So there we go, that is the Guatemalan section of my expedition completed (or will be tomorrow when I walk the 100m or so to the border.) I have loved Guatemala and am shocked how quickly it all just flashed by. It really brings to the fore one of my biggest challenges which is trying to remain focussed on what it is that I am doing. I am an adventure runner not a tourist or a traveller. If money, time and small things like growing up weren’t all factors then I would have loved to have given Guatemala (and Canada, the US and Mexico for that matter) much more time. But Guatemala is different. In the US and Mexico I was there for months and got to see and experience so much. In Guatemala I ran the most direct route possible and missed so much. Friends messaged me asking if I have visited somewhere or done something and I had to admit that the restraints of my expedition didn’t allow for that. But all is not lost because I still think the positives outweigh the negatives and here is my rationale:
I may not have seen everything but the great thing about being so restricted by the parameters of my expedition is that I get to witness so much stuff that no one who had a plan would do if they were coming here for a week’s holiday. I was not on a mad rush to tick off sites and tours but on an adventure that has no planning or strict itinerary. I stayed in towns where I was the only tourist, I went places that I am pretty sure tourists are advised not to go and I loved it.
I may not have seen the “best sites” of Guatemala but I got to see a real Guatemala with no sugar coating or dilution from lots of other tourists. I went to crazy markets where the focus wasn’t selling gifts to visitors but was selling essentials to locals. I got to see local farmers dressed up in traditional clothing protesting against a government they obviously didn’t feel represented them. I stayed in basic hotels where tradesmen stayed when working away from home.
I got to meet so many fantastic Guatemalan people. People who were kind, caring and eager to help. I don’t think I have ever taken so many group selfies in such a short space of time. And the generosity was awesome. I have been given money, water, food, presents and places to stay.
Finally, I can always come back and when I come back I will hopefully be with someone who I can share all the niceties of being a traveller or tourist and we can enjoy those memories together.
So all that is left to say is THANK YOU Guatemala. You have been a great host and I can’t wait to come back and delve a little deeper into everything you have to offer!