Guatemala, the land of disappointment

Looking back on our two weeks in Guatemala reminds me of the history of the St Kilda football club, one disappointment after another. We arrived in Guatemala City from the Mexican border – 6 hrs, 150km, everybody from infants to the elderly trying to sell you something, rubbish dumps in the middle of towns and suicidal bus drivers – the usual.

Guatemala City made downtown LA look like the MCG on grand final day (ok it wasn’t that bad but it was a bit of a rat-hole). We had a bit of a poke around then headed for Antigua, beautiful colonial architecture and home to countless language schools. Things were looking up… or so I thought. Joel and I had enrolled in for a week of Spanish School. After 25 hours of intensive study, I was positive at the very least I would be able to conduct international business in Spanish and woo the ladies like Liberace.

Oh, how I was mistaken, as far as I can tell there is no international business in Central America, Liberace was gay and I still struggle saying ‘gracis’ and ‘por favor’. During my first day of schooling, I developed a fever leaving me quite sick. I don’t know what was more disappointing, being bed-ridden for more than a week or the fact that I had pneumonia. I was in Central America for Christ’s sake, if I was going to be sick I wanted it to be with something cool like Malaria or Typhoid. Not pneumonia, only pensioners get pneumonia.

I was getting better and the weekend beckoned. We decided to do a half-day trip to Volcan Pacaya, an active volcano near Antigua. Now I don’t know about you guys but when I hear active volcano, I think “Liquid hot magma”.  Not quite while we were there, we got a long walk, some sulphur smelling smoke and some lukewarm pebbles.

The next day was National Independence Day. All of the locals had been talking it up, we had heard rumours that the drunkest person at the festivities got to chase people in the crowd wearing nothing but a paper-mashie bulls head with lit fireworks strapped to it. Joz and I agreed our attire was inappropriate for such a momentous occasion so we headed for the local op-shop. We picked up suits for Q$20 (about A$5). Mine, a three-piece pin-striped ripper. We were pumped and ready to go but all we found was a couple of families enjoying “quite time” with some crappy plastic flags, not a drunken bull-man in sight.  We ended up at some trivia night in one of the local pubs (Team Dick Toggs came a disappointing second). All the bars closed at 8pm and we walked home, disappointed once again.

Like the Australian Cricket Board’s stance with Mark Waugh, we thought that we would give Guatemala one more shot to prove itself at the highest level, so we headed to Panajachel on Lago de Atilian. It is a massive mountain lake surrounded my volcanos. It was very beautiful, but once again I couldn’t help but feeling a little let down. You would think that a 126 sq km lake would have some kind of man-eating mythical creature that had been sighted in it but never caught.

We left the lake yesterday and we are now in Honduras. Forgive the whiny, cynical tone of this post, I was sick. Guatemala was great and I would definitely recommend a visit. That said, I think I will have a more enjoyable time in Honduras, beer is half the price and we have already seen a cross-eyed cat.