Guatemala Revisited 2018
24 February to 7 March 2018
It has been a long journey that has come full circle. My last trip to Guatemala was in 1999 and wow has it changed. There are more people, vehicles, and American companies than ever. Everyone seems to have a cell phone and no matter where you go in the country the cell phones work. The one constant from all of my trips here is the people. From the big cities to the smallest of towns you will find some of the kindest people on earth are in Guatemala. Each home you go to wants to share whatever food and comforts they possess. Feeling it is their duty to make you comfortable like you’re part of their family.
24 February 2018 (Saturday)
My trip started as most of my trips do at 4 am. I woke up and took a shower and then jumped into my truck. I left Las Vegas, Nevada and by 9 am I was in Carlsbad, California eating breakfast at Al’s Café in the village. Joining me for breakfast was Kimberly and her friend Craig. After breakfast Kimberly and I went to the Pacific Beach to pick up a buddy of mine. From there we went to Jack Murphy stadium where there was an antique auto swap meet going on.
We spent several hours looking at the Cars and the many parts for sell. We had a lot of fun and it was a complete blast. We departed for Kimberly’s house in La Jolla. That evening I had dinner at Mendocino farms. The food was excellent. I return to Kimberly’s house and had a great night’s sleep.
25 February 2018 (Sunday)
I woke the next day refreshed and ready for a long day of travel. That morning Kimberly and Craig took me to breakfast at Snooze an AM eatery. The place was packed and it took us almost an hour to be seated. The food was good but I would not wait that long again. I spent the rest of the day preparing for my flight to Guatemala. My itinerary had me cross the CBX Bridge and then walking across the border directly into the Tijuana Airport. Kimberly dropped me off at the bridge around 9:00 PM.
It took me about 1 hour to cross the bridge, check in, clear customs, security, and get to my gate.
My airline was Volarias airlines and each airplane has a name. On the flight from Tijuana to Guatemala City my plane was named Maria an Airbus A319. The flight was 4 ½ hours total. There was plenty of leg room and the service was excellent.
26 February 2018 (Monday)
I arrived at the La Aurora Airport in Guatemala City at 7am and by 7:30 am I was out of the airport. Man, I wish America could get their act together to process traveler through customs as quickly as other countries. Anabella was waiting for me when I arrived. Her flight arrived about 15 minutes before mine. From there we went to the rental car counter and within 5 minutes a car was waiting for us. Payless Car Rental in Guatemala gave me the best customer service I have ever experienced in renting a car. The paperwork was quick and we were on the road to Villa Nuevo in no time. The only service they didn’t offer is a GPS rental. Getting around Guatemala City in the morning is a night mare. People come flooding into the city by the thousands. Every street seemed to be filled to capacity.
After getting a little lost, we finally made our way to Anabella’s Mom’s house. We had a nice brunch with one of her friends and got on the road to San Antonio, Dept. Suchitepéquez, Guatemala Map showing where San Antonio is.
We arrived around 2 pm in the afternoon. It was as if time had stood still for the past 20 years that I had not been there. It looked exactly the same. The only big change was that everyone has a cell phone. The last time I was here, having a computer was a big deal. Now you cannot go anywhere without seeing a cell phone in someone’s had. Amazing. After a short visit with Anabella’s cousin we headed off to Julio’s house in San Bernardino, Dept. Suchitepéquez, Guatemala. Upon arrival to Julio’s, he had two rooms waiting for us and we were able to relax before dinner. The restaurant at Mazatlan’s (Julio and Sheny business) made us some excellent garlic shrimp with a fresh salad. I was full and tired, so I had a couple of beers to call it a day.
27 February 2018 (Tuesday)
We started off the day by buying flower for our visit to the grave of Rolando Rodas, my former father-in-law. Rolando was my friend and it was a honor to leave flowers to pay my respects to a great guy. It has been almost 10 years since he passed but, he is still spoken of by many who loved him.
After visiting Rolando, we headed for Mazatenango to complete the paperwork on some business that we had come to Guatemala for. While we were waiting, Julio took me to the centro to find some Marimba music for Mark. It seems we could not even walk one block without someone stopping us to say hello. Everywhere we went, someone seemed to know Julio (El senior de Mazatlan). We found two disc’s with Marimba music and headed back to Julio’s house. That night after serval Gallo beers I headed off to bed for what turned out to be an awesome night’s sleep.
28 February 2018 (Wednesday)
Our thrid day we spent the whole day relaxing and enjoying the facilities of Hostales de San Bernardino. The pool was nice and the food was even better. In the afternoon we completed the business that we had come to Guatemala for and were happy to have that behind us. That way we could enjoy the rest of our trip to the fullest.
Later that evening one of Anabella’s cousin and her boyfriend took us out to eat at Churrascos La Tabla. Mazatenango, Guatemala. The meal was excellent and the beer was cool. It was a great way to end an awesome day.
1 March 2018 (Thursday)
The next morning we got up early with Sheny and headed for Quetzaltenango, Guatemala where Julio Jr. lives. It was a good three hour drive and the scenery was spectacular.
