We’ve been here for almost two weeks, and we’re all loving one another and the program so far, despite some frustrations and challenges, which is to be expected. One thing is for sure though, we walk everywhere (within the city of Xela that is), and with that, there is an art to walking along the streets here.
Here are some things to take into account when walking the streets:
1) Cars DO NOT stop for pedestrians (usually)
2) Stops signs are optional
3) Honks are just the drivers telling you that they’re next to you; you will also be notified by a vehicle’s presence by its overwhelming exhaust fumes
4) Sidewalks are narrow (walking side-by-side with a friend is usually a lost cause), and usually uneven, sometimes changing in height by the foot
5) Watch out for dog shit (the world is a dog’s restroom here)
Walking here becomes an acquired skill; you begin to keep your wits about you and can sense when a car is next to you. It’s not taboo to step off the sidewalk and walk on the street, just be aware that cars may be within inches of you. Our first day in Guatemala City, I had a 53′ tractor trailer pass by within a foot from me (quite a frightening experience). Also, that rule that you learned in kindergarten–look left, right, and left again before crossing the street–is absolutely necessary here. You never know when a car will be turning around the corner. And with that, I believe I’ve covered all the basics of walking along the streets in Guatemala, so go out there, and good luck!