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Guatemala City to Antigua

Our layover in Los Angeles was just over five hours. That’s a long time to sit in uncomfortable chairs in a small terminal where almost everything was closed for the evening. At some point Brett and I talked about what time we thought we would be in Antigua in the morning. We were scheduled to land in Guatemala City around 6:00 in the morning. That’s probably early enough that traffic won’t be bad, we thought. It will take a little while to clear customs, especially with the verification of negative covid tests, etc. We’ll probably leave the airport by 7:00 and be in Antigua (20 miles away) by 7:45 or 8:00. Just in time for breakfast. We had it all figured out.

We were the first plane to land in Guatemala that morning. Immigration and Customs were completely devoid of passengers. Charmaine and I were the first people off the plane. We breezed through immigration and the covid health check and then waited for our bags to arrive in baggage claim. Brett and Jess stayed on the plane to gather their kids (who all sat in coach) before coming through, so we pulled their bags off the carousel 4 to make things go faster once they arrived. All of our bags had been checked as First Class, so they came out first. And I mean first. The first 10 bags to come through were ours and theirs. We pulled them off and stacked them against a wall. The drug dog came around and indicated (sat down) by one of Brett’s bags. The soldier running the dog asked me if I had food in the bag. I said I didn’t think so, but that we could open the bag and look. He seemed happy enough with my answer (and probably because I didn’t freak out) and went to investigate other travelers. At that point Brett and Jess came through and we headed through customs. That only took moments and we were on our way.

Outside the terminal it was about 7:15. That’s pretty close to what we thought it would be. Ruben picked us up in a large silver van. Some local airport guys helped load our luggage and then asked Brett for a tip. We had no money and couldn’t tip. Ruben paid them a few Quetzales from his own wallet and we headed out of the airport. Unfortunately, we had to travel away from Antigua for a while in order to turn around at a round about to head back the direction we needed to go. That’s just how the entrance to the airport was designed. And there was traffic. It was only 7:30, but traffic was cray, but we slowly made our way out of the city.

Even though it’s only 20-25 miles, we had been in the van for a couple hours and hadn’t hit Antigua yet. Traffic was getting worse as we descended the canyon toward Antigua. Eventually we were mostly just stopped. Ruben was surprised by it. He said it’s almost never bad in that location, but there we were. An ambulance passed us. We figured that was probably related to the traffic. Twenty minutes later an undercover cop and a second ambulance passed us. Our three lanes were merging down to one because of an accident somewhere down the canyon. Around a few more corners and we saw an overturned semi truck facing the wrong way. I’m not sure how that happened, but I suspect it rolled down the hill from the other side of the divided highway and just came to a stop on our side. It was smashed up pretty good and it’s possible the driver didn’t make it out.

After passing the accident there was no more traffic and we cruised the rest of the way into Antigua. I think it was about 10:00 when we arrived, but I wasn’t paying too much attention. My mouth was completely dry. I was probably dehydrated. I needed a drink. Delta’s lack of drinks had turned me into the equivalent of a very hangry man, but for thirst.

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