Guatemala and Belize 14 Jan - 24 Feb 2015 travel blog

Airport coffee after failing to find an ATM

Left UK reluctantly with continuing bad cold but jet lag seems to have solved it. The flights worked out well with empty seats to stretch out on during the London to Dallas leg - perhaps a dose of Ebola keeps people off flights to those destinations! The second leg was not so kind very full and very noisy so I was glad to get to the hotel which is very close to the airport and just hit the shower and bed.

The hotel is quaint but comfortable and my room has a patio onto the small garden which is decorated at the moment with my laundry. The staff are really helpful: the receptionist speaks very good English and the owner speaks very good Italian

At breakfast I met Eva, Danish, retired and travelling alone and, as we both needed currency, we walked to the airport where normally it would be easy to find an ATM - but not here. To get in you need to be a passenger and go through security so we weren't allowed in and we were told there were no ATM's only Change bureaus so we consoled ourselves with a coffee to draw up plan B.

I, rather enterprisingly I thought, paid with a $20 dollar note and got the change in local currency which was something.

Returning to the hotel, the receptionist then told us of another machine in the Handicraft market which we walked to with good conversation on the way. I took the maximum the machine would allow but enough to pay the hotel and have a good buffer and pay for a snack. Then we went to the 'ladies'. Now usually this would not be a journal entry but while in there Eva, who speaks some Spanish, starting questioning a young girl about our next plan and how to get there. Michelle, all of 19 and looking 12, told us the rather complicated way, but also said she was having a driving lesson and her instructor would take us! The instructor, about 12, arrived in a bashed up car and unhesitatingly bundled us in. Not content to leave us opposite the shopping mall, he then took another 30 mins. in horrendous traffic to be able to leave us in front of the mall itself. Not much time was left for the driving lesson! By this time we had found out a lot about Michelle who is at university training to be a doctor, and about Guatalmalans themselves - so friendly and easy going.

While Eva had her hair cut, I went and found some food - a wrap with fresh vegetables as I hadn't eaten with Eva in the handicraft market. I was quite hungry so surprised to see it was still not 1pm although it seemed more like 4pm!

We had some further friendly encounters with the population trying to find the bus ticket office for Eva who is now able to leave for El Salvador tomorrow because we were successful. I had got the hotel to phone my bus station for the information I need for my week between trips so feel comfortable with my plan and didn't want or need to venture into the centre which I'll see with the group.

After this long day, we found a nice bar with no coffee so had a very good dark beer instead before giving in to catching a taxi to return to the hotel.

I has been a very full and long day (I got up a 6 this morning) so back at the hotel, 4pm, I made some tea and did the laundry. I am quite tired so shall end my day with a very early night. Tomorrow I move to the group hotel in the lively zone we half explored today.

A pleasant start and a surprising one to find such good company at the breakfast table.

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