Our Central America tour (24): conclusion

Our return home on Friday started with the alam going at 5 am in our hotel room in Guatemala City. As with our outward journey, both flights were with American Airways. The first leg – the flight to Dallas/Fort Worth in a Boeing 737-800 – went smoothly with a flight of just over three hours. The second leg was not as straightforward because our aircraft for London – a Boeing 777-200 – had “a mechanical fault” and then we were stacked above Heathrow, so we arrived two hours late after a flight of eight and half hours.

The basic facts of our grand tour of of the isthmus of Central America are that, in three weeks, we visited five countries and, in the process, took five flights and stayed in no less than 14 hotels (a record for us, exceeding even last year’s round the world trip). According to our second guide Sandra, our whole trip had taken us across some 3,000 kms (or almost 2,000 miles).

This tour takes Roger’s total of countries visited to 65 – one for each year of his life. How long can he keep this up (as the actress said to the bishop)? In fact, our group was full of exceedingly seasoned travellers and two had been to around 120 countries.

Central America is still very much a developing region so our accommodation was often fairly basic and toilet paper usually had to be deposited in a bin rather than the toilet bowl. The food was good but somewhat repetitious and desserts were in short supply. Service was always very friendly and always very slow.

Little use of credit cards or local currency was necessary because we were able to use American dollars everywhere. This was immensely convenient, but it meant that – especially at the beginning of the trip – we were carrying lots of cash.

In spite of the reputation of the region, none of us had any problems of security and we always felt safe but, of course, we were on an organised tour and we were only in tourist locations. If these countries can improve their image, then there is a lot of scope for much more tourism. The one problem that many of us did have was an upset stomach from time to time which is more or less inevitable when travelling in developing countries. Roger was one of the victims (Imodium was a quick relief) but, as usual, Vee’s cast iron constitution spared her any such experience.

It was a wonderfully varied holiday with colourful birds and indigenous peoples, dramatic volcanoes and lakes, old colonial cities and even older Maya ruins. Not to mention, beans and rice, rice and beans. So it is difficult to pick out highlights of such an exciting holiday, but major candidates would be the zip wire experience in Costa Rica, the island of Ometepe in Nicaragua, the civil war museum in El Salvador, the Maya ruins of Copan in Honduras, and the Maya temples of Tikal in Guatemala. Yet each day was so different that it was almost an assault on the senses and sensibilities. We have lots of wonderful memories and some 700 photographs to give them colour.

We were very fortunate with the weather which was generally glorious. By dramatic contrast, the rainfall in January across southern England – where we live – was unprecedented in records stretching back to 1766. So, as well as having a terrific holiday, we missed a miserable deluge at home.


  • Nadine Wiseman

    Glad to have you back safe in the UK. I believe the weather there is about to improve so you’ve timed it well.



  • David Eden

    Now, we’ll wait for a wave of revolts to take place in Central America, as has happened in many of the places you’ve visited before, notably Syria!

    Glad you enjoyed the trip.

  • Roger Darlington

    Hi, Nadine.
    The sun is indeed shining today and all the washing from our trip is on the line in the garden drying nicely. Brilliant timing!
    But more rain is forecast. This has been Britain’s wettest winter since records began around two and a half centuries ago.

  • Roger Darlington

    Hi, David. I don’t think it will be long before one of those five countries has a political scandal or revolution or coup or volcano eruption or hurricane. But don’t blame me!

  • Carrie Biggs-Adams

    Sounds like a great trip – my family vacations to Costa Rica and Guatemala were wonderful memories – all revived by your posts. Love Antiqua, Tikal, Chicicastetanago…..and the “god” in Lake Atitlan hasn’t changed in 18 years.

    We did that trip just my husband and I with 2 little girls…..but then I do love an adventure.

  • Roger Darlington

    Hi, Carrie. Glad that it brought back some happy memories.


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