Properly stamped and fully jostled, we make our way to the bus station.
I am with all my gear and carrying our food bag. I've
got way too much stuff!
Looking back, we would recommend at this point to hire a
tuk-tuk or 3-wheeled taxi to take you both to a bank to
get local currency and then to the bus station. Two
hundred meters turned out to be an uphill climb with
some unanticipated twists and turns along the way.
is a flatter section of the road we walked, and banks
are located along this street, about half-way to the bus
station. For about 10 Pesos each, save time and effort
and take the taxi!
relieved to be relieved of my baggage!
is what we ended up doing. These 3-wheeled taxis run up
and down from the customs area to the bus station. They
know why you are here, and it's worth the meager price rather
Heaving our backpacks onto the top of the roof of our
there are no electronics in there!
the moment the taxi dropped us off at the bus station, men are
shouting over and over 'Huehuetenango! Huehuetenango!'
At first all this commotion felt assaulting and having
strangers grab our gear and irreverently throwing them
atop this tin can had us hesitating. But moments later,
when we gathered our wits, we realized that they do lash the
bags down once everyone's belongings are up on the roof.
within seeming chaos: a
of both the weight of our packs and the disarray of our
surroundings, we now relax!
plan on these buses is to get comfortable right away and many times
sit in different seats to give us both more room. After
more than 3 decades of partnership, there is no need to cram ourselves
in right next to each other on every bus ride. A little breathing room is
we didn't get to those banks before boarding this bus,
we had no Quetzales, the Guatemalan currency. No
worries, 40 Pesos each bought us tickets to HueHue. I'm
sure the price would have been much less had we purchased in
Here's a closer look at one Quetzales coins. When
we were in Guatemala, the exchange was about 8 Q's to
some reason the bus we took would not take us to El
Centro but rather, dropped us off in what seemed to
us to be a stranded location. The locals on the bus
couldn't understand why we were being ousted either, but
off we go. From this location we paid another 5
Mexican Pesos each to get to the center of town.
tourists are in town, and everyone wants to make a
can see by the upper left portion of this map that we are in the
Guatemalan State of Huehuetenango. With the exception of Guatemala City
most cities in this country are small.
this area was a Mam Mayan settlement before the Spanish
conquered it in the 1500's, the Mam name was
Xinabahul. When Gonzalo de Alvarado made allies with
the local Nahua and over took the area, he gave the name
Huehuetenango to this town. As you know, conquerors will
often rename cities they overtake to make the
subjugation of previous occupants complete. Many times
those who are subjugated will keep the previous name
among themselves as a mild form of rebellion. This is
still what happens in Guatemala, all these years later.
the Nahuatl language, tenango means 'place of'
and you will see many cities in this country bearing
tenango in their names. Huehuetenango means 'place
of the ancestors.'
Cathedral at the Main Plaza
Mam language is still spoken today by more than 40,000
people in the Huehuetenango, Quetzaltenango, San Marcos
and Retalhuleu areas. Huehuetenango is bisected by the
highest mountains in Central America, the Sierra de Los
Another view of the same Plaza.
was our pattern, we left the boys off here guarding our
belongings, while we ladies went out shopping for hotel
rooms. This was our first stop in Guatemala, and it took
us a few moments to realize that Huehue, as all
Guatemalan cities, was laid out in a grid pattern with
avenidas running one way and calles the
Initially, we couldn't find street signs at all, and
when we did, the names of the streets and hotel
addresses seemed mind boggling as in: 4a Av. 1-45 Zona 1
or 2 C 6-67.
Eventually we realized that we were looking at 4th
Avenue and 2nd Street.
The Adventurer's Guide to
Don’t go to
Guatemala without this book! Take advantage of what we know. Click
Friendly bank guard
time to time we hear from our readers about how
frightened they are that guards with guns are seen on
the streets of Mexico and Central America. We have been
traveling the world since 1991 and guards such as this
are all over the globe. Their job is to protect the bank
and keep the streets in order. Most are friendly to
tourists and native civilians.
stay in Huehue is planned for only 2 nights, so after we
got settled in, we hit the streets to see what we could
Fruits in the tropics are tasty, abundant and very
affordable. These 'to-go' bags have a mixture of papaya,
pineapple, and watermelon and sell for about $0.50 US
each. Grapes, small plums and nectarines are behind me and pre-peeled oranges are on
the table in the left of the photo. Peeling them
beforehand prevents less compost-style garbage on the
Notice the child asleep against the wall with blankets
in coffee country!
Huehue's chief export is coffee and we will have the
luxury of tasting Guatemalan coffee all throughout the
country. We stopped into this little cafe and ordered
delicious lattes and cappuccinos.
What a treat!
Mayan woman carries her child on her back in traditional
fashion. She wears a selection of woven clothing made in
her village. Her skirt is a wrap-around style that
allows ease for walking, is completely modest, and will
still fit her if she becomes pregnant.
is also carrying 2 machetes and was about to board a
bus. No metal detectors here!
