📓Entry #6 — Guatemala.… WE MADE IT!

Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour
Published in
6 min readDec 31, 2017


December 31, 2017

So that was eventful... coming here.. to a place that seemed so close, and ended up being so far.

Long story short — we had difficulties getting out of Nicaragua and heading north bound due to the Honduras Presidential elections. (see our video rant)

(Video to be inserted when more wifi is available……)

We’d been researching for days how to safely make our way to Guatemala. Flights cost an arm and a leg in addition to 27 hours of travel time (yaaa.. the flight would have taken us to El Salvador, then back to Costa Rica, then to Guatemala) so we found a safe bus service that was monitoring the situation in Honduras and left Managua Nicaragua at 3:00am each morning direct to Guatemala.

We booked our tickets, and hung out at a hostel. To save costs, since we were not really sleeping the night there… tried out a 10 person dorm room (my first time experiencing a bunk dorm). We stayed up till 11pm, then slept for the few hours and up by 2am to head out to the bus station. To my surprise, the 4 hour sleep in the dorm room went well, passed out and felt pretty bad about my alarm going off so early.. but Oli assured me that early morning wake up calls and disruptions are part of the cheap cost of a dorm. Anyway, we got to the bus station, and walk up to the guy to claim our tickets when he says “cancelado”…. turns out there was a protest on the the path and the bus was cancelled.. so we were pushed to the bus the next day.. and got the bus agent’s Whatsapp to confirm the trip was all good and on track..so we wouldn’t have to wake up stupid early again to learn of a cancellation. Now.. good thing we booked a hostel dorm.. because we went right back and had our bed waiting for us… since we didn’t need to hand in a key or check out. Now.. bad thing is we went back to sleep… but the 8 dudes in the room generated a weird rancid smell… and the snoring had to start at 4am when we got back to the beds when I was optimistically hoping to sleep for the rest of the night… 😭

We hung out in Managua one more day, had some McDonalds and prepared for our early morning again.. take 2. We watched this bizarre movie that one of the other backpackers decided to put on Netflix… a Spanish film where a women needs help watching her child and hires a Philippinno woman.. who turns out to be a brain washing, kid stealing mass murderer… and no. I don’t remember the name of it. [Edit.. the movie was called “Madre”]

At 10pm, we got confirmation from the bus agent that the bus was good to go at 3am, so we had a deja vu moment at got up at 2am again.. but this time the bus worked out and we were on the road!!

Now.. our trip was anything but easy. We were traveling up through Nicaragua, to reach Honduras and cross the boarder as quickly as possible to then pass El Salvador, to then reach Guatemala… yes.. all that was faster than the 27 hour flight option.

We slept through most of the drive.. until we reached the Honduras border, We had to get out and show our passports to get stamped and scan our fingers. Thing I learned… I have no thumb prints! I tried to scan my thumbs… and it wouldn’t work. The border agent was not impressed and grabbed my hands and started pushing my fingers down on the scanner really really hard. So hard.. I was losing circulation… he got super flustered and threw his hands in the air and started to cause a scene… so our bus driver came up to him and slipped the guy some $$.. and then it was ok for me to pass….

Oh did I mention that we were the only foreigners on the bus?!

After a firecracker went off just outside the border office and I gasped pretty loudly from shock. One of the bus passengers grabbed my should, and told me it was ok and tried to explain the excessive use of fire crackers over the holidays.

We got back on the bus and continued driving through Honduras.. a quick drive they said.. no problems they said.. well. After maybe 40 min on the road.. we approached a a blockade.. tires along the street blocking traffic and set on fire. Shortly after, big pick up trucks came in and army men with huge automatic guns rushed to the street to clear the protesters demonstration… our bus driver came to the cabin to announce that we had to wait on the side of the road until the situation had been cleared.

Three hours later…

Big guns, big shields and big trucks..big problems.

They moved the bus behind a semi-truck that was also blocked by the demonstration (I think it was intentional to hide the protest scene to avoid worrying anyone). The blockade had been removed and we were back on track. Now that we were behind schedule, the bus attendants told us we would have to stay the night in El Salvador… and cover the costs of our hotel, then get on another bus at 5am to get to Guatemala.

It took them two hours to elaborate that plan (bus not moving during that time). In the end, their suggested plan lasted 40 min.. after the majority of passengers encouraged the bus people to keep on driving. Which the bus company ended up agreeing too. The people on the bus were really protective of us… which was sweet. Translating and making sure we got through each border crossing ok as well as had a voice in the bus no-stop decision.

So we got some fancy fried chicken from a gas station, and drove on through El Salvador.. making it into Guatemala city at 3:30am.

This bus ride was supposed to be 15 hours… but turned out to be 25hr+. Surprisingly, our seats on the bus were very comfortable, the bathroom situation was sketchy... but between reading, sleeping and listening to Taylor Swifts new album (FINALLY!) the ride went by faster than I thought. I think I learned to chill about things like that from spending so much time in Nicaragua… Manãna (it is what it is), nothing we can do about the situation… so just let it go.

We were told being in Guatemala City at 3am isn’t the most safe to be walking around.. trying to find a hotel to stay since we missed our connection plans to Antigua. So we took a taxi with 6 other people (it was a 5 person car..) 3 blocks to the Holiday Inn.. and let me tell you.. I don’t know when the Holiday Inn got so fancy… but we got the NICEST beds ever… thats right.. two queens.. and had a HOT shower and got to FLUSH TOLIET PAPER for the first time in 2 months…. we got up to our room… passed out and woke up new people. I honestly think we changed.. or maybe just realized how much we appreciated those little things in life. 😊

So we made it to Guatemala! and took the next taxi to Antigua to visit the most magical place. More to come soon!!!

Travel tip: We learned that if you check into a hotel at 3am.. they can’t charge you for the current night… so they charge you for the following night with an early check in.. which means we technically got a two night stay at the holiday inn for the price of one! #allidoiswinnomatterwhat

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫



Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour

Hi! 🙋 I'm a tall, homeschooled, well traveled, terrible speller, who loves ice cream, building things and can be hilarious at times 👉 www.maeghansmulders.com