Shortly after crossing the Guatemalan border, we found ourselves on simple country roads with small homes scattered here and there. It immediately felt a tad bit more “rustic” than what we were used to in Mexico. Women carried huge bundles of firewood on their head, and people lingered outside of roadside shops.
We saw bottle after bottle in front of driveways, indicating that they sold gasoline by the gallon/bottle (yes—they use gallons in Guatemala—not liters—it took us off guard)!
The road was very slow moving, due to the lack of passing lanes and huge slow trucks that held up the traffic. We suddenly missed Mexico’s easy passing system, and we were bummed that this “better road” (we were told) was long, pot-holed, stinky (trucks!), and slooooow!
It wasn’t long before we found we suddenly found ourselves around a bunch of big-name fast-food restaurants, on an important intersection between two important highways. Jared was elated to see a Taco Bell! Can you believe they don’t have Taco Bell in Mexico? They really don’t! Yes, it’s the land of tacos…but their tacos are nothing like North-of-the-border!
We enjoyed a quick run in, and I ordered a taco salad without meat, cheese, or sour cream. It didn’t come in the big fried shells/bowls like in the US, and I must have driven the lady at the register crazy with all of my changes to the menu item—but it was worth it!
Such a sharp contrast to some of the homes we had driven by!
We continued on North and landed in a small town where traffic abruptly came to a stand-still. We got out to see what the holdup was, and discovered that we had driven into the start of a small parade. It was Semana Santa, after all.
So, we got our first experience seeing the purple costumes that the men wear, as well as the white dresses that the girls wear. The boys walk separately from the girls. A local woman talked to me for awhile, and explained to me that the girls wearing white represent the Virgin Mary and the girls wearing blue represent Mary Magdalene (please, someone correct me if I’m wrong…I have a terrible memory!). She also explained that this was the children’s parade, and that the adults would do the same thing in the following days.
I’m not sure who was the spectacle…them, or the girls and me in a sea of black hair!
Anyhow…the parade ended, we loaded back up, and went on our merry way. Of course, not before following a truck loaded so full of men, I thought it might sink into the ground!
Our trek continued into the night, when the sun went down and we were still navigating small winding roads to our destination at Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. More on that next!