Saturday, September 11, 2004

Week 11 - Quetzaltenango, Guatemala to Metapan, El Salvador

September 4 - 10, 2004

Saturday to Tuesday - QUETZALTENANGO (XELA)

Field trip for school to a small coffee "finca" (farm) in Colomba - one of the richest coffee zones in Guatemala. On the way back to Xela, we took a different route (by bus) and visited Coatepeque. Interesting that both of these cities are only about one hour from Xela, yet the temperature change is extreme. Colomba and Coatepeque are in the lowlands - hot. It was also interesting to note that the coffee finca we visited in Colomba was nearly abandoned due to the current low price of coffee, mostly due to overproduction all over the world.

Finally left Guatemalan family and the city will be greatly missed!!!

Tuesday to Wednesday - SAN PEDRO LA LAGUNA (AND SOLOLA)

Took two buses to get to Solola, population 40,785. We just happened to arrive on the market day. During market day, many indigenous come to the town from surrounding communities. This is the first time I have seen the majority of men also dressed in traditional garb. Normally only indigenous women dress traditionally. Very colorful and very, very beautiful.

Took a bus to Panajachel and then a boat to San Pedro La Laguna - our final destination for the day. San Pedro is a small town of about 10,000 people, set on a steep hill, with all cobbled roads. It lies at the foot of the San Pedro Volcano (3,020m) and on the shores of Lake Atitlan - a huge lake surrounded by volcanoes and about 12 different villages - all reached by boat. Most people in this particular village are Tz`utujil Maya. It is incredibly, incredibly beautiful and tranquil.

Wednesday to Friday - ANTIGUA (AND GUATEMALA CITY)

San Pedro was another difficult place to leave with its great beauty and peacefulness. Left for Antigua, population 43,000 on a packed bus.

Kiko sharing a seat with a family of four...

Antigua is one of Guatemala`s most popular destinations. This city is colonial in architecture, has an amazing history, and is extremely beautiful. It lies at the base of Volcan Agua (Water Volcano - 3,760m). Two other volcanoes (Acatenango - 3,976m and Fuego - 3,763m) are also clearly visible.

Antigua was founded in 1543 and was the capital city until 1773 when it was greatly damaged by an earthquake - at which point, Guatemala City was founded to become the new capital. The city contains many ruins from various earthquakes which were left untouched. They are now part of Antigua`s beautiful attractions. It is an amazing site - very cool to see. You would not think that a bunch of torn up, broken churches, monasteries, and other buildings would look so incredibly beautiful.

Took a day trip to the capital, Guatemala City to visit the embassies of El Salvador and Honduras to check on entry requirements (visas, fees, tourist cards, etc.). Many people (including Guatemalans) told us not to go...that is is too dangerous. We had to go (embassy business to take care of). Interesting to note that neither of us felt uncomfortable or threatened at any point. It was a pleasant day - no different than visiting any big city.

Leaving tomorrow towards El Salvador. Guatemala - another country that will be very hard to leave.


Left Antigua on a chicken bus, switched into an old greyhound in Chiquimula. In Chiquimula, we took a microbus to the border city, Anguiatu. The ride was pretty.

The border crossing, by foot, was just as great - simple and easy (except they did not believe that Kiko was the same person as the photo in his passport due to his four month old beard...and so he shaved it for proof).


At the El Salvador side, we boarded the last bus of the day, 6pm, to Metapan, population 51,800. Spent the night in the tranquil town and had our traditional border crossing celebration beers. Good bye to Guatemala and hello to El Salvador...

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