Guatemala safety concern
Hi, I'm considering a trip back to Mexico but this time I'm thinking of doing the gulf side and checking out Belize and Guatemala I ordered maps and a lonely planet book for Guatemala and it seems to only be up to date to 2003.And it seems back then it wasn't all that safe???????
My ? is should I be concerned for my safety ( I maybe doing this trip alone ) ?? What do I need to know ?
BTW > My trip to mexico ( March / april 07 ) was great and the people where very friendly.
Spent 3 months in Guat. no problem.
There is a resent thread in "Travellers' Advisories, Safety and Security on the Road" concerning safety in Guatemala.
We crossed from Belize into the North and road a bunch of the country without any issues. Friendly people all along the way (though we made sure we were in a town or at least accommodation before nightfall).
That said, our friends worked for the UN in Xela for a couple of years and now work in the capital and they told us a whole host of horror stories...especially about the capital.
If you need some more info, don't hesitate to PM me.
As mentioned make sure you do not travel at night - even on public transport or minivans - especially heading South from Tikal or around Chichicastenango area.
I spent a year working Mexico and CA - driving DF to Panama City and Back (6 times!) and had no problems.
make sure you get out to Caye Caulker in Belize, for a great place to chill- these guys run great tours and have nice accomodation.
Avoid Guatemala City
Hi, I rode thru Guatemala last year on the way south to Tierra del Fuego (blog at www.simongandolfi.com). A Guatemalan friend from Rio Dulce insisted on collecting me in his pickup at Antigua as he believed riding through Guatemala City was too dangerous for an old man on a small bike. Police reported 2,600 armed attacks on city busses in the first six months of '06. Two Guatemalan friends rode with me from the Rio all over the Peten - great. And I had already ridden down to the Pacific coast and over the volcano to Atiitilan. I left on the road to Copan in Honduras. No problems - everyone friendly. However travelling by night would be very foolish. Holdups and cars riddled with bullets feature almost daily on the front pages of local newsppers. Much of the violence is gang related. Have fun and take care...
road down the middle of guat from tikal 2 years ago by myself. beautiful ride. i also rode thru guat city....twice. shithole.
seemed safe enough (apart from guat city)....just dont ride at night, dont look like a stupid tourist, keep your stuff safely stowed away.....the usual precautions. i was off the beaten path a bit so i cant say "stick to the main highways" b/c i didnt and i was fine.
and as always....ride safe
I've driven all over CA, at all times of the day and have never ever had any problems, while the vehicle was moving. As soon as you stop, it's always a good thing to check mirros and people who are moving towards you, especially at night.
During 7 years here, I've had 2 roadincidents where I've drawn my gun.
Both at night, in Managua, where I live so obviously that is where I would get in trouble. Main highways are "safe", and if we count the possibilty of beeing hit by other vehicles I'd say night driving is as safe as day driving safe since there are less driver during night. This is NOT valid during weekends as driving and drinking is a well practiced combination.
This is if you drive a car and have a cellphone, by bike you get into trouble for hitting a medium sized dog and it might take until sun-up for someone to help you....
All in all, the biggest risk of anything happening to you would be crashes.
No respect for bikers since they overtake sometimes even though they've seen you. Especially truck drivers, who on long straight seem to think that bikers can do with 1 m of space...
Tip, if you're following a vehicle, ALWAYS stay in the path of their tires.
If you follow behind, in the center and someting is on the road, you will hit it if you're close to the car.....ask me I've done it and almost fell with a semi-trailer 5 meters behind me.....
Keep your eyes open, in the cities try to position your bike so you always can take of if you feel something isn't right. If you do get robbed, especially in San Salvador or Guatemala city, stay really cool and co-operate.
A friend of mine was killed in Guatemala while car-jacked and he probably did some jerky movement or said something that wasn't appreciated. So, cool, no challenging eye contact, no smiles and no jerky movements if you do run into some tough guys. They DO kill for whatever reason in the above mentioned countries. I'd recommend knowing where you're going while in big cities. Gangs can kill for sports.
Honduras, a little more relaxed but still not supersafe and Nicaragua beeing the best place for not getting killed over some silly stuff. Here you can usually tell robbers from ordinary people because of their looks. These are the novice robbers or drug addicts. Tip 2, try not to stop at traffic lights (at night).....well, what I mean is if you see that the lights are going to switch, reduce speed early to roll slowly and sometimes don't stop at all.
If you really fell unsafe, cops probably wont bother stopping you at night, and if they do, not feeling safe can be a valid argument.
The tough guys are in the cities, and in smaller villages the only trouble would be drunk guys who need to compensate something. That would be an ordinary fight that might end as a robbery if you loose.
Americans are in some circles, in Nic, not appreciated. So if you are american, small villages and sandinistas might not be a good mix.
Well, that's my 2 cents and I hope it serves someone.
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