A Travellerspoint blog

Guatemala

2017 APRIL - GUATEMALA

UNFORTUNATELY, A COUNTRY I WILL ALWAYS WANT TO FORGET!

sunny

DAY 80 WEDNESDAY 26TH APRIL

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We broke a new record today as we were out on the street on the way to the bus stop at 7.35am, yes am! We have a long way to travel today so wanted to get an early start. It took just 10 minutes with dragging our luggage to reach the bus that was just about to depart. We had sussed out the streets that were bitumen and not cobblestones to make it a bit easier to wheel our luggage.

First chicken bus Juayua to Sonsonate.

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Great timing and a little help from a local old guy and we were soon on our way on the next chicken bus Sonsonate to the border town of La Hachadura. We had to walk across the border and lucky Dolly had one US$ coin left that needed to be spent so she paid a rickshaw to take her to the El Salvador immigration window and then over the bridge into Guatemala territory. Sadly I could not take a photo as this is not allowed at border crossings.

After crossing the bridge Lyn & I finally caught up to her, but we still had to walk a good 1km or so to the Guatemala immigration window.

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After the Guatemala immigration stamp was given we were soon approached by bus touts to get us on our way. We had no local currency so had to change with the money sharks at the border. I changed just US$20 which the bus tout told us would be enough to get us by bus to Antigua where I had a hotel booked for tonight.

We sat around in the bus waiting for it's departure, it was bloody hot but we were glad there was a bus here waiting and it was an easy transition.
Luckily the bus did not wait to be full before departure and we were soon on our way. Next thing the bus conductor come and asks for 150 quetzals, 3 x 50. Border to Escuintla where we needed to change to another bus. Shit this was different to the price the bus tout had told me and I only had 145 quetzals to give him. He seemed ok with that, but it meant we would have to get some more money at the next bus change.

So we arrive in Escuintla around 2pm, I find an ATM - get mugged by 3 blokes who steal all the money I just withdrew from the ATM, my ATM card, my credit card and worst of all my passport. They gave me a few good kicks to the ribs and a nice bump on my head to go with it. Luckily this was all witnessed by a crowd of about 20 locals who all just stood around, watched and did nothing. Back at the bus stop a little kid told Lyn that he had seen it all and one of the blokes had a gun. I did not see a gun.

We could do nothing here so we boarded the next bus to Antigua. Lucky I had a fist full of money from change I received while purchasing some bottles of water. This was enough for the bus fare.

At the hotel in Antigua the receptionist spoke no English so I google translated to her that I had been robbed and I need someone who speaks English to take me to the police. Jose, a tourist assistant, showed up and was amazing. He let me use his phone to contact the banks to cancel my cards and took us to the police station to file a report. Really this was all we could do. Apparently Escuintla is the most dangerous town in Guatemala, but no one had told us, we did this crossing route on the advice of the guy at the last hostel.

Anyway the crunch came when I was told there was no Australian Embassy in Guatemala for me to get a new passpost, the closest is in Mexico City, Mexico. Which means I have to go to the British Embassy in Guatemala City to get an emergency passport that will let me travel to Mexico City and then go to the Australia Embassy and get a new passport.

I'm feeling sad, sore and stupid.

DAY 81 THURSDAY 27TH APRIL

Slept about 8 minutes in total last night. Great, the British Embassy is closed today, so can do nothing!

Tried to have a normal day in Antigua but it's not happening. Such a shame because I think this is the most beautiful town we have visited in Central America, but I can't get my head around anything. I have a deep hatred for Guatemala, when I shouldn't as the whole country is not responsible for the 3 arseholes that attacked me.

Also this is a pain in the bum for my travel companions Lyn & Dolly. Not sure what we are going to do yet, only thing for certain is I need to get the emergency travel documents from the British Embassy here and get to Mexico City asap. I have spoken to them there and they said a replacement passport will take up to 3 weeks to process as they are only produced in Australia and would need to be sent over. Fuck!

I'm feeling pretty low as you can imagine.

We moved to a cheaper hostel this morning. Were walking around the block from our hotel to take a look at a place we saw online when we were approached by Marco (tout) who took us to Hostel Imperial. Triple room, much bigger than the one we had last night, ensuite and a lot cheaper. Not sure how long we are going to be here.

After we transferred our luggage over to our new digs, we did a little walk around the town and found 'The Londoner' bar. Sign on the wall offering pie and mash and gravy won us over instantly, especially Dolly who had the biggest food smile on her face that I had seen all trip.

