So the plan was now to head down through central Guatemala and head over to Antigua. Followed the signs pointing toward Guatemala City and realized before too long that something didn’t quite feel right. Took out the trusty GPS and sure enough, I was heading an opposite way. I should know better than to trust street signs at this point, but hey, Rio Dulce seemed like it wouldn’t be too far, and I heard it was something to see, so why not?
When I arrived at Rio Dulce, what I seemed to see was murky water, and generally depressing atmosphere. I’m not entirely sure, but I’m guessing I rolling through during low season, as there did seem to be quite a bit of boats docked and there was the air about that festive times were hiding somewhere.
With not much to do, I found a great little little rustic cabin off on its own that was quite charming…and with a thunderstorm that evening, it was a good night to stay in….
Well, before long I though better to get back on the road and head on to Antigua, which I heard so much about!
Took off in the afternoon to head to Guatemala City as it didn’t seem like too far of a drive. About half way there, I happened to notice right after a small town some signs that seemed to indicate there may be some interesting tourist sights right around the corner so I decided there was time for a brief detour to check it out.
After the turn, I started driving into a very small village. Unfortunately although it was quite small it seemed to look the same, it was off the GPS grid, and I was officially lost. Not too big of a concern because it was small enough that it shouldn’t be too tough to get out. Pulled up to some folks at a food stall to ask directions, very nice folks and seemed so happy and excited to give directions.
I headed off to get going on the right track this time and just ended up doing a circle. Luckily, two of the girls had started to walk after me with a map (maybe guessing I would get lost?) and told me to come back and their father would give me more detailed directions out and to Antigua. So I followed them and after the entire neighborhood came out to talk for almost an hour, I was on my way. But an amazing time talking as best I could with my poor Spanish and such a great feeling at their excitement to have a visitor.
I was able to obtain an email address from the one person that had it, and was able to send a picture a few days after. Then I received the nicest response back inviting me to lunch, but unfortunately I would be quite far away at that time.
It was this type of wrong turn that will remain one of my favorite moments, in that these folks, that had very little were so excited to help, so happy to talk and joke, and so willing to extend an invitation to share a meal, regardless of how humble.
Back on the road after being warned about going through Guatemala City, I ended up in Guatemala City about an hour before sunset. Hmmm, to stop before or go through? Well, luckily, an English speaking local at the gas station assured me there is no problem, very easy to go through the periferico that goes around the city within 10 minutes…easy….no problem!
I’m beginning to learn what “no Problem” really means…..
For some reason, I kept going in circles and the sun was setting. I had been warned by many about being the wrong zone after nightfall, and for the second time, I told myself no more going into big cities later in the day. You just never know how long its going to take to navigate through. I must say, the hospitality was impressive though as I had three different folks try their best to help me out with directions, the last gent even offering for me to follow his family as they were going a similar way, then I would take a turn and go the opposite way. Only thing is, when he started signaling me to turn, not a soul would let me turn! On and around again I went. Luckily, finally I turned into the highway going into Antigua and never breathed so easy rolling onto the magical cobblestone streets of Antigua around 9:00 after a very frustrating evening driving!