20 Jan 2008 1:16 am


Maybe it’s me, maybe it’s Guatemala. Today was a series of nice people. Travel books and travelers themselves often talk about rip offs and tricks to avoid them. What about tricks to attract nice people? My advice would be to just allow people to be nice. Give ’em a chance. Believe them.

I woke up in El Capital, and wanted to get to the Montericco, a beach town on the Pacific coast, about 4 hours by buses. I was tired. I wanted a cheap but easy way. I asked at the front desk about buses to Montericco. They didn’t know, but called someone and figured it out for me. Then they called me a taxi for the bus station. The driver picked me up and delivered me to the right bus station. We chatted on the way. I told him (in Spanish) that El Capital is much nicer than the guide books say. He was pleased. He not only took me directly to the right bus station, but he drove around and found the exact chicken bus and got out of his cab to make sure it was the next one leaving for Montericco.

The guys working the bus took my backpack from the cab driver. I had to wait about 15 minutes to board the bus, and by that time I was fast friends with Antonio, the sandal salesman. Antonio is 70 years old. He was from El Capital, but about 10 years ago, when all of his EIGHT children were well grown up, he separated from his wife and relocated to Montericco and opened a sandalario (sandal shop). Antonio came back to Guatemala City every week or so to load up on flip flops for his shop. He had 3 HUGE bundels on the roof of the ckicken bus. For the 4 hour journey, Antonio took great care of me. We shared a seat. We talked about his history and whatever kind of conversation my Spanish could manage. When the bus stopped at other stations, he bought me a snack (which tasted oily and yucky but I ate it anyway). When we had a 30 minute wait in Taxsisco, he took me to his friend’s shop for a cold coke and insisted on paying. This shop was run by this little OLD Guatemalan lady. She was really old, with long white hair and bandaged up ankels hobbling around, but she was working and smiling. When we got to Montericco, Antonio insisted I share his pickup for the 2km ride to town.

Once in Montericco town, I was not immediately impressed. They had a wind storm the night before and the place was a mess. Within about 2 seconds a man and his YOUNG son asked of I wanted to take a mangrove tour in the morning and if I wanted a hotel. They recommended Hotel Brisas del Mar. Not following my own advice, I didn’t trust that they were recommending me to a good hotel, so I looked at about 4 more. Brisas was by far the best in town. I gave the young kid who had been following me from hotel to hotel a tip. He couldn’t have been more than 5 years old, but he was workin’.

I got a pretty decent cement bungalow for about $6 US, and then headed right for the hammocks with the ocean view. The waiter came right up and got me a BIG FRESH OJ in about 2 minutes, we chatted for some time. Ruben is 22 and from Lago de Atitlan. He’s just a really cool guy and great with all the guests. We helped each other learn spanish and english. We spoke several times over the next 4 days. Ruben is great.

Later in the evening, I searched out the happening bar in town, Johnny’s. Jonny’s isn’t exactly happening, but it’s the most happening in town. I watched the sunset with a papaya banana smoothy in hand. My stomach was upset, and I was planning my next move, when a pretty Guatemalan tourist sat down close by. Mina is Guatemalan, but now lives in Switzerland. She and her American boyfriend and his friend were on a 2 week holiday in Guatemala. They were really friendly and fun. We struck up a conversation with a couple, Vilma and Podrick, from Ireland, and their kids. Vilma is Guatemalan. She used to live in Milbrae (near San Fran). She met Podrick in Milbrae, and then lived there until 1990 when they moved to the Aran islands in Ireland, where Podric is from. All these people were really fun.

Today was one of those days where it was to be sola.

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