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Published: March 2nd 2012
Since it's always a guess when I'll have a good internet connection down here and whether I'll actually be able to get a blog entry up, I've maintained a journal in which I've kept track of the trip and from that I plan to continue this blog online. That being said, the first line I wrote in my journal after arriving at our hostel in Lanquin may have been a little exaggerated, but was, “I'm pretty happy right now that I'm not dead, have not been robbed, nor assaulted in the last 24 hours.”
The trip was my first experience of how variable Central American travel can be, and I have no doubt that there will be more like it and worse.
Leaving San Pedro, we took an 8 am shuttle to Lanquin. In reality, our shuttle went to Antigua where we had to connect to another shuttle at 2pm that went to Lanquin. As you recall from earlier, the trip from Antigua to San Pedro took about 3 hours – so we were expecting to reach Antigua about 11 am, grab some lunch, pull some money out of the ATM as Lanquin doesn't have a bank, and generally
break the trip up a bit. This was only an expectation.
Our bus that was supposed to go straight to Antigua stopped in the nearby town of San Marcos to pick up some passengers. That alone upset one girl on the bus as she chartered a boat from that same town into San Pedro that very morning to catch the bus. In the town of our first stop, a bus going to another location had over booked by two people. So our driver thought this was somehow part of his responsibility and after an hour and a half of talking, the two that didn't have seats on the other bus climbed into ours. Expected arrival time now 12:30pm. We then stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere as a bus had let off some people heading to Antigua from Xela (sounds like “shey-la”). They didn't have enough rope to properly secure all the bags, or enough seats on the bus for the passengers. So another 40 minutes later we were back on the road with some boxes rattling around overhead and two girls sitting on some foot stools. We briefly stopped to let out the passengers from San Marcos and everybody then had a seat.
We finally arrived in Antigua at about 1pm, but one girl on our bus was promised a direct shuttle to Guatemala City Airport (never trust a promise for a direct shuttle). They had planned to connect her to a 12:30 pm shuttle from Antigua to the airport, but there was a big problem, we were well too late. That didn't matter to our driver though as he drove four laps around the city, past everyone's hostel refusing to let them out and thoroughly pissing off even the most patient people. He finally stopped at 1:30 pm in front of the booking agency stating that we had reached our final stop as everyone had to find their way to their hostels. So much for relaxing between shuttles, though we were all just happy to be off the bus.
My buddy Jose and I quickly ran through the streets to find Dramamine, lunch, and an ATM before hopping onto our next shuttle at 2 pm which thankfully had only one other person. Each of us had a bench consisting of three seats to ourselves for our next few hours of traveling in 'luxury'. The second shuttle made good time from Antigua and we actually arrived in Lanquin at the posted time of 9 pm. The town was dead with the streets nearly vacant as some people pulled up in a truck saying that they were transportation for us to our hostel. Our bus driver said that this was correct, so we climbed into the bed of the truck with our bags and took off – in the wrong way. The driver had to stop and fill up for gas from a guy with a shot gun slung over his shoulder. I thought, “please don't try to ditch on paying for gas from this guy.” It also made me wonder how far this trip would be as the travel agency we booked with said that our hostel could be walked in 15-20 minutes from where we were let out.
As we kept driving on some of the most awful roads I could think of (we actually had to stand up in the truck bed because the huge bumps would send us flying from a seated position), we started getting a bit nervous. I mean, 25 minutes in a truck means we've moved significantly further than a 20 minute walk. Along with that, the driver started blasting 50 Cent as we drove along the in the pitch black night without a street light making me start to wonder whether this could be the signal for some bandits to emerge and rob us of everything.
After what was much more time than we were told by our directions, we arrived at our hostel breathing a sigh of relief. We also were promised a free night stay in the dorm, but we were more than happy to pay for a bed had this turned out the be another false promise. My view of the dorm might have been partially colored by our truck ride, but it seemed like the scene from a horror film. We were the only occupants in the dorm room making me wonder whether the previous tenants had left, or were murdered.
Anyhow, we had a place to sleep and didn't get murdered, so I guess this was a pretty decent day.
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