So, we are just about to leave Guatemala behind us and head to Belize. But before we start documenting our new adventures, what did we learn while in Guatemala? Well...
*Health and safety rules are almost non existent.
*The above could be attributed to the fact that they learn at a very young age what can hurt them, kill them or make them sick...all of which we have seen (matches, running round building sites, fire, machetes, and using a used condom as a balloon...YUK!
*The only safety rules we have seen were totally random. i.e. you are allowed to drive like a bat out of hell on hairpin bends with a sheer cliff drop, but speed bumps are put on a straight, perfectly surfaced, well lit road with next to no buildings along it! Go figure...
*Security guards, with really really big guns, are friendly! They can even be relied upon for tourist advice, which they will give you with a smile...USA take note!
*The bus drivers might be crazy but they at least make sure that you catch the bus...even taking the time to stop at certain areas and honk their horns in case there is anyone not quite at the stop yet.
*Guatemalans will try to sell you anything, anywhere. We are not religious but even we thought that selling tourist tat in the ruins of a cathedral was a bit wrong!
*Driving through the countryside makes you think of Vietnam one minute and Scotland the next.
*Guatemalan children are really beautiful...which is probably why their parents think we are going to steal them.
*They may be beautiful but the kids turn crazy, almost violent, when there is a piñata involved!
*There is no point praying to the hot water god, it will always be sporadic, and that is when it exists at all...it is a rare but wonderful thing!
*They really need to let go of their love of Casio keyboard sounds, they weren't good in the 80s and they aren't good now. And they really need to learn another baseline; oom cha cha is incredibly annoying after hearing 50 songs!
*Guatemala will always be the country where Ian's iron stomach finally gave in and that we discovered that group teeth brushing is the way forward.
*You will give in and buy those damn cashews and take a tuk tuk ride at least once. (we made it to the 2nd last day).
*The house building, climbing Pacaya, Semuc Champey and Tikal were really amazing highlights of the trip.
*You can be seriously poor but be incredibly happy. Friends and family are all your need. We definitely gained some perspective.
*Guidebooks are as paranoid as parents. Guatemala is a stunning country with wonderful people. It is a shame that its reputation has been tainted by it's troubled past. We have had an amazing time and are sad to leave.