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How I did it: I caught a flight from LAX to Mexico City and enjoyed a couple of days exploring the city. The architecture looked like old European. The food was great except for a Japanese restaurant I went to. Many of the taxis were old VW bugs with the front passanger seat removed. In a park, I needed to pee, so asked a park man, "Donde esta la bano," but he thought I wanted a bath, so said there weren't any. Then I pantomimed unzipping my fly and made a pssss sound. Now he understood and directed me to the "servisio." The next day I flew into Guatamala city and caught a bus from the airport to the city center. On the way, I saw overturned burning busses. A bad sign since I was in a bus. It seems a protest was going on and the people were rioting over a 100% increase in bus fare from 5 centavos to 10. Suddenly, everyone on the bus started putting handkerchiefs over their faces. I started to laugh but soon realized why. We were passing through a tear gas cloud fired by the police at the rioters. I started to choke and cry, then pulld out my bandana and covered my mouth and nose. Finally we reached the city center and I found a cheap hotel. After getting a room, I sat in the lobby for a while talking to a Savadoran, and gas started coming in the window, so once again the bandana came out. The next day, the air was clear and only chard busses remained, no more riot. I jumped on another bus and headed to the old capital of Antigua. It was a pleasant little town and the people were very friendly, especially the girls. I had a great lunch here, old country style food (I forget what it was. I just remember the black beans.) I bought some locally made crafts and headed back to the city. The next day was market day in Chichicastanango, a mountain village known for its large Indian market selling all kinds of hand made goods and produce that people bus, mule or hike in from the countryside to set up booths in the village square to sell once a week. I bought a few items, including a hand carved and painted mask of a jaguar (which they call el tigre). I spent the night in a small pension, but the electricity had been cut in the whole village, so the proprietor gave me a candle to walk to a quaint little restaurant for some more great food. The next day I took another bus packed with Indians and their live pigs and chickens to another mountain village called Panahachel on Lago de Atitlan. This is a very picturesque village with some very nice cheap guesthouses. I found a Chinese restaurant that was so-so, but there were other foreigners there from Sweden, Japan, Italy, England and US. We all sat together at a big table, a regular United Nations. The Italians suggested we all hire a boat to take us across the lake the next day to visit a village with no roads and no cars. The only way in was by boat. Being Italians, they gave the boat owner an offer he couldn't refuse, and we all split the cost. This village, at the base of Atitlan, a live volcano, was the real thing. The market here with its sights and smells lent itself for some good photos. The people were very friendly and as interested in us as much as we were them. I'm sure we looked like a strange crew. Back across the lake, a festival was going on, with primative manually operated rides for the kids and snacks like fresh roasted peanuts and corn. After that, we all enjoyed a few cervesas before heading to our guest houses. The next day, I headed back to the big city for a couple more nights, then back to Mexico City where I was forced to spend an extra night due to an airline strike. I couldn't get my direct flight back to LA, so flew into San Diego and connected from there. I'd really like to get back to Guatamala someday and see the half of the country I missed (maybe retrace some of my old trail too). Read how I did it… 2 years ago