Panajachel

Trip Start Sep 30, 2013
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17
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Trip End May 31, 2014


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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thursday 28th November

6:30 am - on an early minibus from St Cristobal to Gutamala, BUT WHAT A PALAVER YESTERDAY!!

We took a trip with Chincultik tours on Tuesday - it was excellent, so we booked (and paid) to go with them to Antigua (Guatamala) on Thursday. Wednesday we also chose this outfit to take a tour to the ruins at ToninŠ followed by a visit to some waterfalls with a chance to swim. The brochure said we would have 3 1/2 hours at ToninaŠ followed by a lunch stop (cost not included) and then an hour at the waterfalls, but when we got to ToninŠ the driver said to be back at the minibus in just 2 hours. Then, because it was raining, the group, which contained no other English speakers, decided to skip lunch AND the waterfalls and head straight back to St Cristobal, where we arrived 2 hours ahead of schedule. We were rather disappointed. 

We returned to the tour office where Marian expressed her disappointment in no uncertain terms : NO CONTENTO!....and asked for a partial refund. Now these people (The Mexicans) are are a pretty laid back bunch and are obviously not used to complaints. The guy at the desk, with very little English, tried to ignore us but eventually referred the matter to his manager, a smiley lady, who also tried to ignore us. After a few volleys of QUE PASE and some mobile phone calls to the driver and the threat of a bad review on Tripadvisor she gave us the requested refund but then refused to take us to Antigua! (with full refund). I have to say that I got unusually animated at this point, but there was no arguing with the smiley lady. 'No wajt more trouble' she said. So we took the refund went down the road and booked the trip with someone else.

 

No doubt their are lessons to be learned, somewhere, by someone, but I think it illustrates a cultural difference.
 
My take (Marian!) is that I was grumpy and perhaps should not have complained, that it was our lack of Spanish and the drivers of English that was the main problem and that Mexico has not got our fairly recent culture of encouraging, reflecting and learning from complaints. The boss was offended and wiped his hands of us and I don't blame his view. Sad in a way for our last day in mexico but our change of plan brings us to Panachel which is on a lake and a staging post to Angigua where we begin a relatively luxurious tour. More later of beds that fall apart later, cold showers, toilet rolls running out.......




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Thursday 28th November

Guatamala - I have only just learned how to spell Guatamala, and its currency is the Quetzal, pronounced ke-tsal.

The Mexican road was not unlike many in the USA with dual lane right angled intersections controlled by overhead traffic lights advertising the road names. We disembarked from our comfortable 12 seater Toyota and boarded a much smaller VW van with a bald front offside tyre and the interior floor supported by a bottle jack. The terrain changed from fairly flat to mountainous, the pot holed road following a river valley for a couple of hours before widening to a half decent highway. The advertised 8 hour trip to Panajachel (pronounced Panachel) took 11 hours, but this is quite normal. The journey was cramped and uncomfortable, but was compensated for by several interesting conversations with other passengers - French, Australian, Japanese, Brits and a Swede.



Friday 29th November

Panajacel is a one street tourist trap, but that is due to its position on the banks of the fabulous volcanic lake Atitlan. On Friday morning, before completing out journey to Antigua, we took a ferry across to San Pedro, slightly more relaxed and a haven for homestays, Spanish classes, salsa, yoga and the like. We may return here for a few months in the future to get to grips with the language.




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Comments

Viv Sullivan on

Marian I can so imagine you standing there demanding the refund!! What a horrible experience for you both, not to mention a waste of a day. Good luck with getting to your next destination. x

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