The shuttle finally arrived and what a difference! Older shuttle bus, thin bench seats, and no shocks! We were in the very back and we felt every "tope" (speed bump) on the journey. Also, the journey took us through the highlands of Guatemala (mountain roads with switch backs) and they don't have passing lanes.. but that didn't stop the driver from zooming along, passing on blind corners and some he couldn't quite make so that meant slamming on the breaks to then slide back in behind the truck he was trying to pass. It was like he thought he was an Indy 500 driver or something. I settled in to the drive eventually, tried to take pictures out the dirty window (but not that successful as we were flying past everything and I needed to hold on for the curves). The countryside really is beautiful up in the mountains.. not a whole lot of nature left as there seems to be homes and farming even on the most steep mountain slope, but still there is something striking about being up in the mountains.
We stopped at a gas station in Xela to rendez-vous with another shuttle to exchange people (some getting off in Xela, some continuing on to Panajachel or Antigua - our bus). Now, I'm getting really tired of the ride..( someone asked how long until Antigua.. and the driver said "no se", I don't know....!). The boys are still going strong but also starting to ask more frequently "how much longer", and Eric is enjoying the adventure. Then, the sky gets darker, and darker and then a heavy downpour.. gushing.. torrential.. big time rain! So, now the curves in the road and the passing gets a bit more anxiety provoking.. good thing I was at the very back and couldn't really see anyways, but I was thinking of the passengers in the front where they had to witness it all! I did have a few thoughts of news flashes hitting home "tourist shuttle with 4 Canadians in deadly crash in Guatemalan highlands", but I looked at the boys innocently oblivious to it all and just had to smile about the whole situation.
We had to switch shuttles in Panajachel in the pouring rain. The shuttle driver was nice though and arranged to rendez-vous with the next shuttle bus under the protection of the gas station overhang. We had to get out of the shuttle, get our gear (which did get quite wet up on the roof rack), then squeeze into the last remaining seats of the other shuttle (the people weren't that happy to learn they had to share the seats). Dark, dark skies, lightening, gutters overflowing, the inside of the shuttle windows fogging up (and I saw the passengers in the front help wipe the front windshield so the driver could see!). Then still 3 more hours to go to get to Antigua! Aghhh.. no choice but to endure it (I did feel bad for the driver.. I was thankful I didn't have to do the driving). The kids were passed out on my lap, my back was sore, and we were worried about how soaked our stuff had gotten. But, it was the best feeling in the world when I recognized the cobbled streets of Antigua (shuttle with no shocks!) and knew we were there! And in the end (14 hours later), of course, we made it to our hostel (the place we had stayed at before in Antigua, so it was like going home.. comforts of a familiar place) and everything and everyone was good. (our bags were a bit damp on the inside but nothing too major). Then just like that, the next day came and off we merrily went to roam Antigua. Crazy, long, shuttle ride forgotten about.. moving on.
Now, to embark on another leg of our Central American journey.. onward to El Salvador. We leave tomorrow on a 8am shuttle to La Tunca, El Salvador (surfer beach spot).. this time it should only be a 6 hour journey, not 14!