McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Centre

Trip Start Sep 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Saturday, January 12, 2008

Livingston was my first stop in Guatemala. South on the coast. It is the only place in Guatemala where they speak . When people jump off a bus or a boat in a new place they normally bury there noses in a travel book. I suppose they are a good reference but you just limit yourself to what someone else has done. When I got off the boat, a local called Nic, introduced himself to me and offered to show me about. I took him up on the offer. We went for a drink and he told me about his job as a fisherman. Heīs another guy that knocked back work in other countries because he likes the way of life where he lives. He came up trumps for me with a hotel, a room with en suite for 30Q (less than 2 pounds in proper money). I asked about a gym. There isnīt one there but this didnīt strike me as a surprise because there is no McArthur Glen designer outlet centre either. To his credit he came up trumps again and introduced me to GoGo(cool name). GoGo has a gym in his house and invited me round for a session that evening when he finished work. When I say built I mean built, he had constructed benches from wood and his weights were metal poles that had been dipped in concrete at either end! Fred Flintstone style. GoGo is a cool guy and I ended up going out for a few beers with the locals that night - 7Q a beer! (less than 50p).

From Livingston I headed up the Rio Dulce river and stayed at a sort of jungle lodge. I was under the impression that I could take Spanish lessons there but I was informed that these had just stopped.......5 years earlier. Took a canoe out there and just chilled for a few days. From the jungle I headed up north to Flores, near Tikal - more ruins - living the dream. The journey is about 6 hours normally but the driver managed to shave a good hour off that with a serious of death defying overtaking . From Flores I visited the ruins in Tikal, I had to get up at 3am so I could see the day break in the jungle which was quite cool but I just spent the whole day knackered after that.

From Flores 6 of us headed down to Semuc Champey. We stayed at a hotel right next to the river, an ideal location for rope swinging into the river in the middle of the night. This place was cool, the "road" to Semuc Champey is only passable when there hasnīt been rain. From there I went tubing, bridge jumping and for a tour throw a cave which was cool. Every time I took the rope swing into the river I showed great ability in hitting the water in the sorest way possible. The video demonstrates this. When we went through the caves no torches were involved, we had to use candles in the cave, which was meant to be difficult because I was informed that you had to swim in some parts. You only need to swim if your a midget, or Guatemalan I suppose. Me, an American callled Doug and two girls left the hotel the next day for Coban.

A 17 seater bus pulled up in front of the hotel to take us. This was fine apart from the fact that there were already 30 people inside the bus. When the bus hit a hill, me and Doug and a few others had to jump off so the bus could make it up. It was like a tin of sardines (or like the Rangers trophy room this summer) inside with no space to move. Me and Doug decided to jump on the roof for a bit more space. The driver was still letting passengers on at this point but eventually stopped when the bus was "full". If anyone is wondering when a 17 seater bus in Guatemala is full, its when there is 35 people and 1 chicken inside, 6 people on the roof and 3 hanging off the back. It was kind of surreal riding on the top of the bus, this Guatemalan man was making conversation with us, it was just a normal occurence for him on his daily commute to work. Overhanging trees were a bit of a nuisance and Doug lost his sunglasses when we got hit by a branch. I didnīt take any photos sorry. Doug did, but I was just content to hang on for dear life. There is a lack of seatbelts allocated on bus roofs in Guatemala and I think that this problem needs to be addressed.

We got the bus to Coban, its a big town but there is not to do there. The others left for Antigua the same day but Scotland were playing Italy so I decided to stay put. I paid 3.50 pounds to watch the game online but I started to realise that it was a waste of money after 5 minutes watching a blank computer screen. It was morning in you see and for some strange reason the whole town wasn't engrossed in the game. Pissed off I was walking through the streets of the town but I only had the Scotland game on my mind. I stumbled across a small shop with a TV on the ESPN deportes channel, but crucially, showing the game. I managed to tell the man I was Scottish and asked if I could I watch the game in the shop. I ended up standing in the middle of this shop watching the game, I had 4 cans of beer in the process. Its the first time I've stood and had a carry out in a shop whilst its open. The shop keeper was cheering on for Scotland too but it was all in vain in the end. I was heart broken when England didnīt make it either obviously. What I found most suprising was that the shop keeper was not acquainted with any terrorists - strange!

From Coban I wanted to head to Xeli, but through a chronic lack of English I ended up going to Antigua. On the bus to Antigua I got talking to four language student girls, they said I could stay with them. After mulling it over for at least a second I said aye but this backfired because girls don't like football and beer. I met a couple from the UK in Antigua, Ian and Erica. Ian is half Scottish and half Kenyan, a bit strange but I suppose it means he is not 100% from Fife which would be so much worst. We went out to the bars and clubs and ended up in some strange places, like the house of a club owners. The house was massive but itīs strange because in a way because most people don't have money. The rest seem to be super rich with not much in the middle. I think there is alot of drug money behind some of these wealthy people. We hiked up an active volcano,
a guide is advised because there has been alot of armed robberies! I didnīt
get robbed though, which is always nice.

To be honest alot of scaremongering goes on, I donī think these countries are dangerous and when someone gets robbed its more newsworthy than when someone doesnīt get robbed. Antigua was a nice town but it seems to be like London in that all the prices are jacked up, but I suppose it is because of us tourists. There was a few festivals happening in Antigua when I was there. My favourite was when men strapped fireworks onto their backs and danced around! I made another enquiry about an old banger in Antigua but was getting quoted stupid prices again, I think iīve given up on that notion and iīm just going to stick with bus roofs.

Next stop San Pedro!
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