Before crossing pastures look for bulls
Always ask if possible about dangerous bulls if you are hiking near cattle.
If you are in cattle country you may happen to cross paths with a brahman type bull. This means in the Peten and the lowlands- especially the plains sloping towards the Pacific. If the bull isn't paying you any heed that is a good thing. First rule is not to run or scream if you cross paths with one. Bulls can easily outrun a person. Stay still and quiet. Look for an escape route (a tree, a fence). Eventually you'll be able to move away or past it. However if it shows signs of challenging you-- remove a garment such as your shirt, slowly. Bulls instinctively charge toward movement. If he charges, throw the garment away from you and he'll charge the shirt. (a small rock or weight will help add distance) While he's distracted with the shirt, move away (yes, you should run). Once you put some ground between him and you, he will lose interest.
PS: The color of the garment doesn't matter. They don't have color vision. Don't forget that cows have horns also. Look for an udder to verify whether you are facing a bull or just a cow.
HUMAN BOTFLY (Beef Worm)
Bot Flies are picked up in rural areas characterized by grassland, pasture, and cattle. The normal host for a bot fly is a cow. Humans are a delicacy.
Botfly eggs are commonly transported and deposited while you are asleep by mosquitoes, spiders etc. The Larvae (or "warbles" in English) painlessly burrow through broken skin- such as a mosquito bite. The Larvae secure themselves with two "tail" hooks as well by the rough ridges encircling the body (see photo)
The first symptom is intense itching. You'll feel something solid under the skin and soon see a bump with a tiny hole on the skin- this is the punctum through which the larva breathes and discharges waste. Its contractions cause the third symptom- episodes of VERY EXTREME PAIN lasting ten minutes several times a day. Hot compresses and massaging will not help. If you do nothing, in two months the bump will grow much bigger, the larva will emerge, drop off and begin its pupa state of development.
WHAT TO DO
Consult a doctor.
The punctum is the botfly's weak point. Without air, it will die. You can kill it by blocking the hole with epoxy or glue. Tape does not work. Some suggest Vaseline. Wait 12 hours. It can then be removed by manipulation of the muscle.
A comment has been left on my Guatemala Page describing how hydrogen peroxide can be squirted from a syringe into the breathing hole. The author says that the larva will quickly eject itself.
VERY IMPORTANT: NEVER TRY TO FORCE THE LARVA OUT WHILE IT IS ALIVE- NEVER DO THIS!
(Search "worm in stomach" on YouTube to see how NOT to remove this parasite)
Heat may force the larva to stick out its head- but trying to grab it with tweezers with the idea of pulling it out will fail.
The Larva must be dead for safe removal.
After removal, store it in a glass vial with some alcohol to impress and gross out your friends.
What a change a new administration makes. The US EMBASSY PAGE for Guatemala is well designed and easy to navigate. Someone has done some deep down cleaning- it shows and you should take a look. Links galore for emergencies, non-emergencies, citizen services, medical, travel warnings, sending money, residency transportation and more.
Widespread and Repeated Warnings about going to the overlook to enjoy the panorama of Antigua Guatemala and the majestic spectacle of Volcan Agua should not be ignored.
BUT DO GO.
But go during the day and better if you have company. You can also use the Tourist Office facing the Central Jardin Plaza to be escorted (their schedule not yours)
Make sure you are not being followed.
If you are still uncertain about going.... plan your vist in the morning--- Sunday morning is extra safe.
Demonstrations vary in size and composition. Spontaneous demonstrations should be avoided.
Altogether different are the organized demonstrations with shouted slogans, banners and loud speakers. (See photos added to this tip) Many are held at the Congress Building (9th Avenida) near the National Palace or downtown near the Bank of Guatemala/Municipal Complex. The mood is generally light. Defiance is generally expressed by masked spray painters who are ignored by the police. (It's easier just to repaint the walls a day later).
This photo (see web address below for write up) shows a demonstration (Feb 10 2005) opposed to CAFTA and GM crops because Guatemalan farmers cannot compete against US subsidized corn and beans- genetically modified or not.
The man on the left is labor leader and human rights activist Nery Barrios- director of UASP and the speaker to his right is a member of Congress- well known in Guatemala but I don't remember her name.
Guatemala accounts for 40% of all reported cases of malaria in Central America. Guatemala last reported 18,102 cases of malaria (July 2005). The most effected provinces are the highland provinces of Quiche and Alta Verapaz.
Fortunately, malaria in Guatemala is not a virulent form of the disease.
Symptoms include fever, severe headaches, and possibly vomiting.
Tourists going to Tikal in El Peten should use mosquito spray and wear light colored clothing to protect skin from bites. Mosquito nets are not widely available- but if you have one or can find one use it - why let the buzzing keep you awake.
Local sources will tell you if cases of malaria have been reported. Local drug stores (farmacias) will carry anti-malarials used in your area. You do not need a prescription.
Guatemala ranks second globally for death either by malnutrition or alcohol, fourth globally for death by violence and sixth globally for death by drugs. Don't be afraid but don't be foolhardy. If every male in sight sports a tattoo you are probably in the wrong place. However, on the truly amazing side, Guatemala ranks 175th for death by auto.
