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Quetzaltenango – Guatemala

Quetzaltenango – Guatemala

L'épopée du siècle

So hang on there ! How a 15-hour trip turns into a 26-hour trip.
The original idea was to do Mexico City - Tapachula 12 hours by night bus then Tapachula - Quetzaltenango in 3 hours by public transport type combi or others. I had looked on my favorite site Rometorio, which calculates the routes and offers you all the possible solutions to perform the said route. He has always been reliable .... well so far.
In reality, it turned out rather like the following:
Mexico City - Tapachula 9 p.m. by bus with the Titanium company for 750 pesos. Yes yes you read that right. The 12h walk turned into a 21h journey. You should have seen my head upon waking at 7am 😂. I look out the window and there I realize that we are in the middle of the pampas. I check our position on Google Maps. We are halfway there. Uh, the app doesn't work? I check several times and the app always positions me in the same place. My cloudy brain takes a moment to understand the anomaly which is in fact ... the bus. He stops all the time, for a long time, drives very slowly, makes detours. In short, it is the ride of the century. So I arrive at 4:30 p.m. at Tapachula instead of 7 a.m. Yeah, it is going to be a long day.
Tapachula - the Border 30 mins in a combi for 23 pesos, on a backless seat. There are only Mexicans around me. That, on the other hand, I love it.
I arrive at the border guard post and there Big News. There has just been a thunderstorm, the electricity is cut off. Without a computer, well, no passport verification. Conclusion, we have to wait for it to come back ... That moment I say to myself: "there is a balance in everything. Clearly, I pay for all my great trips in Mexico". Luckily, I wait 20 mins. My little feet, me and my 2 suitcases finally cross the famous Mexico-Guatemala dividing line. It's dark, it's raining. What joy !
And there, new delirium, 12 guys jump on me, or rather on my luggage. They catch them all bawling words in Spanish at the same time. Well, it's not won ! My Mexican adventure mainly made me speak English since many practice it there. I manage to understand that they want to take me to my next destination. Reaction: "Hold on! We freeze, we step back and I keep my luggage." My priority is to have my passport stamped. 90-day sesame that will allow me to travel to 4 countries: Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua. The employee gives a carefree buffering. I explain to her that I have to change my remaining pesos into quetzales, otherwise I will go nowhere. As it is dark, I forget the idea of ​​the ATM, too dangerous. Super nice, she indicates me the good guy in the long line installed outside. The decor is quite astonishing, moreover: the street, on either side, men sitting on a chair behind a table with piles of banknotes placed on it, all protected by a parasol. I benefit from an attractive exchange rate. Top ! But despite everything I only have the equivalent of 20 euros with me. My 12 guys have been following me all this time of course. Seeing me with quetzales, rebelote, they peep again squinting at my luggage. I validate the proposal of a young person who must be barely 15 years old (combi with green band, important detail, it is the officials). Great moment: he takes my luggage, his friend the other and here they are running to nab the combi. The only thing I say to myself as I run behind them is "if they run away with my belongings in 2 opposite directions, what luggage I save ? 😂😂😂. But no, they will put everything in the right combi in exchange for a tip. So here I am installed in the front of a big van with my stuff, soaked, hungry but happy to move towards my destination.
Frontier - Mazacatlan in combi therefore for 50 qtz. (of the scam, I took the lead with the driver). But hey, we do not always win. He drops me off at a chicken bus (explanation below). I smile, 1st experience of this kind.
Mazacatlan - San Marcos 30 qtz. The bus rolls like crazy, takes the bends at full speed. The scenery looks amazing despite the night. I guess the contours, the heights, I can not wait to be in broad daylight. We arrive in San Marcos, everyone gets off, the driver turns around and says: "where are you going? -" in Quetzaltenango - "No, it is 8:30 pm, there are no more buses" - "Yes, I have to go there, I booked a room - "nop, you won't go, there is nothing left at that time -" ok, do you know a hotel, cheap, clean and near the terminal? "Very nice, he stops in front of a hotel he knows, rushes to ask for the price, validates with me, takes my luggage down and leaves.
Summary of the races: 26 hours of travel, I have been without a phone since I crossed the border, at a destination and a hotel not chosen, it is dark, it is cold (10 degrees humid), I only wear a sweet on me because I have nothing else, and I only have 30 quetzals left to eat. Suffice to say that I had the morale in the socks. I was already sad to leave my beloved Mexico, but it ended me. So I will eat an 18 qtz burger and fries in a nearby restaurant, whimpering in front of the 80s clips playing on the screen. Obviously I hurt them because they offered me orange juice to cheer me up.😂So cute ! I went to bed after an almost hot shower, dressed from head to toe under 3 blankets. It curdles but it curdles. Go to sleep ! Tomorrow is another day. Travel is that too.
Why did you not take the plane ? Answer: it cost me 3x more and the initial idea was not bad ...

To visit

Xela Guatemala

Quetzaltenango (Xela)

Top 11 to do in and around Quetzaltenango

Quetzaltenango says "Xela"

Quetzaltenangoalso known as Xela (for Xelajú, old name of the city which means “at the foot of the mountains”) is the 2nd largest city in Guatemala. It is located in the southwest of the country at 2,333 meters altitude and has a wide variety of landscapes: mountains, volcanoes, hot springs, valleys, rivers. Concretely, this city is rather at the foot of volcanoes, some of which are dangerous, closely watched by scientists such as Santa Maria, who claimed 6,000 victims in 1902 during its last eruption. Its population is 65% indigenous and Native American and was built over 300 years before the arrival of the Spaniards. You will find many Indian villages, with traditional and authentic colorful markets.

