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Guatemala (part 3): visiting the German embassy

By on Tuesday June 12th, 2018

Prior to my trip I got several vaccinations. One of those was against Hepatitis A and B as recommended for travels in these regions. It’s necessary to refresh this vaccination after 6 months and this was already overdue when I was in Mexico. But despite waiting for several weeks in Puerto Escondido it was not able to get this there and so I decided to check with the consulate in Guatemala, which was my next destination back then, whether they could help with finding a doctor and getting the vaccine there. I received a list with suggested doctors in Guatemala City and an invitation from the consul to visit him in the German embassy when it would fit into my schedule. Of course I gratefully accepted this invite.

In the end I also didn’t succeed to get my vaccination in Guatemala, but that was not to blame on the consul. I’ve received it later on my journey, but I will probable write about that in one of my future reports. So, I actually don’t need to visit Guatemala City for medical purposes. In addition it’s also not the tourist hotspot and going there by bike is something many people I met along the road advised me not to do. So I decide to experience the ride with one of the suicidal chicken busses. I think that somehow rounds up a proper travel experience in Central America. In Guatemala there are not many official bus stops like we have them in Germany. You simply have to know their routes and then you wave at one when it approaches you. So, one day after I returned from my Acatenango hike I step into one of these former US school busses with tired legs and a queasy feeling. More and more people enter the bus while we wind through almost all cobble stone streets available in Antigua. Most passengers cross themselves several times when they enter, which makes perfect sense when you ever witnessed these busses rush past you.

In Guatemala City I have to use two more metro lines to reach the embassy. I’m the only tourist I can spot in the tube and since I’m constantly checking with the metro map and my phone to not miss the proper stop to change I’m also easy to identify as a stranger. An older couple is very helpful and walks almost the entire way between two stations where I need to change. Other than what I know from home, you sometimes have to walk several blocks to jump from one line to another. Finally I reach the embassy safely.

Before entering the embassy I have to convince a Guatemalan security officer to let me through. Which is difficult with my still limited Spanish, but I finally manage to pass the gate keeper. I have to lockup my phone and then I can walk through the security gate also known from airports. From here on I can continue in German. The officer at the reception guides me to the consul’s secretary. She informs me, that the consul is unfortunately ill that day but his deputy and someone from the media department were expecting me. I was not prepared for that and I’m especially concerned regarding my outfit if I would make it on an official press photo. My clothes look already a bit worn down after 8 months of traveling.
But the consul’s deputy calms me down, saying my appearance is absolutely fine for a world traveling cyclist like me. So, we take a photo in front of the flags of Guatemala, Germany and the EU. And since the consul’s deputy is from Berlin, which is my home for more than 8 years now, we also take a picture in front of the berlin bear statue which will installed on the plaza de Berlin in the near future.

In total I spend almost two hours in the embassy and enjoy talking to someone in German for a longer time. I learn a lot about the life and duties of a consul or his deputies and of course I also tell a lot about my travels, my experiences on road so far and what my plans look like. We also discuss the current situation in Nicaragua. At the time of my visit the turmoil in that country had just started. He has some general security advise to me and suggests to get in contact with the consulate there directly. Actually I could visit all consulates in the countries I ride through. The idea to invite myself to all German consuls along the way down to Argentina feels a bit obtrusive to me. It’s not that extraordinary what I’m doing to justify bothering all German consuls I could possible meet. But I definitely enjoyed visiting this consulate. Even though I was not successful with my attempt to refresh my vaccination I consider it a worthful trip to Guatemala’s capital. I do a quick stop in the old town before I take one of the last chicken busses leaving to Antigua.

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