Guatemala is an appealing country for first-time backpackers as well as seasoned travelers and we’ve fell in love with it from the first time we set foot on its soil.
The country has a lot of natural beauty and culture to discover, but there are also a few things to consider before visiting this Central American destination.
You can drive like a mad man!
Some drivers will give you the idea that they are completely bananas! More then once we were on a bus, in a cab or even in a tuc-tuc where the chauffeur ignored happily every traffic rule ever written.
While speeding through some very nasty turns, you can see a golden cross with a motion-sick Jesus sweeping heavily from right to left. Who needs road etiquette when you are protected by the lord?
It is the home to many Mayan ruins
Mayan ruins can be found everywhere over the country. The ones you should definitely know about are Tikal, Yaxha and Uaxactun.
Tikal is far out the most popular site of them all. It is a Unesco world heritage site and it is used as a film location in Star Wars episode IV: a new hope. The downside of its popularity is that it can be packed with tourists.
Toilet paper goes in the bin, not in the toilet
On a trip to a country which doesn’t have the best plumbing system in the world, it can come as a surprise that you’re not allowed to throw your toilet paper in the toilet. Instead, you just put it in the bin provided next to the it. At first, this can be a bit weird but you’ll get used to it pretty fast. And it is a good habit to keep when you’re traveling to other countries in Central- and South America as well.
You will see a lot of dogs and cats on the streets
Walking around in Guatemala you will see a lot of dogs running around freely. It doesn’t have to be a problem. Most of them are pretty sweet or don’t pay you any attention at all. You will see a lot of, sometimes skinny and scruffy looking, cats running around the streets too.
In short, you will see a lot of stray animals and a lot of them will not look healthy nor happy. There might be a void in education or a lack of respect for animals, but the biggest issue is there just isn’t enough money to spend on the care of animals.