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Bad driving

Monday, October 9th 2000

All our travel up until now had been on local buses. Foreign Office advice for Guatemala said that its bus system was particularly bad. We were also not too keen on negotiating our way across Guatemala City, about which we'd heard more horror stories than Managua. So when we discovered that you can get a minibus all the way from Copán to Antigua in Guatemala, our next destination, we decided that we would cop out and take it. It's a service used solely by tourists, and I felt like a cheat as we got aboard. We crossed the border at a very quiet border post, and no-one tried to rip us off. It was boring. But we thought it was probably a safer and more sensible option that the five-leg journey we would have had if we had got the local buses.

We had a fantastic journey through wild mountainous Guatemalan scenery, and after a few hours we reached Guatemala City. It looked grim, traffic-choked and polluted. As we crossed the city, we were hit by a bus, which rear-ended us at some traffic lights. It was a low-speed impact, so no-one was hurt, though it took some time to get my backpack out from the crumpled boot.

Our driver got out to discuss things with the other driver, and I thought that punches might be thrown, but fortunately everything was calm and sensible. After a short discussion we drove on to a petrol station nearby, taking the conductor of the bus that had hit us along with us. I wasn't sure why this was - perhaps the minibus firm were keeping him as security? We then stopped and waited for a replacement minibus to arrive. When it came it had three armed guards with it, but we completed the final leg of the journey safely. We arrived in Antigua late that evening.

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