Personally, I started my trip with this city because I wanted to visit las Fuentes Georginas located near Quetzaltenango; they are hot springs. Suddenly, this is the opportunity to see what a big city looks like in Guatemala. I was strongly advised against Guatemala City because it has a dangerous reputation with nothing to do with it. Objectively, Xela is not a city that particularly stands out for its elegance. The Parque Central is cute and has a few things to see, but overall everything is dated, dusty, polluted, crumbling under electric wires… The majority of tiendas are behind gates, which does not invite shopping. On the other hand, the surrounding nature is quite different. But considering the ambient cold, I will not stay long.  

During one of my walks near my neighborhood, I see a grandpa, door open, at work on his sewing machine. I hasten to give him the hems of a jumpsuit I bought in Mexico. Cost of the operation 20 qtz (2.30 euros). He is happy, I am not telling you. Of infinite kindness, the heart of this gentleman warmed me a lot. Kisses and hugs before leaving; this is also Guatemala 🥰

Did you know ?
Chicken bus

In Central America and more particularly in Guatemala, public transport is nothing more than old American school buses which live their 2nd life here. These vehicles are possibly repainted and adorned with colorful patterns. Many other modifications are carried out, such as the installation of overpowered sound systems (Panama…), or resonators intended to modify the noise of the exhaust.
Why this name ?
1st explanation) The term "Chicken Bus" would originate from Guatemala and would come from the fact that passengers often carried live animals on them, this does not happen often anymore.
xplanation 2) Decommissioned, revived and refurbished, crisscrossing every inch of the roads of Central America with passengers crammed in like, well, chickens, carrying just about anything, huge sacks of coffee and baskets of melons in (you may have guessed) chickens.

Las Fuentes Georginas

🚌 Xela - Zunil by bus for 7 qtz. The bus is taken at Shell station. - Las Fuentes Georginas by tuk tuk for 40 qtz. For the same price, there are taxis. But I set my heart on this adorable little man like everything with his cart. Admission is 60 qtz (7 euros).

Access to these thermal springs is via a small road that climbs up the mountainside (bordered by fields). In the heart of the highlands, the tropical atmosphere is amazing. Immersed in a thick mist which dissipates at times, these thermal springs made up of several pools in the middle of nature, guarantee a unique and relaxing moment. This place is very popular among the locals. I was also the only foreigner to dabble in the midst of Guatemalan families. 

Advice: take refuge near the rocks, the water is warmer there. Take sweater or jacket with you. Believe me, up there, coming out of the water, aglagla🥶. 🥶.

Return: the best is to give a meeting time for the return to the person who dropped you off. This will save you the hassle since there is no network to call from the sources. I was thinking of hitchhiking back down to Zunil but a Guatemalan family I met in the pools offered to drop me off at the bus. So nice ! Here I am in the back of a pick up with their 3 funny teenage girls. 


I am on the bus towards las Fuentes when we pass through a village. It literally stops every 2 mins not to say 30 seconds. Each person is dropped off in front of their home. Incredible ! Me, I laugh and I admire at the same time all these women wearing traditional outfits. It is really beautiful to see. A grandpa using a cane to walk walks with difficulty to get off the bus. He hands his ticket to the driver to pay for the trip, but the latter refuses. The grandpa rubs his head telling him how good guy he is. I am moved by this scene. Most of them are poor, but there is good mutual aid between them. It's nice !


-  Utz Service Hotel Chela   -

Hotel that I had booked on Booking and then canceled being blocked in San Marcos. No cancellation fees, great ! Finally arrived in Quetzaltenango, so I went directly to this one. I negotiated on the spot at 80 qtz per night. For this price, I have a double room with private bathroom. 

Strengths of the establishment
Negative points of the establishment

Bars & Restos

Here are some addresses on which I had a crush

Cafe Armonia

Coffee shop recommended by a local. Excellent coffee and smoothies! The staff are really nice. Good location for telecommuting. 

A La Gran Pizza

Good value for money. The place does not look like much but it is good and plentiful. Special mention for the Calzone. Pleasant service. 


Yeh! Bof ! Flash stay. I do not recommend starting Guatemala with this destination. There is much better in this country to acclimatize. Geographically, it suited me to do like that and it is without regret. I had a good time in this area but I will not say that was great. I was able to see another Guatemala far from the tourist areas. To do if you pass by but do not make a detour on purpose. 

Next destination: Atitlan Lake. Departure from central bus terminal zone 3. 

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December 25, 2021 9:56 am

Oh la la j’aurais adorée voir ta tronche au sortir du bus. L’épopée du siècle 🤣 mais c’est ça aussi les voyages. Richesse et découverte. J’adore tes récits. Somme d’habitude toujours très bien écrits et documentés. Photos et expériences magiques même si les endroits visites ne font toujours pas rêver. Qui dit que faire du tourisme doit toujours rimer avec super expérience ? Le côté super sympa et important c’est la rencontre avec les gens du pays et pour cela tu en prends toujours plein la vue. C’est génial.
Je te lis toujours avec beaucoup de plaisir.
Ma lecture du matin super inspirante. Fière de toi ma chérie, eres un máquina como se diría aquí en España! Te echo mucho me menos 😘

Marjorie Guillaume
January 5, 2022 3:55 pm

Toi aussi tu me manques ma biquette 😘 Je suis super contente que mes articles te plaisent. Je relate la réalité. Le voyage est parfois top, parfois l’inverse. Mes récits sont authentiques comme mes photos 😊

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