Monday, March 26, 2018

The Drive...

"Late in the afternoon we came to the market-town where we were to alight from the coach - a dull little town, with a church-spire, and a market-place, and a market-cross, and one intensely sunny street, and a pond with an old horse cooling his legs in it, and a very few men sleepily lying and standing about in narrow little bits of shade." 
from Bleak House by Charles Dickens

I read this excerpt from Bleak House on the same day I uploaded these photos to my blog. I felt compelled to include it. It was so fortuitous! This post doesn't have the razzle dazzle of beautiful photos, it's all about the journey. Guatemala marked our 11th trip to Central America and we've always driven our own vehicle. It's been an adventure since the very beginning - driving. But I've never taken photos out the window before. Well, I didn't always have an i-phone handy. 

When we left beautiful Lake Atitlan, and began our mountain adventure, it was a Sunday. Market day! So, every time we hit a town, it was clogged with locals. I loved it! But my husband - who was driving- didn't. It was stressful driving through a mob of people, fruit and vegetables, dogs and livestock and other vehicles. At times, I could have reached out the window and grabbed a tomato. And boy, the tomatoes I ate in Guatemala were delicious. 

Do you see the guy hanging on the back of the bus? He climbed all the way from the front door, over the top and down the back. At highway speeds. 

I don't think I captured the complete chaos of market day. But look at how narrow the space is for our car. 

Yes, this is a road. 

Obviously, I got out of the car for this one. This is coffee country. But later, we drove through a landscape that reminded me of the floating mountains in the movie Avatar. And of course, I didn't take any photos out the window. Dumb.

Here, we're waiting in line for a ferry to cart us across the river. 

Now, we're behind a truck full of cows. 

Look at us! It took us two days of mountain driving to get to our goal - the lowlands of the Peten region. (We stayed in Coban overnight, at a cute, but cold little place run by the nicest local family. They hugged us when we left) The Peten region is where the glorious Tikal and Yaxha ruins are found. Plus, a beautiful lake that stretches for around 30 miles. We stayed there for 9 days. Then, we took to the skies. We flew back to Guatemala City and took a van to Antigua for our last 3 days. 

On the return trip from Peten, after we dropped our car off in Santa Elena and arrived at the airport, we found it closed. Can you imagine?  But, in a matter of minutes, the airport was buzzing with activity. 

The reason we drove to Peten and our hotel in El Remate, was to keep our vehicle. We wanted to have a car to drive to Mayan ruins, the island of Flores and well, where ever else we wanted to go. Plus, sometimes, it's all about the journey.

Guatemala City and a few Volcanoes. (Guatemala has 37!)

In Antigua, we walked. But, there were a few tired and lazy times when we took these little open cabs. Did I mention that Antigua has cobble stone streets? It was bumpy. 

Driving and touring the little towns of Guatemala was quite the experience. I can't wait to break into my file of over 800 photos and finally start sharing our trip. (other than the photos I just happened to have on my phone!) 

The Awesome Links:


Kay L. Davies said...

So much about which to comment, and I find myself thinking about the man climbing over the bus. I guess we'll never know why.
You had me hooked at the mention of Lake Atitlan, which I've long wanted to visit. I must talk to my husband about Guatemala. I must admit we've been somewhat reluctant to travel out of Canada, mostly because of the uncertain situation in the US, as it's almost always necessary to change planes there.
But now I have your photos to admire. Thanks!
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

DUTA said...

Markets are an integral part of any tour everywhere in the world. It's where one sees daily local life and human dynamics at its best. Driving a car in a market's usually narrow, crowded spaces - not recommended. I love to view pictures taken at markets.

Jackie and Joel Smith said...

Oh my goodness, so glad you linked up and that I found your blog. Love your lack of razzle-dazzle - it is our favorite kind of travel as you'll find if you read our blog as well!! I'll be back!

NC Sue said...

Great series. Clearly the guy hanging on the back of the bus was either brave or demented. I think I'll cast my vote for demented!
Thanks for sharing at

DJan said...

Loved this look at the market day in Guatemala. My friend is from there and just returned from a month's visit to her family. She has long shown me pictures of the beauty there, and I also know it well from all your travels. I look forward to being inundated with lots of your incredible photography! :-)

Cathy Keller said...

This was quite a trek! It was quite an adventure! Thank you!

Su-sieee! Mac said...

I felt like I was sitting in your back seat. :-) The marketplace looked quite busy and full to me. My favorite is the close-up of the sheep. I take photos often when the Husband drives. I make sure I've locked the car before I hang out the window.

Pea bea said...

In the one photo, can totally understand your comment on hubby not liking to drive. Such close quarters. Some beautiful scenery out and away from the market area. Enjoyed your sharings.

Peabea from Peabea Scribbles

Photo Cache said...

What an adventure this was!

Worth a Thousand Words

Jim said...

Beautiful shots.

Ruth Rieckehoff said...

Yes, driving in Central America (or any Latin Country) is an adventure. I am from Puerto Rico and the driving is crazy there. However, I have gotten used to the United States and my heart jumps a million times when we are in Central America. We have almost hit dogs, ducks, hens and sheep on the road.

Angie said...

I can understand your husband's feelings on the driving ... for years, my husband was always the driver on our vacations. Then one year, he was not able to join us for a trip to Ireland. I drove a small passenger van with my in-laws and our two kids, from the UK to Ireland, around Ireland during our week there, and then back again. I was exhausted and needed another vacation when we returned!

Beautiful shots that captured to local character!

Spare Parts and Pics said...

Wow, kudos to your husband! I don't think I could drive in such stressful situations in a foreign country. Great photos, and thanks for taking us along with you!!

Lady Fi said...

I just love joining you on your adventures.

Jill said...

Sometimes it is all about the journey! I'm sure I would've been stressed driving in those conditions but wow - so much to see. Including the man climbing over the bus. So unique.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

Wonderful tour Sharon! I never thought about you two having a car when you visited Central America, but as I think back to some of your older posts I realize you must have had. Its wonderful that you can do that. Though I'm guessing your husband may have needed a relaxing cocktail when you arrived at your home away from home after negotiating those narrow streets on Market Day.

Too many years ago we spent a little time in Jamaica and I remember the busses like that-- and private cars too -- with people hanging on on top and at the back and on the sides and out the windows.

Pat Tillett said...

Very interesting info, and great photos Sharon! It's all so colorful.

Linda Hensley said...

I'm enjoying the trip through pictures instead of having to actually go down cobblestone streets behind farm animals. Thanks for doing the actual journey for me!

Nancie McKinnon said...

I had no idea Guatemala has 37 volcanoes. Your photos of the market are great, and I can understand why your husband was stressed :) When I'm the passenger I love taking photos out the window with my iphone. Most of them don't amount to much, but there's usually 1 or 2 that are good. #TPThursday