Tom's Latest Travels (and his Around-the-World trip too) travel blog

Elma - my host, tour guide and new amiga.

Elma's home - far nicer than any hostel I would have found.

The first day of 2008 was a wild and full day for me. I woke up 11 kilometers deep in the jungle of the Peten region of northern Guatemala, hiked out on day six of my El Mirador trek, caught a 2.5 hour ride back to the town of Flores, and two hours later was at the airport on route to Guatemala City.

At sundown that day, I landed in, and things changed immediately. For starters, I was now at 5,000 feet, and a bit under dressed in my shorts and shirt-sleeved shirt. This was not the sweltering jungle anymore. I would come to like the realtive coolness of the higher country I would spend the next ten days in - but it was a shock at first.

Next, I had the very good fortune of having Elma, the Guatemalan woman I met in Tikal, pick me up at the airport and play host/tour guide/travel partner for most of the rest of my trip. Having Elma show me around her town of Chimaltenango, as well as nearby Antigua and Tecpan, allowed me to see and experience a slice of Guatemala I would have otherwise not seen or experienced. In Chimaltenango, I accompanied her as she ran errands, met with workers at her rental properties, had lunch with her family, and the like. She also took me to a couple of local markets where I was the only gringo, as well as to a hot springs. All the while, I learned much more about Guatemala, its culture and ways of life than I would have on my own.

After that, she joined me on a three day trip to Lake Atitlan and for another day trip to visit the active Volcan Pacaya. A great travel partner, I was bummed when our time was cut short and our trip to Guatemala City aborted - as she had to travel to visit the family of a dear friend of hers that died suddenly.

Hanging with Elma was a treat, and I feel very fortunate to have met her in Tikal.

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