Thursday, February 26, 2009

Guatemala: A nation easy to get around and with an easygoing people

A travel article in the American Statesman

AMERICAN-STATESMAN STAFF

In a cool mist one early afternoon last summer, I made my way, along with my friend Nathaniel Mendelsohn, a guide and a dozen other hikers, up a lush mountain trail, scrambled across a saddleback and set out, gingerly, across the forbidding, utterly black volcano known as Picaya. It was like making your way from the land of Man into the land of Mordor.

Guatemala is like a poor man's Costa Rica. There are fewer resorts and fewer tourists. But organizing day trips like the Picaya hike, or bargaining for huipils, the embroidered, attractive ponchos sported by indigenous people, was no problem. To get from town to town, we popped into one of the many little tourist agencies to schedule transportation or we hopped on one of the many punctual little vans, Greyhound-like buses, or colorful, converted school buses known as chicken buses, for a ride along vertigo-inducing roads cut into mountainsides. (Unfortunately, with only six days, we didn't have time to reach the supposedly magnificent Mayan ruins of Tikal, in the north of Guatemala.) Lodging in a clean room with cable television and hot water cost only about $25 a night.

Read the whole article here

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