The purpose of this report is not to wow you with the beauty of Guatemala City or to show you how cultured I am. Rather, it is simply a reminder that international news can be deceiving and Guatemala felt very inviting and very safe to me. My 24 hours in Guatemala City was quite pedestrian, but quite satisfying.
24 Hours In Guatemala City
Anyone who knows Guatemala City well or has been there recently knows what a lovely and charming place it. Sure, it has its rough edges, but so does Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. But when I told people I was going to Guatemala City or often when you read about it or hear about it in the news, a picture is drawn of a destitute place in which folks are fleeing as fast as their legs will carry them up toward Mexico and the USA.
There are indeed many who would love to come to the USA, but set aside your assumptions about Guatemala City (and frankly every major city in Central America).
I already reviewed a couple of great coffee shops in Guatemala City but now I’ll tell you about my day.
Before the sun rose, I was up working…churning out blog posts and dealing with Award Expert issues. Then I hit the gym and followed that with an early 10:00am breakfast (I do intermittent fasting at home, but forget it on the road…I love breakfast too much).
After breakfast I did a bit more work…the bills must be paid.
Finally around midday I was finished and headed out to find coffee. You can read about that here.
Sometimes when we travel we forget the most inconvenient things. This time, I forgot my belt and my pants were literally falling down. I need a whole new wardrobe, but despite all the airline food I’ve managed to lose weight this year and my pants don’t fit me…
So my afternoon goal was looking for a belt. My search took me, by foot, to the Oakland Mall, which was a fairly fancy mall in the heart of the city.
I went into a couple of department stores, but ended up buying the belt at Zara. One thing I noticed is that prices were high…not sure if there is higher taxes or import duties or prices are simply higher due to less competition, but it was a 25EUR belt in Europe and nearly double the price here.
Confession: when I saw the Taco Bell in the mall food court, I stopped for a snack…just a cheese quesadilla (regular readers know I avoid fast food unless it is Taco Bell or In-N-Out, my two weaknesses). It actually tasted different than in the USA–a different type of cheese and jalapeño sauce.
I tried to catch an Uber to the hotel but while waiting it dropped my iPhone battery from 70% to 19% in five minutes…scary. Then the driver canceled, so I walked back (I replaced the phone by the way, there was indeed a battery issue).
After working a bit more, I went out for dinner to a nice place called Polanco. The filet, served sizzling, was so, so good along with grilled onions and peppers plus guacamole. Truly, a perfect dinner. Sad that I didn’t try something more local? Sure. But where can you get a $13 steak of this quality in the United States? Not even in the grocery store…
And then churros…
And that was my day. Boring, wasn’t it? But I bet it paints a different picture of Guatemala City, doesn’t it? Granted, I was in one of the wealthiest zones of town…the Beverly Hills of Guatemala City. But you see the pictures. There was no poverty I saw (I would see that on the way to Antigua the following day). No one was begging. No gangs roaming the streets. It was just a nice city with reasonable pricing and great food and drink.
Coffee, shopping mall, Taco Bell, and steak? What a missed opportunity, you might say. Indeed, there was a lot I missed. But considering it was a business trip, I had work to do, and only had limited time, I’m happy for what I saw. I admire the people who can visit all the museums and monuments and still get their work done and not feel so stressed or rushed, but that’s not me. But that’s okay: now I have something to return for.
This is part of my Guatemala trip report.