Wednesday, November 19, 2008

How to Get to Guatemala Without Flying

1. Start at San Diego airport. Ask the nice lady at the information desk about the bus to the Mexican border. She will tell you: You know that 40 to 50 people are shot everyday in Tijuana, right? You did not know that.

2. At Terminal 1, take the 992 bus to Broadway and Kettner.

3. At Broadway and Kettner, take the blue trolley to San Ysidro.

4. Walk the pedestrian skyway and cross the border into Mexico.

5. Forget to have Mexican officials stamp your passport at the border.

6. Have a cab driver take you to the central bus station. The cab driver will tell you that there are virtually no tourists now because of the violence. I later learn that local funeral homes and casket manufacturers are making a killing (sorry).

7. Wander aimlessly in the bus station and learn that from now on, a visit to every public restroom in Mexico will cost 3 pesos. Have Mexican immigration officer randomly stop you. Act nervous and expect to be hosed. Be pleasantly surprised when he stamps your passport and sends you on your merry way.

8. Take an Elite bus for 42 hours to Mexico City's North Terminal.

9. As you exit the Terminal, you will see a sign pointing to a booth for authorized taxis. Pay 75 pesos and get a ticket. Give the ticket to a waiting taxi outside. The driver will take you to TAPO station.
10. Enjoy the nicest bus station you will ever set foot in. Take a 16 hour ADO GL bus to Tapachula.

11. Take a TICA bus from Tapachula. The bus will drop you off at the Mexican side of the border. You will visit the Mexican official, pay him a 200 peso "fee" and walk across a bridge into Guatemala. At the sight of the chaos, poverty, suspicious children, and pushy moneychangers, you wonder if you've made a terrible mistake. Clutching your backpack, the Guatemalan official stamps your passport. You get back on the TICA bus, relieved.

12. About an hour away from Guatemala City, the driver encourages people to get off in the middle of nowhere if their ultimate destination is Antigua. Get off in the middle of nowhere.

13. Make friends with four Swedes going the same way. Cross six lanes of traffic on foot. Realize that you should not have crossed. Cross the six lanes back to where you started. Walk to a sleepy outdoor restaurant. Wait for a chicken bus.

14. Board the chicken bus. Sit next to a nice student, who will welcome you and answer all of your dumb-ass questions about Guatemala.

15. Arrive at Antigua.

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