I cross the border from Honduras to Guatemala yesterday. The tourist shuttle from Copan to Antigua was the way I rolled. It was nearly as cheap as the local buses and far more direct. Smarts takes precedence over pride in travel, and I have no qualms about going somewhere the best way possible. So I packed into a van with a couple other tourists and rode out a comfortable ride to Antigua.
I have a habit of falling directly to sleep as soon as I begin riding on a bus – or a plane, train, or car for that matter – so I cannot really write much about what the Guatemalan countryside looked like. But from what I managed to take in from brief breaks in my dreams, I must conclude, without a doubt, that Guatemala is a beautiful country.
Wondrous volcanos, rolling hills, farms, rivers, and lakes stretched out before me unimpeded for as far as I could see . . . and then I feel back to sleep. I do not know how I do it. I don’t know how I am able to fall asleep amid such awe-striking beauty. But I do. I think it has something to do with the gentle vibrations of the engines luring me into a dreamy state of subconsciousness. I can not even fight it. Vehicles are like time chambers to me. I step in, sit down, then hours later I wake up in a new country without any idea how I got there.
These Central American shuttles are a decent service. I have to say it, I am unduly impressed. They directly link tourist town to tourist town all through Guatemala, competition keeps the prices somewhat low and they are comfortable. I had a Guatemalan friend in Copan tell me that he has to take around eight different local buses to get back to his home in Peten (near Tikal). I would guess that he could take a direct tourist shuttle for nearly the same price. The tourist shuttles are far better priced than what I thought they would be, but I do not have the impression that these shuttles go anywhere but along the well-trod routes. If I want to go to Guatemala, I know that I will have to travel the way of the Guatemalans.
I am amused with the tourist infrastructure here. It seems as if you could essentially travel Guatemala from stem to stern and not once step foot on un-tourist oriented soil. There are buses for tourists, hotels for tourists, restaurants for tourists, and everything that a tourist could need is offered right up for tourist prices.
A tourist could really live in a bubble here . .. for a bubble is exactly what it is. Someone could just float around in bubble across all of Guatemala, looking out at the country through refracted and opaqued walls, and see exactly what they came here to see. Then they could go home, crop the white people out of the photos and talk about “cultural experiences.” Don’t know if I am feeling all of this.
Antigua looks neat. I am glad that I came here. Tourist towns are good, comfortable stops once in a while, but after an entire month in touristy Copan, I am ready to get on to other horizons. A few brisk walks around Antigua is all I needed to satiate my curiosity right now. I am ready to get going, but Mira has work to do which requires a good internet connection. So I sit here, comfortable, with a smile. My friend Andy is staying next door, and drops some good cheer on me throughout the day. I am content. But I must concluded, that after one day and three walks around this town, Antigua is a re-colonized colonial city.
I am a neo-conquistador. Spending money and taking in the splendors of the tourist empire. . . one photograph at a time.
But I am having fun, talking to good friends, I have internet and free breakfast in my hotel. I have no worries about seeing something out there in the streets that will shock me or make me think about anything. I am in the bubble.
But like all bubbles, it will soon burst.
Wade from Vagabond Journey.com
April 1, 2008