We made it across the border! And it was frantic and crazy and really good fun to look back on but at the time it was so confusing.
We left the jungle place and hopped on a bus back to San Cristobal, got there around 7pm and set off looking for the death metal venue. We finally found it in a real quiet part of town, full of young Mexican guys all wearing lots of black. The beers were more expensive than we've seen on our whole trip and the night had the feel of a Groby Community College rock night, but I always did love them. About three bands played while we were there, gravelly death metal screaming and all. We left there in search of some snacks late in the night then caught a bus to the border at midnight. That bus took 8 hours and we tried to catch some sleep on it over the night. From the bus we took another little minivan with a bunch of locals then got left off in a really small town. Now, we're still in Mexico at this point, and we're pretty sure we're close to the border but couldn't see any signs. So there we are, asking the shoe shining old guy in the square 'donde esta Guatemala?'. Turns out it's just round the corner, so we walked over the border.
Instantly you can see such a big difference, I was really suprised. The roads are a little sketchier, the buses are banged up old american school buses (no deluxe service playing movies anymore - no!). A million people at once are instantly trying to help you which makes you think they have some scam or motive. Turns out it was fifty fifty and half the people are just trying to help you along. We paid the official in the Guatemala office that stamped our passport a tiny amount for an entry, which I later read is illegal. So we are going along all sceptical about the people on the street trying to help, when it's the official guy in a uniform and office that scams us. That's pretty funny.
So by this time we are knackered. It's half nine in the morning, we're still recovering from the rock night bizarre-ness, a over night bus journey, a van ride and walk in the scorching heat and we've only just set foot in Guatemala. Oh yeah, and at this point we don't have any Guatemalan money either. We were hoping to find a money changing place, but all there is are randoms on the side of the road with the fattest wads of Quetzal notes, waving at you. Crazy shit. We got to the bus station and were being ushered on one of the old chicken buses by about five screaming people all flapping around us, we're trying to shout back that we've got no money, so then they introduce us to their friend - mr random and his wads of cash. We get a terrible deal on the leftover pesos from Mexico but it's enough to get us to the town we want to go to - so at this point we are winning!
The guide book says it's 2 1/2 hours to Quetzaltenango, it's still early in the morning and we're all proud of ourselves for making such good time. The guy on the bus reckons it'll be about 3 hours. Within half an hour of setting off we've stopped twenty times, mostly to let more and more people on, and once to open the bonnet and pour water in the radiator, we're not sure if the bus is going to make it. After two or so hours and the bus has filled up so there's three to a seat and fifty people in the gangway. We make it to another big bus station and loads of people get off, the guy that was shouting at us to get on the bus at the border town is now shouting for us to get off and flayling his arms around frantically. So we grab our stuff and run off the bus, get pointed onto another one and have all our stuff put on the top of it. Then after all that excitement we sit on the bus for 30 minutes waiting for it to get as packed out as possible, while trying to see in the reflection of other buses if our bags are still on the top of the bus. The bus gets going and we go through some amazing scenary, people get on and off all the time, lots of people selling stuff. We bought some super tasty watermelon slices for 15p. Two more hours pass and there's volcanoes and valleys and we're crammed in and I've lost all feeling in my buttocks. After another hour we made it. Well, to a really far away bus terminal so we bailed on our 'keeping it real' travel and got a taxi to the centre. We got a hotel room and dropped all our bags of us, the time was 5pm! We made it! Guatemala!
Posted by Siobhan
on January 21, 2005 06:33 PM