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I have arranged, via Marco, to hire a taxi for tomorrow to take us into Guatemala City to the British Embassy and wait around to take us back. Today I had new passport photos taken, and printed out the application form to fill in and take.
Our original itinerary has us flying from Guatemala City to Cuba via Mexico City on May the 6th so I am hoping I can change the date of the first leg of this flight to use to get to Mexico City.

Will see what happens tomorrow.

DAY 82 FRIDAY 28TH APRIL

The British Embassy opens at 7.30am and although the City is less than 30km from Antigua we are advised to leave at 4.30am due to traffic. If we got caught in the morning rush hour traffic that starts at 5am heading into the city it would take us 3-4 hours! So we left at 4.30 and arrived at the Embassy at 5.15, so then we waited. 7.28am we entered the building and rode the elevator up to the 7th floor. Luckily the Australian Embassy in Mexico City had already contacted the British Embassy so they knew my story, also Jose the Tourist Assistant had phoned them to make an appointment for me also.

So forms filled out and flight booked for Monday 1st, 4 hours later I had my emergency passport in hand. Turns out I could not change the flight I already had and needed to have a flight booked before they would issue the emergency passport as it is valid for only one day.

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Next up I had to go to the immigration department as I needed to get another entry stamp so that I would be able to exit Guatemala. So fucking ridiculous. The taxi driver was so good, he had been waiting since 5.15am and it was now after 11. I then told him I needed to go across town to this office for the stamp, he agreed without any hesitation. I said I would pay him more which was only fair.

As expected 45 minutes later at the immigration office it was packed. No idea where to go I stood in a line for only 10 minutes before directed to the correct floor where I stood in line for another 30 minutes before getting to the counter to be advised they only do these stamps before 12 noon, come back on Tuesday 2nd as Monday is a holiday. Long story short, I advised I had to get a stamp today as flight out on Monday, was advised bad luck, just have to buy another flight and another passport valid for another day. After me yelling to her 'this fucking passport just cost me 100 gpb' she then had the gall to tell me that their computer system was down anyway and they could not see the details of my entry into the country so goodbye. I was there almost 3 hours.

In the taxi on the way back to Antigua I phoned Jose again and he said don't worry about it, just go to airport for flight on Monday and fight it out there. I seem to be constantly in tears. So, I am off alone to Mexico City on Monday to try and get new passport and I need to apply for a visa for entry into the USA. I need to do this at the USA Embassy in Mexico City also. This is all going to take time and I will catch up the Lyn and Dolly somewhere in Cuba as they will just fly as scheduled.

Back in Antigua I paid of the taxi driver and thanked him profusely, he had aided above and beyond, acting as translator for me at the immigration office also.

Trying to salvage the day, we headed back to The Londoner pub for the advertised fish and chips, which turned out to be pretty ordinary. Lyn ended up heading home early as she is getting the flu.

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Dolly & I had another stroll around town, this place really is beautiful. The buildings that have been renovated and turned into expensive shops cafes and hotels are just amazing. We walked through several of them with no worries, the managers happy for us to have a wonder around. Even the shops, cafes & restaurants are all lovely. And the town is clean. There are still a lot of street vendors but they seem very mild and not so pushing and in your face. Yes under different circumstances I would say this was one of my favourite places.

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DAY 83 SATURDAY 29TH APRIL

==HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME==

No one feels like celebrating, least of all me.

Dolly & I went out for a walk around town in the morning, had my birthday breakfast on the front steps of someone's house, but my mid morning she needed to stay close to a toilet (if you know what I mean). Lyn is sick with flu and spent the day in bed.

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I went out again for a stroll after dark to take a few photos and to find some food. Ended up with pizza.

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Did get some great pressies, gecko from Lyn and a pinnie from Dolly. Best present of all was that they both said they would fly to Mexico City with me on Monday 1st May!

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DAY 84 SUNDAY 30TH APRIL

Time to pack up bags again ready for this afternoons shuttle to our hostel by the airport. Our flight to Mexico is at 6.45 am tomorrow morning so it makes more sense to stay close to the airport for such an early flight.

Last minute shopping at the market. I needed a new pair of sunglasses as realized I lost mine in the shuffle a few days ago.

Our shuttle collected us as 3pm but did not leave Antigua until 4 after doing laps of the town picking up other passengers. At least we were first on and got good seats.

So there you go, the last 5 days have been pretty shitty for me and co. Hopefully everything will go to plan swiftly in Mexico City without any hassles.

Wish us luck!

Posted by Cindy Bruin 20:44 Archived in Guatemala Comments (7)

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