We haven’t visited a large city for what I think is probably years, so entering Guatemala City was exciting, despite Arthur being ill and us just wanting to get to the hotel we found at short notice (literally booked en-route in the car) as soon as we could. For Dave, there was the added element of driving in multiple lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic, whilst I tried to translate what I could see on Google Map, and the route it was advising us to take, into directions that matched the real roads- some of the turnings we were supposed to take weren’t possible from our lane, and the one-way systems didn’t always match the map. Luckily, drivers in Guatemala seem to be very courteous, and, perhaps because they are used to looking out for the motorbikes which proliferate here, are more aware of other road users than is our experience elsewhere.
The parts of the City we saw were much like any other- large tower blocks, commercial centres housing the same shops every few hundred metres, roads lined with tiendas, areas of better housing contrasting with the poorer. As well as looking out for the most common store combinations- Megapaca, AKI, La Torre- the boys had a particular favourite game of trying to spot the pick-up trucks carrying their cargoes of large, hairy pigs. Las Fronteras has its share of animal transport and large, loud trucks, but Guatemala City still felt a bit like another world compared to the feeling of being immersed in nature you get in the Rio.
With Arthur being ill, we spent most of our time in the hotel room. Due to COVID, we had been trying to avoid spending time in the city, especially indoor attractions, and the hotel didn’t seem to be close to anything that we could walk to outdoors. The website mentioned a pool, but when Hector and I went to explore, it had been boarded over. Hector and I also walked to find a park marked on Google Maps, but the sports complex it was attached to was closed, and the park appeared to be only a narrow strip of grass with a broken old mini-tractor, so wasn’t worth return trip.
We ordered too much food on UberEats, partly because the hotel didn’t offer meals in the room and we didn’t want to take turns sitting in any restaurants in case any of the rest of us were also sick. All in all, it was a bit of an inconvenience having to stop, but it was only one full day and Arthur really needed the rest- he barely ate or drank for 24hrs. Luckily, the owner of Camp AKT, our originally destination after the waterpark, was flexible about our stay, and we still managed to get two nights there rather than the four we had planned.