived in Guatemala without much fanfare – no ticker tape, no marching bands or keys to the city, and hardly any customs or security. The passengers from the flights practically strolled on through to the city, only pausiing to pick up their bags and casually have their passports stamped.
To get to the house where I was staying, I teamed up with two other Americans going to Antigua to share a cab to our respective destinations. As it turned out, none of us went where we expected. Apparently, many of the bus stations had moved or shut down, and the address I had was now a rehab center for girls on the street.
Despite the initial surprises and the afternoon downpour, I arrived where I needed to go and came away with two interesting points.
Guatemala City is a dynamic place. You might as well throw the Lets Go guidebook out the window (which might be best so you don’t look like a sitting duck and thus pay more attention to the environment).
The second point came from how fast we went through customs. Unlike any other country I have been to, foreigners were not stopped at all, taking on 2 to 3 minutes to pass through. While not trying to look too deeply into this one incident, it strikes me as ironic because, historically, Western companies have had basic free range to exploit in Latin America. (See United Fruit Company and Guatemala).
Anyways, it will be interesting to see how these points play out over my time here.
Posted By Charles Wright (Guatemala)
Posted Oct 6th, 2006