LISTED IN ORDER OF DEATH FOR GUATEMALA
2): Heart attack
3) Violence- (Guatemala ranks FOURTH globally)
6) Liver Disease - Guatemala ranks ELEVENTH globally
8) Malnutrition - Guatemala ranks SECOND globally
9) Injuries (auto and falls not included)
10) Kidney failure
14) Breast CANCER (Guatemala ranks 74 globally)
15) Peptic Ulcer Disease (Guatemala ranks FOURTH globally)
16) Lung Disease
17) Alcohol -Guatemala ranks SECOND globally
18) Maternal complications
19) Prostate Cancer (63rd globally)
20) Birth Trauma
21) Low Birth Weight
22) Drug Use (Guatemala ranks SIXTH globally)
23) CANCER Guatemala ranks 64th globally
Amazing to anyone who has driven in Guatemala but for DEATH BY AUTO ACCIDENT Guatemala ranks 175th GLOABALLY!!
Finally, half the population is under 17.
This is the title of an excellently researched and clearly written report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in May of 2007. The report analyzes criminal activity in Central America, how it grows, what nourishes it and why it is so difficult to control.
The footnotes alone are worth the read- especially for anyone who has commercial interests in the region.
PDF DOWNLOAD 2 MB
More recent are reports by the UN and AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL (www.amnesty.org) about continuing human rights crimes against women and indigenous populations.
There are sporadic reports (it's hard to say if the same event isn't the source for multiple reports) of customers drawing out money and being followed.
In one case, (obviously well organized) motorbikes or scooters were used to force a car to pull over.
In another case, three cars were used. One to identify the victim leaving his home and getting into his car, another to block the victim's car and a third to pull the victim out and into the escape car. Obviously, no figures are available regarding kidnapping and ransom-
People on business in Guatemala will find that danger doesn't match many other places in the world but it's definitely not risk free. Guatemala does not have a trained police force and the courts take years - if ever- to settle cases. Hiring private security is the only option.
Guatemala has a police force (PNC) of 20,000.
Private security guards number over 40,000. (nationally private guards number several hundred thousand- much larger than the poorly trained (other than some elite forces) soldiers of the government.
The PNC are notoriously ineffective. Even President Colom in December of 2008 publicly criticized them as useless.
We were told that people have been robbed, raped and killed at the cross lookout. This cross lookout offers the most amazing view of Antigua. You can see the cross from everywhere in Antigua so one day we decided to walk up to it. We walked up the beautiful path and were awarded with the most wonderful view. We noticed there were two guards there. Later when we told our B&B owner she told us we shouldn't have gone up there. Other people informed us that it was a hot spot for muggings, etc.
Although it seems a fairly safe place and there are lots of foreigners here, we were warned on our trip to stay away from certain places -
Cerro de Cruz, a local hill where you can take in the panaroma, we were told to register with the tourist police beforehand so you can be accompanied. There have been reports of theft .
We were also told to be careful around the bus station.
I walked round the city centre on my own during the day and had no hassle at all. Be friendly and polite with beggars and they will leave you alone.
I would not advise walking along after dark.There were a lot of police around the main square but the side streets were very quiet.
at nighttime you must consider stay close to the airport and do not go by yourself to unsafe downtown area.
reserve in a hotel in advantage and they will pick up you at the airport.
hostals los volcanes, dos lunas, tel334-5264 and hermano pedro, see hotels, are 5 minutes away.
i read plenty of information warning not to walk alone, i did it, not becuse i wanted but due to the confusion of the city and the expensed taxis i had to walk until i realized the buses were cheap and I starts undertand the city streets, but at first looks scary, specially at zone 1and 4
Travel and living in Guatemala is dangerous for Guatemalans and tourists. There is a residual level of violence from 16 years of civil and not so civil war that must be considered. This includes more than simple theft or pick pocketing. Guidebooks and consulates tend to advise traveling in groups, using regular tourist transportation and avoiding cheap hotels, but I have my doubts. (They also tend to use every incident of the last ten years to boaster their warnings so the picture they draw may be worst than the actual situation.) Even in Guatemala in recent years where city buses have been stopped and women raped by armed gangs, I felt safer traveling with local transportation, staying in cheap accommodations and going on my own rather than I would have felt being in a group of obviously rich folk. My fluency in Spanish also helped me identify and avoid higher risk situations.
Being a women would naturally increase the risks, but guns in the hands of bad guys naturally put everyone at risk of death or injury. Putting this in prospective, I would still think the greater risk of injury would be from a highway accident an issue often overlooked by potential travelers considering a trip to Guatemala.
The question with travel is often one of weighing the risks to benefits. I personally found the richness of Guatemalan travel well worth the risks. I believe people can make this trip, but they must use their common sense and caution to limit the risks.
Market villages in the highlands of Guatemala such as Chicasantengo, and Santiago Atitlan are interesting and fun to explore, you can find Mayan knittings, pottery and wood carvings, along with many other interesting items. Walking around here like a tourist, with your camera exposed to the locals, you will be bothered to buy just about everything, and there are individuals trying to show you around and be your local tour guide for a few dollars. I feel sorry for these very poor people, but you can only go so far with it. I bought a Mayan calendar knitwork, and the woman gave me stories about how her mother was starving, and I should buy 2-3 more to feed her. I bought another cheap one, after more begging, told her sorry, and walked away to have lunch with my tour group, after an hour or so later, there she was again with more knitworks in hand saying "please, I need money for lunch, you my friend.
She followed me all the way to the bus, as we were leaving, and I gave her a few Guatemalan Quetzals to finally get rid of her. You can get pickpocketed here too. Buy if you want, but make minimal verbal and eye contact with the locals is my tip.
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