Adios Mexico, Hola Guatemala

We went to a cool canyon today called Canon del Sumidero. It was formed thirty two, hundred, million, thousand years ago when a lightning bolt from the very same space storm responsible for the moon craters, struck a bit of Mexico with such ferocity that it snapped a mountain in two. Nah it didn’t. I’m not sure how it was formed as the boat driver who did the tour spoke only in Spanish, and the lovely Mexican lady who was also on the trip and who translated for me and Dom, hadn’t started speaking to us when he did the history bit. This is the place though. Do your own research.

As well as not knowing how the canyon came to be, we didn’t get any film or photo evidence of our trip down river, as I didn’t take my iPad in fear of losing it, and Dom forgot her phone and memory card. We were debating whether or not to return the following day to get some pics, but why do a once in a lifetime thing twice?

The canyon was awesome. We saw crocs, vultures, other birds, iguanas and the views were mind blowing too. After a couple of hours we were finished and so boarded the minibus and went for lunch in the next village. Lunch was almost as good as the canyon; a pork consume with lumps of roast pork, but the bloke selling it charged us double what he charged the locals, leaving a sour taste in the mouth.

Once back in San Cristobal, we packed our bags and left here, to go the short distance to a more upmarket place. A much needed bit of comfort for us. We settled into our new pad and made arrangements to leave Mexico for Guatemala. We decided on Quetzaltenango, or Xela as the locals call it. I was starting to feel cold and could feel some man flu coming on, so we decided to go to the tour operator to book our voyage, grab some food and get back to our new luxury pad and try and get a good nights sleep. The bus we discovered left at 6:30 am. Yikes! Dom said she had read of one leaving at 9:30, slightly more of a reasonable hour and so we set off in search of that. Food first though. We’d walked past a place every day when going to and from our hostel, and as it advertised cheap food, we’d said we’d give it a whirl before we left. It was our last night and so it was now or never.

There was a solo table in the foyer and then a door that led to a family home, into which we could see through the window. The bloke who ran the place came out to greet us and spoke in drunk, enthusiastic Spanish. We agreed to the food he was offering, unsure what it was but he made it sound appealing. After a short while he came back with one plate of seafood salad, complete with ice cubes, and some tacos. He kept going about Tequila, the only word I understood in all of the conversation, and as it was our last night, we thought it would be nice to toast Mexico with her traditional drink, and so we nodded at the guy when he next said ‘Tequila’ and settled down to our food.

Dinner was nice but unsatisfying. A salad between two is never going to do anyone any favours. The Tequila still hadn’t arrived so we put it down to a breakdown in communication and ordered the bill from what I assume was the blokes daughter. She went out the back to find out what our food cost, and the guy returned and started banging on about Tequila again. By now I was feeling pretty ropey, but it was our last night so wanted to go out with a shot of drink at least. The dude, who had probably been on the drink himself, then got on his motorbike and shot off to buy a bottle of Tequila from somewhere.

He returned a short while later, bottle in hand and poured us both a drink. We drank it and requested the bill. We didn’t get a bill as such but were told that the cost was 220 pesos. This seemed extravagant for one plate of salad and two shots, especially as we were in what was supposed to be an economical cafe, but as there was a guy stood by the door with a big plank of wood, and neither of us has enough grasp of Spanish to negotiate we took it on the chin and went in search of the bus that left at 9:30. More bad news. All buses to Guatemala leave at the crack of dawn. The good nights sleep was not looking as likely anymore.

I was freezing by now and so I hit the hay whilst Dom booked our next place to stay.

Hola Guatemala

The alarm went off and we dragged ourselves out of bed. Luckily I felt much better and was back in the game. The shuttle bus picked us up from our hotel at 6:30 on the dot and of course we weren’t ready, so we quickly slung the rest of our stuff in the backpacks and legged it to our lift. After a couple of hours on the road we arrived at the border and got out of the bus to get our passports stamped. The border was a bit like a little corner of Glastonbury. There were loads of people milling around. Travelers, hippies, crusties, free spirits, grown men in purple and yellow trousers, money changers, people selling food, people selling things they’ve made, people selling things kids in China have made, and of course, hundreds of taxi drivers.

image

The border.

The bus from the border to our lodgings took us through amazing landscapes, and after a longer journey than our flight from the UK, we got to the place we’d call home for the next few days. Alas, on arriving the person who we booked the place with, contacted Dom and wanted more money. Fed up of being ripped off, Dom refused, and so after a while on the phone, an agreement was came to. We would stay for one night at no extra cost and hopefully claw some of the money back. So we then spent the next half hour booking a new place before going out for some dinner at last. Dinner ended up being lukewarm and bland but I was so hungry it didn’t matter.

Shattered from the trip it was time to head back home. Whilst walking back we saw two kids playing footy in the street. The ball came to me and so I had a shot, boom, straight over a wall, probably lost for ever. It’s been a while since I’ve kicked a ball so am a little rusty. After apologizing in broken Spanish we made a sharp exit, and stopped for a coffee at the most expensive coffee shop in town.

We’ve only been in the city for a few hours but it’s got a good vibe to it. Looking forward to a proper explore tomorrow. Bring it on Guatemala.

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