This morning we are assessing our new situation. We are in ‘Lockdown’ in Guatemala. Even if we chose to make a dash for it there is no guarantee we would get back to NZ with more airlines closing down operations and border restrictions hardening. Realistically there are massive complications for us leaving. The possibility of losing the vehicle if we were unable to return before the car’s visa expired, is real.
If we were to leave, what I fear most is a possible spontaneous gesture from someone in a town we are stopped in to shop, or even while driving, where someone takes an action that could lead to mob hysteria. The President of Guatemala has virtually closed all business here. Supermarkets we drove past are closed and shuttered. As we drove yesterday people on the street would pull their shirts or blouse over their nose and mouth as if to stop us infecting them. The locals will blame us tourists for bringing this hardship on them. Actually, they are in far better shape to weather the closure than westerners, as I doubt many have heavy financial commitments and there is plenty of produce in the markets and street stalls
I have a backlog of work needed on Poki. The brakes started to fade yesterday coming down extremely steep mountains. I need to check the brake pads for wear. The engine oil needs changing along with oil and fuel filters. Gearbox and diff oil levels also need to be checked. The driveshaft needs greasing and the air filter changing etc. etc.
The camp owner has called a meeting of all campers at 4pm. He is very uptight and wanting to impose restrictions on us and insisting that some of us take some of the housing accommodation he has on site. It turns into an acrimonious meeting due to his demanding, inflexible attitude. A number of campers are very unhappy and decide to pack up in the morning and leave in a convoy. After much discussion, Sarah, Tim and we decide to join them. My fear was we could be ejected anyway by local authorities.
The camp site
Our campsite however, is spectacular and a prefect place for an extended stay. We are a couple of hundred meters up from a volcanic crater lake. There are several mountains on the opposite side of the lake. The scene from our camp is very similar to Queenstown. Being at 2300m, temperatures are cool, 24degC, and sunny during the day but dropping to low teens at night.
Our fellow ‘captives’ are from all around the world including a young Kiwi couple, Carl (originally from Palmerston North) & Renee from Christchurch, travelling in their GMC converted camper van. There are about 13 vehicles here, including Tim & Sarah in their camper.
Some good news at least, Carl mentioned that a friend of his had recently got through both Nicaragua and Costa Rica borders in their RHD vehicle. Maybe once the latest scare is over these countries will be less restrictive at the border in an effort to attract the tourist $.
A couple left the camp this morning prepared to make a dash for the closest Mexican border, which is about 200k’s from here. It seems Mexico have not had the same knee jerk reaction that Guatemala and others, have. That could change at any moment.