"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!)
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