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Guatemala City

Written on: Wednesday August 26th, 2009

A journal entry from: Cycle Mexico - Panama

August 19th - 22nd

Arrived in the evening, a bit disoriented as we hadnīt seen a city this size since we left England, but found a fairly cheap hotel near to the bus station. Our first impression of the city was that it felt big, fairly dirty, and a bit rough. We stayed in Zona 1, which was supposed to be one of the poorer areas in the city centre. It felt a bit quiet at night, the only activity in the nearby red light distrcit!

The next day we went for a walk around the city. There were some nice restaurants and bars 20 minutes walk away in Zona 5, where we stopped for lunch. Even further south in the most affluent part of the city, Zona 10, were the expensive hotels and restaurants. Overall the city seemed to show the extremeties of the country with very poor living in shacks on rooftops (for instance), compared to the very wealthy 5 minutes drive away.  

In the evening we returned to Zona 4 to eat more economically and to watch a band in a jazz and blues club. The place was very full, and the band was extremely popular, with everybody singing along.

The city isnīt exactly a beautiful one, even though there are some nice and interesting buildings and a bustling atmosphere in places. One thing that was striking was the proliferation of barbed wire on almost every building. There are also armed guards at most of the bigger shops and hotels. It also seems that it is quite acceptable to use the city (and buses!) as a public urinal. All this didnīt help to create a great impression.

However it was interesting as we wanted to see a big city (3.1 million people) and we enjoyed our stay here, but wouldnīt want to live here!