Bangkok, Thailand, as seen from Benjakitti Forest Park.
Where are Kevin and Ruth now? Ayutthaya, Thailand.

Where are Kevin and Ruth going next? Khao Yai National Park, Thailand on December 13th.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Send cash!

In Guatemala, they use the quetzale as money. There are approximately 8 quetzales to one dollar. We've had to make a little cheat sheet so we know how much things cost. Our problem yesterday was that we needed some cash!

When we tried to get the ATM in the central plaza to spit out some cash, it wouldn't work. We found out later that TD Canada Trust "chip" debit cards are the worst card you can try to use in Guatemala! From talking to another Canadian who's been here a while, there is only one bank in Guatemala that will accept our card. It's called BAC.

So we found out that there is one of these banks at the shopping plaza where the Walmart is here in Xela. It was about a 30 minute walk, and we had some phone calls to make (more about that later!) so we headed out at about 9:30am.

Made our phone calls at a place called . They operate this website, but they also have an internet cafe and international telephone calls. Tom is an expat from California who's been living here for 15 years or so.

Then we walked over to the Walmart.

Xela has a very modern commercial zone. It seems at odds with the street markets!

Walking into the Walmart, you would think you were back in the United States. First thing we saw was a sign saying no firearms allowed. Unlike Mexico, Guatemala allows people to carry guns. So this sign reminded us of Texas and some other states where it's common for people to carry guns. This Walmart was also much better stocked than the Walmarts in Mexico. Strange, but other than the Mayan women dressed in traditional clothing, you really did feel like you were in an American Walmart!

We found the ATM we were looking for at the BAC bank on the lower floor at the rear of the mall. Stuck the card in, and everything seemed to be working properly. It made that sound like it was counting out the cash, and then a red light came on at the cash outlet and the screen said "transaction cancelled"! 

The next guy who went in, (a local) also couldn't get the machine to work. I went into the branch and explained there was a problem and an employee came out to help us. This time, I did the exact same thing...and it worked. I had only done it for 1,000 quetzales ($135) so we'll have to do it again another time. But then when I checked my account online later, it had made two withdrawls! I've contacted my bank to see how we get this fixed. Wonder how long it will take. Good thing I hadn't asked for five times that amount!

Walking back, we went through a street market.

The women wear beautiful colorful clothing.

Lots of different pottery.

Dried fish and other goodies. And an old American school bus.

Traditional Mayan dress.

Kevin is by far the tallest person in the market!

We made our way back to the Casa Argentina where we're staying. There's an indoor market pretty much right across the street from there and we picked up the makings for stir fry. We got a head of broccoli, a head of cauliflower, 2 onions, 6 carrots, and a red pepper for a total of 18 quetzales ($2.40) and then two chicken breasts for 25.5 quetzales ($3.44). It was delicious, and enough left over for lunch today.

Ruth buying our veggies!

Spent the evening talking with some of the others staying here. A pretty varied mix of people from the 20 somethings backpacker crowd to a single man almost 70 years old who does paragliding! And from a variety of nations...Canada, U.S., Guatemala, Italy, France, Spain and others.

Ruth, in our cubbyhole. Including the bathroom, it's probably about the same size as the motorhome! Not bad for under $10 a night!


  1. glad you got some 'cash' finally..and your new 'room' is very cozy!!

  2. I sent you a check. Look for it to ariveany day now.

  3. At least you got some cash, hope you can straighten out you bank account back home.

  4. We had that double withdrawal thing happen to us once in Puerto Rico. It can be stressful. It did get sorted out eventually. Just keep checking online. If that's possible.
    Hey, at least with everyone being shorter than you, there's no danger of catching a cold. I think that's what saved me in Puerto Rico. I was usually the tallest person any time I was out and about.

    1. Kevin has contacted our bank and they have started an investigation and said that it could take up to 55 days before they figure out what happened and hopefully return our money. It's annoying though as we have to go back and take out some more and are wondering if it will happen to us again.

  5. For figuring the quetzal to USD rate I use the basic that 40=5. Forty Q is $5. Four Q is 50 cents. Then multiples. 8Q = $10. Sort of like you do I suspect. Have fun.

    1. Yep, that is definitely a great way for figuring out the prices fairly quickly. We hadn't actually thought of it that way, thanks for the tip.

  6. We like Guatemala so far - you are great tour directors - very interesting stuff!

    1. We like it here too so far. We can't wait to go on our hike and see some of the beautiful mountain.

  7. Now, don't you know it's a scam when you have people you know supposedly vacationing in another country ask you for cash???? LOL .... hope you get it all straightened out soon.

    1. We got money so we are happy about that, just have to wait for the bank to investigate the double withdrawl though and they said that could take up to 55 days to sort out.

  8. I like Bob's comment about getting a cold, :) Looks like you are off to a good start. Get lots of rest, summer is coming!


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