Saturday, March 10, 2012

Como se dice ‘sardines’

Three planes, one five-hour bus ride, and 26-sleepless and showerless hours later, our group finally arrived in Zacapa.

The entire time traveling yesterday I was so ants-in-my-pants excited that I couldn't sleep. After all the traveling was done, I had been awake for 26-straight hours -- a personal best.

Everyone who traveled in our group was exhausted, but by the time we got off the plane, got through what I think was customs (holy luggage) and loaded onto the minibus, everyone was ridiculously energetic.

Guatemala City was hot, humid and smelled like diesel. Mixed in with 20 college students who smelled like the inside of an airplane --it was not a good time.

The minibus, which in U.S. would have met maximum capacity at maybe 12 people, instead had about 20 college students who all needed deodorant.

When we loaded onto the bus someone said, “Como se dice ‘sardines’?”

Then some else pointed out we actually had more space on the bus than we did on any of the planes, which was true.

At first, everyone was shrieky with excitement of being in Guatemala, so for about 20 minute everyone was shouting out Spanish words they read on signs:




And they also shouted out some not-so-Spanish words they read on signs:

“Pizza hut!”



The roads – like in most Latin American countries – are just short of what I would describe as complete anarchy, and within 20 minutes of driving through Guatemala City, there was a car accident right in front of our bus.

A red pickup truck filled with giant bags of trash piled higher than the top of the car, had pulled out in front of a father driving his daughter to school. There was also a man sitting in the back of the red pickup on top of the bags of trash who seemed rather unphased by the whole accident. He shrugged, then leapt down from the trash bags and walked to the sidewalk. The father, on the other hand, was not so pleased.

After that incident, everyone would peer anxiously out the window at the oncoming traffic every time our driver would change lanes.

About an hour into our drive, we stopped at a gas station/7-11 type store for a pee break and to get food. I bought potato chips and seltzer water then realized it was breakfast time, however, my delirium from lack of sleep prevented me from caring much.

This Guatemalan 7-11 had a security guard at it. He was wearing a bullet-proof vest and was holding a double barrel shotgun. I made a mental note not to steal anything.

A few very sweaty and cramped hours later, we (finally) arrived at the hotel. Our bags, however, did not. They were in the other truck that was waiting to pick up a second group arriving in Guatemala a few hours later. Also, our rooms also weren’t ready.

So we spent the next few hours a bit miserable, hot and rather smelly.


  1. I'm so out of the loop. This sounds like an awesome adventure, but what brings you to Guatemala?


  2. Never mind. I just read your bio on the right side of the page. Question retracted.