Native to southern Asia, this delicious fruit has been
cultivated, praised and even idolized since the 4th and
5th century B.C. Taken on voyages to Malaya and east
Asia by Buddhist monks, the Persians are said to have
taken them to East Africa about the 10th century A.D. It
was commonly grown in the East Indies, and the
Portuguese brought it to West Africa and Brazil in the
planted in Barbados in 1742, it reached Jamaica in 1782,
and early in the 19th century, it reached Mexico.
mangoes are eaten green, like in
Thailand, and there are
fibrous mangoes used for juicing and sweet, pulpy
mangoes used for desserts.
are lots of ways to eat corn, and some cultures use the
sweet kernels in desserts. This corn on the cob has a
popsicle stick through the cob and the corn is laden
with crema and strawberry syrup.
under a cabbage leaf?
Children are often brought to market while the parents
sell their goods. So here is this beautiful, well-fed
child, eating a mango, with her feet on guavas,
surrounded by cabbages, cucumbers, onions and jalapenos!
Another happy child and a proud mother.
Mayans are known for their decoratively embroidered
blouses called huipiles. Elaborate designs and
patterns may convey the wearer's village, her marital
status and personal beliefs.
woman is also wearing a hand woven skirt, a hand
embroidered huipil, and 2 aprons. The top apron is
functional for money and items like carrying her cell
phone. The underlying apron is reflective of personal
and village style.
meaning to the term 'bucket list.'
of the many things I have come to appreciate about
native peoples is how efficiently they carry items. It
is very common - not silly in the slightest - to be seen
carrying cloth, vessels of water, foodstuffs, and in
this case, buckets on top of their heads.
our 'sophisticated' eye, she looks ridiculous, wacky, or
zany, and we might feel embarrassed for her lack of a
she has for sale is prominently displayed on her head.
Both of her arms are free to display the choices she
offers to her clients. She does not have to place her
wares on the dirty (sometimes muddy) street where
someone might run by and snatch her goods, or where she
might scatter or forget them. Since her hands are free,
she can make change easily when her items are purchased.
And in carrying her merchandise in a balanced manner,
she does not stress out the muscles of her back or slip
Honestly, I envy their mental and emotional freedom to
do be so practical.
you imagine walking the streets of your own home town
with a pile of buckets on your head? I'm sure your
country club membership would come into question!
Stunning and colorful flowers of Guatemala, native Maya
woman on her cell phone.
decided to visit the ‘big’ market here in town
specifically to see the locals in their native dress.
where the Maya hide from the camera, in Huehue people
are very friendly, eager to chat and laugh, and love to
have their photo taken with you or by themselves. No one
hides from the camera and no one demands to be paid.
Notice the decorated, hand dyed and crocheted scarf this woman
wears, and her different style of huipil with
geometric designs and gold threads.
are coconuts for sale in the basket in the left of this
vendor has quite a setup. A wheel barrel, crate and
fruit and he's open for business anywhere.
are different styles of vendors at markets. There are
the ones that go to the same location each market day
and set up shop on their blankets or plastic tarps. In
this manner, if you like the vendor's product, you know
exactly where to find them each week. They emphasize
stability, dependability, quality and are building a
there is the 'moveable feast' type like this man. If no
traffic is coming to him, he goes to the traffic to
sell. He might have less goods or less variety, but he
emphasizes freshness and opportunity for better pricing.
Next week he might be selling nuts, coffee beans,
bananas, oranges or strawberries.
he is selling types of mangoes, with his 'on
special' items in the plastic bags.
Having a tough day fella?
can't tell you how many times I have wondered 'What
is this child's story here?' This young man sits on
the steps in the market place - maybe for a rest, maybe
because he hasn't had any luck selling his plastic bags
that morning, maybe because he is hungry and is
Regardless of the fantasy I might build around him,
there is no disputing that he reflects unhappiness. His
canvas tote bag is filled with plastic bags that he must
sell, and if his tale is like other native children's,
what he sells pays for his meals of the day.
It's not what you think...
Guatemalan custom, students in college dress up in the
colors that reflect their studies, each color for a
different college: Engineer, Accounting,
Law, Dentistry... All of the costumes have the same
design with hoods and long sleeves. They wander the
streets with their tin cans hoping to collect money for
their graduating papers or their school supplies. They
are covered from head to toe for anonymity and to keep
the playing field fair for the gathering of funds.
pastries are being sold in the baskets on the right.
Casa Blanca Hotel and Restaurant
restaurant was recommended for a good upscale meal, so
we thought we'd give it a try.
And buen provecho!
Here's a photo of our full meal with filet mignon for 46
Q’s, Pollo Mediteraneo for 52 and Chicken Fajitas for
38. A lovely bottle of Chilean wine for 125 Q’s and and
an outstanding zamora agua fresca.
mountainous terrain map only shows the Guatemalan State of Huehuetenango.
Volcanoes in Guatemala are spread throughout the
country’s highlands, totaling over 30 that dot the
105 Day Adventure
with the bus ride of our
lives to our next destination, the city of Quetzaltenango.
real Guatemalan flavor with indigenous people wearing
native dress go to Mercado del Democracia - 10
blocks north of Parque Centroamerica, 1a calle,
more information, stories and photos of Guatemala,