Hold onto your pimped-out buses, we're going to Guatemala. One thing I love about Central America is the super colorful public buses, often covered in designs, decals, pictures of Jesus, roof racks...some even have slick grills up front. I don't believe it's an attempt at showboating though, because like I said, these are public buses. It's just an overall more colorful culture, literally and figuratively. We took a car, by the way.
Border patrol on the El Salvador side was two uniformed officials sitting under a tent. One friendly old lady was spouting a lot of spanish while checking our documents...I did pick up the word "peligroso" which I knew meant "dangerous." I had already heard the Guatamalan side near the border was a bit ghetto anyways so yeah, it was the first time I had actually felt a little nervous entering a new country. Scenes from the movie "Proof of Life" kept running through my mind. Border patrol on the Guatemalan side was an abandoned station, completely nonexistent. I guess they have an open policy concerning traffic from El Salvador.
The second morning in Guatemala was spent in Antigua, a little town situated in a valley. There were a lot of caras blancas abound - I hear lots of gringos and euros retire there. There were a lot of Angelina wannabes too, carrying around their newly adopted Guatemalan babies like they were accessories. I did notice all the local women, young to old, wore traditional colorful and patterned clothing which I thought was beautiful.
From what I've seen, all the little towns here in Central America are centered around a central plaza or park, where the main church is situated. Church and community it seems are the foundations of society here. The look of this town was very similar to Apaneca and Suchitoto in El Salvador except Antigua was a more restored place, likely due to the tourism. The borrachos you always see hanging around the central plaza are hilarous.
That night, I tagged along with Viki's family to their cousin's graduation party in Guatemala City. The grad parties here are very much like the gringo prom, the main difference being that the parents take part in the festivities too, at least for the normal portion of the night. Music, dancing, elaborate dress...at a glance it looks like an episode of MTV's "Sweet Sixteen" except not one person is the spoled center of attention. I actually quite like this tradition here compared to the gringo prom, which is basically an elaborate party held for no particularly special occasion.
And don't let the Antigua pictures fool you, Guatemala City is quite modern and bustling. This video (if you can see it) is however the countryside...