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Latin America Team Dispatch

I Need to Be WHERE?!? WHEN?!?

WOW! Can you imagine the following?

You've spent five weeks in Guatemala as a World Trek Team Member. You've seen incredible Mayan cities that have survived hundreds of years, you've met people who have survived a civil war that saw incredible human rights violations and who are struggling to build a just society. You've met a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Rigoberta Menchu, and you've met tons of kids from all over.

Now, you've got one week left before you leave this beautiful country and its wonderful people. You settle in one evening to spend a little time on your computer to write your dispatch for the website and to check your e-mails. You've barely entered your password when the following message pops up on the screen:

ATTENTION all world Trek Team Members! URGENT message!

Does anyone want to interview Oscar Arias - the 1987 Nobel Peace Laureate and former President of Costa Rica? Well, you've got a golden opportunity! He's invited the team to join him next Thursday at 11AM at his home in San José, Costa Rica. Make sure you bring a video camera, tell him all about our World Trek and the thousands of students who are following you around the world, and then ask him all the questions that will be sent to you from students via the internet.

You must move now! Your assignment is the following:

No matter where you are in Guatemala - in the northern rainforests like Kavitha, exploring Mayan ruins and volcanoes in the west like Shawn, or still preparing to leave the United States like Kevin - you must all get to Guatemala City in two days for a Team Meeting! When you get to Guatemala City you must find the Hotel Ciudad Vieja where you are to meet promptly at 8AM. Do not be late!

You must then select two or three of you to leave immediately that day to go conduct the interview.

You must use your guidebooks to figure out how you will get from Guatemala, through El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica, to get to the beautiful city of San José where Oscar Arias lives.

Good Luck

Just days ago all of us on the World Trek Team got a message very much like this one!

GUATEMALA CITY - Getting there and away

BUS Guatemala City has no central bus terminal, even though many Guatemalans talk about the Terminal de Autobuses in Zona 4. Ticket offices and departure points are different for each company. Many are near the huge and chaotic market in Zona 4. If the bus you want is one of these, go to the market and ask until you find the bus.

San Salvador (El Salvador, 268 km, five hours) Melva Internacional… runs buses from Guatemala City to Cuilapa, Oratorio and Jalpatagua to the Salvadoran border at Valle Nuevo and onward to San Salvador hourly from 5am to 4pm (US$6.65)… From San Salvador, buses continue to all the other Central American capitals except Belize City.

Excerpt from The Lonely Planet's Central America Guidebook, pp130-132

Believe it or not, we all made it to the meeting on time. We decided that Abeja and Kavitha should stay to finish the work they are doing with local organizations in Guatemala. That meant that Shawn (the Team techie), Kevin (who speaks Spanish pretty fluently), and Monica (who can handle both computers and Spanish pretty well), were to hit the road immediately for Costa Rica.

Amazingly, Kevin had only arrived in Guatemala City at midnight the night before the meeting. We all gave him big hugs and welcomed him, and now two hours later he was beginning a journey that would take him three days on buses through most of Central America!

How did we know it would take three days if we've never been there?

We used guidebooks that give a lot of info about how to get from place to place. We've shared some of what we have found in the books here so that you can imagine planning the trip yourself.

EL SALVADOR - Getting there and away

LAND - Border Crossings Avoid arriving late in the afternoon, especially if crossing on international busses. If you aren't required ot have a visa… you must buy a tourist card, which costs US$10. As soon as you leave the country the card expires.

Buses to/from Nicaragua, Costa Rica & Panama Ticabus leaves the Hotel San Carlos in downtown San Salvador at 5:30 am and arrives in Managua, Nicaragua, at 6pm. If continuing farther, spend the night (US$7) and leave the following morning at 7am. The bus arrives in San Jose, Costa Rica, at 4:30 pm.

Excerpt from The Lonely Planet's Central America Guidebook, pp130-132

Well, needless to say, it was a long three days of buses through five different countries but we actually arrived a couple hours ahead of schedule in San José, Costa Rica's capital. Sure, we were kind of dirty and, yeah, our rear ends hurt a little, but we were still in one piece, ready for the interview THE NEXT DAY!

EXCEPT… the interview was postponed until THE NEXT WEEK!!!

WHAT?!? You mean we busted down here in THREE days so we could wait a week?!? You mean we are stuck in this tropical paradise with beaches and volcanoes and wonderfully friendly people for a whole week?!?

Hmmm...OK! Maybe we'll even tell you a little about it in the next update.

For now, you can read about Kevin's journey down to Costa Rica in "La Cucaracha! La Cucaracha!"


Kevin - La Cucaracha! La Cucaracha!
Kevin - La Cucaracha, the KID'S VERSION
Shawn - The Lion, the Witch and the Canoe!
Monica - Of Gritos and Guerras: Contrast between Nicragua and Costa Rica
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