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Published: July 23rd 2009
It was a few hour bus ride from San Salvador to Guata (as the locals call it). Toby had recommended we take one of the express buses, and we went with a company that had departures every hour and a half. He had mentioned that the other buses 'Take forever'. For Toby to take the more expensive option, the cheaper one must be really bad. I had heard that Guata was not he safest city in the region, so I booked us into a more expensive lodging option, $18 for the room @ the Hotel Colonial
. It had nice ambiance, with nice hard wood floors in our room, and the room had decent amount of square footage as well. With free WIFI and free water, coffee and cookies, I thought it was a good deal. Then I slept on the bed. I realized they can only offer so much for $9 a person. Since it was low season, the hotel was almost empty.
If there are many options for eating out around the hotel during peak season, they close down for the summer rain. We had to walk a good few blocks to grab dinner. The first 3 places that were
mentioned in the guidebook were closed, as in out of business. Must be a tough city to survive in. We settled for mediocre chinese. Our hotel receptionist had suggested we take a taxi back if it got too late. I didn't see the need. The next day, Justin and I walked around some of the touristy sights around the central park. Situated around it are the National Palace, cathedral and other colonial buildings. We were planning on checking out the national palace, but realized that foreigners had to pay $6.25 to get in, while nationals got in for free. Yet another country that thanks travelers for visiting by slapping them in the face. We decided to skip the rip off. After walking around and seeing the sights (there are not that many of them) I went back to the hotel to read while Justin headed over to the Expeditor's office to meet the locals that we would be hanging out with in the city as well as Antigua.
As soon as Justin returned, we started packing. We had already paid to stay a second night, but...
While Justin was visiting the office, he had mentioned to the big
Very classy room with nice hard wood floors. Too bad the beds were mushy.
boss that we got a great little hotel for $9 a night each. The district manager could not believe that such a value could be found, and asked him where it was. "Zone 1".... Manager freaks out. "All murders, muggings, prostitution and low life activity in the country occurs there." Once she was able to calm down a bit, she had her admin assistant and the receptionist drop what they were doing and hit the phones and find us a room somewhere else. Seriously, per Justin, she "freaked". In the end, she realized that there was nothing out there in our budget. I am not sure what kind of comments were made or conversations that transpired, but in the end, Justin's acquaintance at the office who works in customs invited us to stay with her family that night. "Best to clear out of zone 1 early in the evening, before it gets too dark." So, we packed up and headed out.
That would have been the end of our wondering in Guata, had the quick escape not resulted in Justin's glasses getting left behind. The next day, we headed back to get them (our hosts were nice enough to
drive us back). While we were there, we went to the nicer part of town (I think they wanted us to know that not all areas of the city had to be avoided like the plague) and stopped in at Cafe Saul for some gourmet ice cream. On the way back, we hit a traffic jam. A semi was having trouble backing into a warehouse, which was located right off the highway. The police shut down both directions of the highway to Antigua while the company sorted out the backing in.
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