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Guatemala Observations

Flores, GuatemalaAfter 56 days today marks my last full day in Guatemala. After almost to two months here I’m ready for a new country but in this time I’ve noticed some things that I think are worth sharing. Some of these may have been true in Mexico and will probably be true in other countries [...]

Flores, Guatemala

After 56 days today marks my last full day in Guatemala. After almost to two months here I’m ready for a new country but in this time I’ve noticed some things that I think are worth sharing. Some of these may have been true in Mexico and will probably be true in other countries but I first noticed them here.

  • Men have no qualms with taking a piss in public areas. The side of the road, a round-about, walls, wherever.
  • Guatemala needs some type of vehicle emissions check. In Xela I would always notice people walking down the street with a scarf covering their mouth.
  • I am happy to report that there is a significant drop in graffiti here compared to Mexico. If it is around it’s usually more interesting to look at as well.
  • From Quetzaltenango 2010-10
  • Large bills are death. Don’t even bother walking into your local tienda with a 100 Quetzal note.
  • Beer is measured in 12 oz bottles or by the liter. I prefer the liter.
  • For some phrases to have their full impact you also have to ‘snap’ your fingers. The ‘snap’ isn’t the snapping that were used to but a flick of your wrist that slaps your pointer finger against your middle finger to create a snapping sound. For whatever reason I always found it funny to see old, Mayan women doing this.
  • When entering or leaving a room full of people you must greet and say good-bye to each person individually. The generic ‘Hi’ to the entire room won’t suffice.
  • I think this is true in southern Mexico as well but I wasn’t there long enough to really notice its prominence.
  • Strangers look you in the eye while passing you in the street and will always say hello instead of the cold shoulder or awkward acknowledgment that people give you in the US.
  • Even though Guatemala grows some of the best coffee in the Western Hemisphere people here mostly drink instant coffee. Most of the good stuff is exported unless you can find a decent cafe.
  • People have no problem throwing their trash on the ground. Any type of waste management system outside of cities seems to be nonexistent so in some areas there is little choice. It really bothered me when people were standing next to a trash can and still just threw their trash on the ground; or when they threw plastic bottles out of bus windows.
  • There are only two companies with any real advertising presence. The cell phone company Tigo and the main beer of choice Gallo.
From Tikal & Flores 2010-11
Gallo advertising on the entrance into Flores.
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Filed under: Cubicle Ditcher, Guatemala, Random Thoughts

About the Author:

Sam Langley left a comfortable and profitable job with an insurance company in the USA to travel the world. He has been going for years, and has not stopped yet. Keep up with his travels on his blog at Cubicle Ditcher. has written 147 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.