Give a Holla’ Guatemala

We’ve said goodbye to Belize and crossed the border into Guatemala. We’ve gone back and forth on this country. Originally we planned to spend a few weeks here. But in Mexico we heard reports that it was rapidly becoming unsafe so we decided to drive straight through (there is no way south without going through Guatemala, so no detours possible). Recently we’ve talked to some travelers who said it was fine. So now we’ve decided to feel it out as we go.  If the vibe is good we’ll explore, if not we’ll head to El Salvador. We think it’s going to be ok here. We heard crazy reports about how dangerous Mexico was, but with a little common sense and by following our intuition we were just fine. There is no doubt there are problems in these countries though.

So what is going on in Guatemala exactly? Where to start. Back in 1954 the good old USA, supporting the interest of big business such as United Fruit, orchestrated an invasion of Guatemala in one of the first documented covert CIA operations. Violence and oppression ensued fueling the formation of guerilla groups that led to a civil war that killed over 200,000 Guatemalans. Adding insult to injury, the US backed a crazy evangelical Christian, President Rios Montt. He initiated a “scorch earth” policy, burning 400 villages and killing 15,000 mayan men. (Thanks CIA. You rule).  Needless to say the country was bent after that war ended. There were other sick things going on as well. The CIA funded an experiment where we infected 696 Guatemalans with syphilis for “scientific research”. Seriously. Google it. It’s amazing to me that Guatemala allows Americans into the country today.

Today,  the drug war in Mexico is creating a new shit storm in a still recovering war-torn Guatemala. The Zetas are the most targeted Gulf cartel in Mexico’s war on drugs. They have migrated across the border to avoid the crack down from the military. They’ve started taking over areas in Guatemala and forcing locals to join their group. In December the Guatemalan government declared themselves a state under siege and they launched an offensive against the Zetas. And all this because the USA really likes to snort, shoot, and smoke drugs. We create an enormous demand having only 5% of the worlds population yet consuming 60% of the worlds illegal drugs. What a frikin mess. (I really need to get around to writing my drug war post).

You know, the more we travel the more we learn about the things they never teach you in 8th grade social studies. It’s really sad what our government has done, and what they continue to do today. When will it end?

Anyway, we’re here feeling it out. We’re being very safe. If things don’t feel good we’ll book it to El Salvador. One thing is for sure though. It’s starting to feel like we’re a long ways away from the USA. TREE

Stevie adds the flag of Guatemala onto the Sprinter. It’s getting colorful back there!

The Sprinter is not liking the roads of Central America so far (Father, everything is running smooth with the van though)…

How the hell do people get around when there isn’t one single road sign? I don’t even think this road is on the map babe! We lost!
Crossing over from Belize, we’ll visit the ruins at Tikal and then head to the town of Flores. From there we’ll work our way southwest towards El Salvador. Estimated time in Guatemala is 5-10 days. Although these countries are tiny, it can take a long time to drive anywhere. See photos above…


  1. Neil Nikirk says:

    If the Vibe feels good, you really should head up to Lake Atitlan and see the market in Chichicastenango. On your way through Honduras, see the ruins at Copan (if your aren't "ruined out" by now. Consider a side trip from La Ceiba out to the Cayos Cochinos for some dive and snorkel action. Try the Plantation Beach Resort out there or Bo's Island House on Guanaja which is closer to Roatan.


  2. mamatuyas says:

    Blessings. Love.

  3. The Calgary McLeans says:

    Tree and Stevie,

    We spent 2 MONTHS in Guatemala and only left because we thought we should probably see more than 3 countries in a year. If you ask our family, it was the best country on our trip. Perhaps things have changed in the past year, but truly this was the country that we felt the MOST safe in, the entire trip. We spent a good month in Antigua alone. We attended spanish classes here and they were amazing. We felt that the Guatemalan people were the friendliest and the most happy people we met.

    Obviously, play it by ear. If it doesn't feel right, move along. Don't be surprised though if you end up staying longer than you planned. By the way, if you get to Antigua, you are allowed to camp in the tourist police yard for free. There are bathrooms, showers and you can often talk the cops into letting you use their wireless internet for free.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Damn you guys are on the trip of a lifetime!

  5. Be safe you guys. And keep the posts coming!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Well I guess I will have to go to Belize without you guy's that's cool, anyway be safe keep it cool and have a wonderful journey.
    Brian T.

  7. Well buddy I am totally amused and reminded of my Costa Rican honeymoon. The dirt roads, mud and many many pot holes. Though it wasn't to bad till we got a bit further south of Daminical it was fucking torturous and scary at times. You can loos a wheel if you don't see one in time on the paved roads because of how deep they are. Pay attention but I guess I don't have to tell you that. River crossings are supper scary as well they were deep, hitting the side view mirrors a couple of times. We were there during rainy season. Lisa was freaked out. I'm envying your trip with every sprinter life post but don't think I could pull such a trip off. Have fun and heads up . Lorenzo over and out!

  8. YES bro! go for it. Viva Guatemala!!!

  9. You guys are so good at getting to the point and making it short and sweet and factual. Most people your age don’t get it? don’t care? think I’m full of it? We got to keep telling the truth (and reminding ourselves). (BTW, most people our age deny it as well :^( Keep blogging! Best, Joyce

  10. Derek Richardson says:

    Please tell me you didnt drive the whole way!!

  11. Alexis Schulman says:

    Guatemala needs to take a number on the long list of countries the CIA and America screwed with after WWII!! It is sad that after WWII the American government (Truman & Esienhower) were so afraid of another Hitler/Stalin, that it became hell bend on controlling other governments they deemed a threat. I am sure at the time it seemed like a good idea, WWI & WWII were probably pretty scary times. My hope is we keep changing and evolving by having more countries in becoming united like the UE and the UN. The best thing anyone in America can do is vote. It's also important, at least to me, is to remember that humans are animals. Animals can be cruel, jealous, vicious and they dominate other animals to be the alpha. They'll kill rival animals who they feel are a threat. Dolphins are one of the only mammals (other than us)that kill just to kill, not because of territory or women. (Saw it on the discovery channel-Flipper was an asshole!) It's barbaric, but true. The only thing that makes us different is our intelligence. Let's cross our fingers we elect smart people to office! When I see human on human violence, I am not shocked, I just realize they were less evolved.

  12. Anonymous says:

    say what you will, America is still the greatest country on earth

  13. Nationalism is the measles of mankind- Einstein

  14. Hey Neil, thanks so much for posting. We greatly appreciate travel tips from fellow travelers. So far we're loving Guat and are most likely going to get over to the Highlands…how can we not, right? It sounds like you've spent some time in Honduras too, which not many people have. Do you have an email that I can use to reach out to you about some Honduras questions we have?

  15. Hola Familia McLeans!! Well, your predictions are coming true: we are loving Guatemala and our 'scheduled time' here is already multiplying. Thanks SO much for the tip on parking at the Police station in Antigua. Full amenities, safe, and free….we love it!

  16. In case anyone is interested in further reading about Guatemala, here's a great link:

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