Thursday 16 Mar
Creedence: "Bad Moon Rising"
I thought it would be safe to leave my hostel and head to Flores in northern Guate today. Walking the couple of blocks to the bus station, I passed a place with 2 guards outside armed with big fucking shotguns. I later heard that when you arrive in Guate airport, you are asked to place all your guns in a basket as they aren't allowed here. It's like something from Family Guy.
The bus was fine and they put on Creedence, so I was happy. So was the aging bloke next to me who sang along to Bad Moon Rising. It was really hot but no biggie, I'd been in hotter. Then about 4 hours in, it got worse. Much worse.
There were about 5 seats left and we stopped at a town where there was a crowd of about 20 locals waiting for us. I felt sorry for them, thinking they would have to get the next bus, but to my horror, the bus driver proceeded to let every one of them on! They had to stand in the aisles of course. It was the hottest part of the day now aswell and I started getting some serious sweating done.
About 2 hours he let about another 20 people on, I shit you not. The aisle was now so packed that people were being pushed on top of seated passengers like me. I had an aisle seat which made it worse.
What made all this worse still is that the driver stopped for one reason or another about every 30 minutes. Some of the time he'd park in direct sun, so the bus, which was only ventilated by the breeze, got hot like a pizza oven. Even the Creedence fan beside me couldn't stick it: "Oh, Dios Mio!", he'd say, fanning his face.
Twice we were stopped by immigration guys doing spot checks on migrant farm workers. Apparently you have to have a visa for this. They waved me past without checking anything. Presumably it's because I look neither Guatemalteca* nor a migrant farm worker. Although in the past I did look like at least one of those.
The two biggest pisstakes were when the driver pulled in suddenly shouting, "Quiero banos!" ("I have to go to the jacks!") and was gone for 30 minutes. 30 fucking minutes! And then there was the time we stopped beside a farm and the driver and some guys unloaded about 20 sacks of fertilizer onto a pickup. They had been stored in the baggage hold along with the rest of our stuff.
I could go on.
It wasn't all bad though. The crowd was in good form and the scenery was breathtaking, with two thousand-metre mountains left, right and centre. I was very upset any time we passed a slash-and-burn field though, of which there are many here.
Thank God that Flores turned out to be a gem. A lovely homely paving-stoned place with a Ko Samui-ish vibe to it except without all the annoying slutty prostitutes trying to grab your dick. I gladly hit the hay.
* Spanish: Person from Guatemala.