Wednesday, November 19, 2008
OFF TO GUATEMALA.....AND NICARAGUA
Labels: Dangerous Guatemala City
I can´t recommed going into Guatemala City at this point, it´s too dangerous. Over the last year or two, more than 100 bus drivers have been killed, that´s over 100, squeezed by gang members applying extorsion tactics to the companies, and killing drivers when rejected. There have been 653 women killed in the whole country this year and about 6300 women raped and beaten over all countrywide, according to a morning story in the Presa Libre, which has become quite a reputable paper these days. The headlines this morning declared that the government paid indigenous people, about 20,000 of them, anywhere from 50-75 Quetzales )(7.5 to the dollar) each to come in to the capital and demonstrate IN FAVOR of the goverment´s proposed budget, which would likely push monies into the hands of the leaders rather than into the specific programs to help the education, health, and welfafe of the people. Really astonishing. Every day there are stores of 7, 8,or 15 people murdered it the capital. The goverment can´t send in security guards for the buses as: 1. they are out of money, having pocketed it all, and 2. the security guards are many times working for the drug lords,the gangs, beholden to them. Three more people murdered this moring, a passenger, a driver and a young gang member who had previously been jailed but let out on a low bail amount.
So, at the airport one must jump into a hired car or hotel representative and drive directly to Antigua, where these problems seem a million miles away, even though it is just a 45-minute drive. DO NOT DRIVE AFTER DARK. There is crime here after dark, particularly, but it has improved in the last year or so. Just make sure you are home by 10 pm as that'[s the cutoff hour for the tuk-tuk's, the two person little taxis. Iit´s a small city, walkable from end to end, north to south, east to west, but don't walk after dark, call a reputable cab from your hotel.
I´m still in awe of what a truly remarkable place this city is, especially when walking around at 7 am before the traffic starts. Cobblestone streets, huge churches, both in ruins and in use (personal favorite is San Francsico on 1st Ave. South), cool sunny climate, perfect for a hour or two of fast walking. The historical board does a very good job here, and it should serve as a model for other colonial cities.
Our hotel is a dream, we are very lucky. La Quinta de Las Flores, an old public bath and laundry, coloial times. Four or five pools, fountains and a couple of acres of tended beautiful gardens, exquisite textiles adorning each room, the volcano peeking out from behind the morning mist in the distance. Only about 14 rooms. http://quintadelasflores.com/about-us.htm I don´t get paid to mention this, honest. It´s going to be hard to leave.
Posted by Judith Haden at 9:48 AM