Um Bongo, Um Bongo!

Trip Start Sep 28, 2011
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21
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Trip End Ongoing


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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Tuesday, October 18, 2011

We rise a little groggy from last night's efforts, but the mood is upbeat, and the breakfast excellent. We don’t have much time to see the town, but we stop for some pictures at a charming square.  My first impressions of Guatemala is a really striking, visual, colourful place.  Structures, shacks and ramshackle dwellings litter the roadsides.  As, unfortunately, does litter.  The people are friendly, wearing bright, hand stitched clothing and traditional dress.  Many of the women carry baskets of wares on their heads, or babies slung over their backs.  Traffic and pollution is pretty bad, with trucks billowing black smoke from exhausts.  Buses are rammed to the brim with people, some of whom hang out the back, apparently with no concern for their lives.  Roads snake into the foggy mountains, with mudslides closing lanes.  The hills are filled with crops, wood carrying locals and jungle foliage.  It feels 3rd world, it’s vibrant and intoxicating, and my eyes drink in the culture shock.

We are disappointed to learn road closures ensure we cannot visit Lake Atitlan, but it proves a blessing as we make good time to push on to Antigua.  It’s a beautiful town with a worldly atmosphere, with many travelers and pale skinned people as much as the locals.  It’s where the tradition of Guatemala meets the creature comforts of a developed city, and it’s wonderful.  Jungle Party is our hostel for the night and it proves to be an inspired choice.  Friendly travelers abound and we hit the town with a vengance, painting it red until the very early hours.  The kilt gets an airing again and is swished around into the night with my attempts at salsa.  I hit the hay a very happy stu.
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