We went through several small towns and each had it’s unique style. Upon arriving we went to the Central Plaza. This where the museums, churches, and government building were located. There was so much to see all in one location. Plus there were many shops and restaurants to peruse through. All though Quetzaltenango is a very large city of 225,000 people, it still has the feel of a small town. The people are friendly and seem generally happy. There are a lot of opportunities for someone who wants to work. After a nice lunch we headed for the high point of the city known as Cerro El Baul.
It is a park on top of a hill overlooking the entire city. The views were magnificent.
Then we visited the house where Julio Jr. lives. He has 5 kids and they are very well behaved. It was nice to see him after so many years. We invited them all to the beach and departed for the long trip back to San Bernardino.
2 March 2018 (Friday)
One thing I had forgotten about being in Guatemala was that when they say 9 am, they really mean around 11 am. Everything moves at a different pace. Just a little slower than we do in the United States. So, we finally got on the road to the beach and arrived at 11 am. It is not what you may expect of the beach as we know it. First you had to take a boat ride on a flat bottom boat and then you had to walk some distance to arrive at the beach. Wow, was it worth the wait. The beach was awesome and the water was warm. Waves were on average about 2 to 3 feet and were perfect for body surfing. The beach was called Tulate. We had lunch and lots of beer. Once again the locals were so friendly. Julio and his family really know how to have a good time.
3 March 2018 (Saturday)
Many years ago Rolando Rodas took Mark Carter and I to a small town called Samayac, Suchitepequez, Guatemala. It is very famous in the local region for being home to many witches. During our trip there we were taken to a small shrine of Saint Chimone. A small black figurine sitting in a wooden chair. He is the patron saint of drunks and smokers. Come to find out on this trip that it was not Saint Chimone but instead it was Saint Simone. Rolando with his wicked since of humor had changed the name. In the local dialect it means Saint of the Fucked. I am sure that he is still laughing today in heaven over telling two Gringos about the famed Saint Chimone. My return to Sanayac was solely to see the shrine again and it is with great disappointment that I must report is no longer there.
Find a pic of San Simone.
4 March 2018 (Sunday)
After traveling around the countryside the last few days, it was time to have a break. So we relaxed around the pool most of the day. In the late afternoon, they had a birthday party for Humberto and Julio. Man was it fun. They even had a Pinata made to look like me. Where Anabella being my ex-wife could wack it to her hearts content. We sang, drank, played games, and had an outstanding time.
5 March 2018 (Monday)
For the first time in 24 years I was celebrating my birthday in Guatemala. Julio and Sheny planned a special breakfast at Don Carlos in Mazatenango. So, we headed out about 9 am and arrived at 9:30 am. While in the parking lot I witnessed Volcano at Santa Maria, Quezaltenango, Guatemala erupting.
Pic of Volcano
Man Don Carlos is a nice restaurant! The staff came out and sang happy birthday. It was such a nice surprise and the service was super! Then it was back to Mazatlan.
It was time to head back to Guatemala City. We loaded up the rental car, said our good byes, and were on our way. We stopped at Lake Amatitlán on the way for lunch and shopping. Another beautiful place with so much to do.
Then we stopped in Villa Nuevo to say good bye to Anabella’s friend and were off to our hotel near the airport. We stayed at Residencia Casa Grande hotel In Zona 15. From there we took a taxi to the Mercado Central de Guatemala. The market was completely underground. There was store after store after store. What an amazing place!! I had a blast negotiating the prices of the Souvenir’s we bought. From there we visited the Cathedral of Guatemala City. Many years ago Anabella and I were married there. It is truly a marvel to see. Well worth the time to look at so much art and relics. Outside of the church we then went to the Palacio Nacional. There are so many things to see and it seems there is never enough time.
6 March 2018 (Tuesday)
I had breakfast with Anabella and packed my bags. Said my good bye and was off to return my rental car. The service a Payless car rental was excellent. I would for sure recommend them to all. They dropped me off to the airport. Then the waiting began. For traveling with Volaris Airlines, never show up more than 3 hours in advance. They will not be open. After they opened, I checked my bag, cleared customs, immigration, and made it to my gate in about 15 minutes. The La Aurora airport is so modern and had many great places to wait for my flight. The flight from Guatemala City to Guadalajara was on an Airbus A320 named Kevin. There was just enough leg room. We landed in Guadalajara and I was in shock. The airport was modern and I would say better than most airports in the United States. Service was awesome and the people friendly.
Then I boarded an Airbus A 321. Much better on the leg room and she was named Maria. It was a smooth ride to the Tijuana Airport. After we landed it took me less than 30 minutes to claim my bags, go through customs, and cross the CBX Bridge to be back in the good old US of A. My brother Joe picked me up and dropped me off at Kimberly’s house. What a long day and off to bed I was.
7 March 2018 (Wednesday)
Woke up, showered, and had breakfast with Kimberly. Then I got on the road by 9:30 am and made it home before 2 pm. I arrived home and unpacked my clothes directly into the washing machine and cleaned all other items with hot water and disinfectant. It is always a good idea to unpack outside your house as to not bring in any unwanted bugs that may have traveled with you. What a great walk down memory lane.
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