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Guatemala, Day 0: A whole lot of waiting around - JonM

Nov. 30th, 2008

09:15 pm - Guatemala, Day 0: A whole lot of waiting around

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My flight from Seattle departed at 8:20 am; early, but not butt-crack-of-dawn early. Despite being just after Thanksgiving, the airport was relatively uncrowded and easy going. I ran into Matt and Sari checking in, but they were on the earlier flight to Houston, so we parted ways to reconvene in Houston for the leg to Guatemala.

The flight itself was uneventful, and an early arrival only meant that I would wait in Houston for five hours instead of four. I wandered around, ate some crappy pizza, perused the "Religion" section of the local paper, and wandered around some more.

About an hour before the flight left, I ran into Matt and Sari, who had apparently been rather busy; Sari had forgotten her passport on the plane, and had been rescheduled for a morning flight while her passport took a round trip to Las Vegas. Matt wasn't feeling very well, so he decided to spend the night in Houston with Sari.
I sent an email to Camino Seguro letting them know of the change, and boarded the plane.

The flight to Guatemala was quite turbulent, with dinner served in a rush during a smooth lull. Lightning storms look very cool from above. We landed just as I finished reading Shackleton's account of his failed expedition to cross Antarctica by land. I was surprised when the airplane made a U-turn on the runway immediately after coming to a stop. Immigrations and customs were non-events, although a guard did demand to see my baggage claim ticket.

I was greeted by an older man holding a sign stating "Circus Group", who went and fetched a rickety microbus. We barrelled through Guatemala City at the blistering pace of 60 km/h (~35 mph), and proceeded up into the hills on a series of well engineered but twisty highways. Well after 10pm, the cities were mostly shut down, with small pockets of activity here and there.

As we pulled into Antigua, I learned why the microbus was so rickety; the rough cobblestone ways slowed us to a crawl, through several blocks to the Hotel Uxlahil, our temporary lodgings for the extra days we had arrived early. As we pulled up, an inebriated couple were in the midst of a drunken spat, so the driver got out and made sure that someone from the hotel would come out and let me in.

The man led me to a room with few words, handed me a key, and bid me adios. The room was sparse, but nice, clean with a TV and a small bathroom.

You know you're in Latin America when there are four channels of futbol on the TV, and they don't censor the breasts out of the TV movies.

As an extra bonus, as I was lying in bed, I reached over and grabbed my phone off the nightstand to set the alarm clock. In the process, I noticed that there was a silver dollar sized spider crawling up my arm. I quickly brushed him off, scanned for compatriots, and tried to go to sleep.

I'm not sure what the plan is for tomorrow, but it'll be nice to finally meet the folks from SF and Denver...