I decided to write this blog post about Guatemala using a headline that would perhaps draw a great deal of attention or interest. Guatemala seldom is gifted with the Good and mostly the Very Very Bad.
Guatemala The Very Bad is in most cases information which comes from sources like the US State Department that has some form of criteria to inform potential travelers of the dangers of Guatemala. I wonder if the authors of these reports have ever been to Guatemala, or these formed opinions are from an informed collection of Data from the NSA.
Then again Guatemala has never had shootings of their children in schools. Perhaps a Guatemala State Department Report on the dangers of travel to the US might read like this. Do not go to Movie theaters, attend School events, large gathers of Politicians and use any form of mass transit, in general stay in your over prices hotel room. You will be safe.
Guatemala The Very Bad also comes in the form of Travel review on web sites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet, Please note Lonely Planet is about 2 years behind the times in current or miss-accurate information about Guatemala. Guatemala is not a country for everyone. In particular travelers that think when they arrive all Guatemalan’s need to convert to their life style, needs, thinking and wants. The results are plastered on the pages of Travel Review sites of the miss adventures of Travelers that find themselves in positions they find un comfortable or unaccustomed with which turns into a negative review. Rather to enjoying the culture of Guatemala.
Guatemala The Good and The Very Very Bad
Like any country Guatemala has some bad to talk about, however overall the true bad it limited to specific areas of the country, driven by drugs and poverty. Look at Detroit if you see my comparison or 53 other US cities that have a higher per capita crime rate then Guatemala. No one ever seems to get that comparison.
Guatemala The Good having lived and traveled throughout Guatemala and traveled on all forms of Transportation Guatemala offers I thought perhaps being from outside Guatemala I could share what I see of this country through my real life experiences of every day life in Guatemala. Not just a 4 day junket through the country.
Panajachel on Lake Atitlan.
My day includes each and every day a long walk along a road outside of the city I live in Guatemala which at this time is Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. The walk is always different and without any fear for my life. As I pass locals we say hello in spanish and always with a smile the gesture is returned. Kind of thing about Guatemalan’s a little respect and you will find enormous kindness.
I reach Pana as it is called and I have a number of business to visit each day, mostly shopping for Fresh Fruit Produce and other needs for meals. The Market in Pana is a bustling enterprise of vendors with stalls, booths and some just sitting on the ground offering an array of fresh produce. I have my special places I stop each day.
My avocado lady a large woman always with a smile and I ask for Avocados for today. She always tells me no and then for some reason reaches under her table and finds the perfectly ripe Avocados for today meal. I give her 50 cents US.
Off to my Butcher, I must mention for those that have never Traveling to Guatemala, meat is on a hook, eggs are not refrigerated, and chicken often sits split open on the tables of the sellers. Upon my arrival at my Butcher I am always greeted with a huge smile and I converse each visit to buy my Hamburger, always fresh ground from a chunk of meat cut off those hanging before me. His son is learning English from me while I continue my attempts at Spanish.
Move on to find fresh vegetables. Again I have one lady I fancy to buy my produce, she is cute and is kind of chancy with me a term for flirting here. Mounds of fresh produce are before me which is always a hard choice. We have a few teasing smiles back and forth and I am on m way.
A true story about this lady be told is. A friend who visits left his wallet in the piles of produce at this ladies stand. He was in his truck before he new he left it. Anxious he returned to her vegetable stand. With a smile she handed him over his wallet with all the cash and refused a payment for her consideration. Wish that could be on TripAdvisor.
With my backpack full I head to one of 2 small Super Markets in Pana a chain Super Market exists owned by Walmart. I prefer the local places to be honest. Sandra’s is a small extremely well stocked market. I have yet to stump them on something I wanted. Over time I have become accepted as this is a place most of the Tourists shop and local gringos. Being a Gringo often takes time to be accepted I am now part of the family. Always with again a smile I am greeted. Again time for conversation, the weather something I have ordered is in. It is all about time to talk and laugh.
As mid day arrives I want to get out of Pana, Tourists are waking, Tour Groups are stumbling the streets, Lost Travellers are trying to find there way. I grab a tuk tuk and head for my little piece of heaven and head for home for a time to reflect and laugh at the joys of my day and the lovely people of Guatemala.