The ride to the bus terminal was not particuarly eventful. Rafael had told us about how Guate has terrible traffic, but we’d not really noticed it. There were a few occasions when drivers pulled off death defying moves of pulling out in front of trucks and hoping they’d stop, and the horrific exhaust fumes continued. We’re not sure why, maybe there are lower standards, but vehicles in Guatemala produce some very strong emissions that make the air quality terrible, making Mexico City’s air seem clean in comparison.
We got to the bus terminal 5 minutes before the next bus to Cobán and Peter went off to buy tickets while I set about getting the bikes in the luggage compartment. They were normal coaches rather than the type where we’d have got to throw our bikes up on to the roof and had them strapped on along with all manner of other things. We showed our tickets and nothing was mentioned of a luggage fee which I’d read we could be charged. Nothing that is until 4 hours later when we were getting ready to get off and the ticket guy on the bus was asking us for our luggage tickets. It was the same guy who had helped me load the bikes on the bus, and we are certain he was just trying to fleece us for money. When Peter had bought the bus tickets, he had even been sat on his bike, and the person selling the tickets had mentioned nothing about a luggage fee – even when Peter asked specifically. The fact that the ticket guy was asking us just before we got off, rather than before we got on or shortly after, made it certain to me. I got in a long argument with him about how there was no way I was paying anything else. He made actions to look like he was trying to call back to the ticket office, but pretended to have no signal. As I was reading a wikipedia article on my Kindle (using the phone signal) I could tell even further that he was making it up. The guy relented when he realised that we weren’t the kind of tourists who fall for things like that.
We had a couchsurfing hostess in Cobán, Erica, the mum of a guy called Damian who lived in Guate that I’d called up a couple of days earlier. When we met her, she immediately fed us and then took us on a brief tour of town. She was a lovely lady, and reminded me of my mum in a few ways, including that they’re both nurses. As Peter had some issues with his toenail wanting to fall off, she took to making a home remedy involving garlic that he could apply 3 times a day to help it heal.
We went to the supermarket to buy some bread, and were walking out of the car park back to her house when one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen happened. There was a line of six cars waiting to go through the gate, I’m not sure if they actually had to pay the guard, but the fifth guy, who was on a motorbike, decided that he didn’t want to wait and so pulled out and sped off round the other cars. As I’ve mentioned, Guatemala is full of security guards with shotguns, and this was no exception. The guard pulled his shotgun out, cocked it, and shouted at the guy to stop. The motorbiker ignored him and flew off. I was half expecting the trigger to get pulled on the shotgun, but am glad to say it didn’t. Erica didn’t seem to take much notice, but myself and Peter were both shocked and confused.