Blog: Going to Guatemala
Leonie Barrie | 29 April 2004
I’m due to travel out to Guatemala at the weekend for next week’s Apparel Sourcing Show in Guatemala City and have been doing some final research into the country so that I have some idea of what to expect when I get there. First port of call, as always, is the UK government’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office travel advisory, a service that provides a great snapshot of what to expect when planning a trip overseas. From my experience travelling to Colombia earlier this year – when all the overseas visitors I spoke with were amazed at the disparity between the stylish and sophisticated country we encountered and the totally negative image portrayed by the media – I was more than prepared for an unenthusiastic FCO write-up. In summary it says: “Visitors to Guatemala should be on their guard and exercise great caution as violent crime is common throughout the country. In particular, avoid travelling at night or visiting remote places unaccompanied. Avoid demonstrations.”
But I’ve also checked out what it has to say about the US, and this makes for grim reading too: “You should be alert to the dangers of car and street crime in cities. If staying in a hotel, do not leave your door open at any time. Avoid wearing expensive jewellery and walking in run down areas. Do not sleep in your car on the roadside or in rest areas. If hit from behind while driving, indicate to the other driver to follow you to a public place and call for Police help.”
In short, the message seems to be that wherever you go in the world you should be particularly vigilant in public places. Which is common sense, really. And almost as an aside, it stresses that: “the overwhelming majority of visits are of course trouble-free.”
I for one am immensely excited about the trip, and am looking forward to a busy week. Some factory visits are being lined up and then of course there’s the show itself where I hope to make contact with local suppliers as well as those from other Central American regions. With all the excitement generated by CAFTA it will be good to hear first-hand how this, and the elimination of quotas in 2005, are likely to impact on the area. I'll let you know, of course, how I get on.
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