Bright lights, big city

Trip Start Jan 16, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Guatemala  ,
Monday, March 7, 2005

It was only a few blocks from the bus station where I was dropped off in Guatemala City to where the buses leave for Antigua, so I decided to take my chances on foot as it was broad daylight and so far my travels in Guatemala had been trouble-free, despite the doom-mongering in the guidebooks.
There's not much to offer the average tourist in the smog-ridden city, which is home to two million Guatemaltecos - one sixth of the total population.
Keeping a tight hold on my bags, and scanning the streets for would-be thieves, I made my way through the busy streets, stopping now and again to ask for directions. Soon I arrived at the bus station without any problems, and watched as my bag was hauled up onto the top of the former US school bus. Crossing my fingers that my bag would still be there when I arrived in Antigua, I boarded the bus, relieved to have made it in one piece and with all my worldly possessions.
But I was not to be deprived of my taste of petty crime in the capital.
As I walked down the aisle to an empty seat two men got up as if they were on the wrong bus and pushed past me to get off, taking rather too long about it, something I attributed to the fact that one of them had obviously had a few too many tacos.
It was only after I sat down that the other passengers pointed out that one of them had opened one pocket of my rucksack to see if there was anything inside worth taking, which there wasn't.
After sitting down and chatting to my neighbour for a while I suddenly thought I'd better check my trouser pocket, and realised my wallet had been pick pocketed too, even though the pocket was closed with velcro, and I hadn't felt a thing.
Luckily there was nothing more than about 20 dollars in there and - more annoyingly - some emails addresses. Everything else was stored away in a secret pocket down my trousers.
As the bus trundled out of the city, up into the hills and down into Antigua without further incident, I wondered whether the thief would be disappointed with his pickings.
I felt quite happy that he'd only got away with the equivalent of about one day's beer budget, and it was an interesting insight into life in the city, where unfortunately petty crime is commonplace.
One thing was sure, the secret pocket inside my trousers had certainly been a shrewd investment. I think I'll notice if a thief tries to put his hands down there. At least I hope so.
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