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Old 07-12-2008, 03:06 PM   #212
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Fiendish Fluoridator
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Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Please don't call it 'Frisco
Oddometer: 523
Guatemala City

I rode to Guatemala City, honestly, because it has a train museum. A tiny part of the back of my brain hoped that Guatemala City might be something like Mexico City (probably just because they both end in "City") but no, it isn't.

I bypassed Antigua Guatemala entirely. I would have liked to ride through town but the train museum closed at 4:30pm and wasn't going to be open the following day (Monday). You thought I was joking about the train museum? Anyways, from all reports Antigua is just like Xela but with smog and more tourists, so I don't feel bad.

I arrived in Guatemala City, got a room at a hotel two blocks from the train museum, and spent the next couple hours there.

They have trains.

This was used for hauling around VIPs. It was powered by a 100hp inline-6 diesel:

Ever wonder what a relief map of Guatemala looks like?

Unfortunately I was disappointed with the exhibit. I wanted to know the history of railroads in Guatemala; where they go, when they ran, why they were built, who built them, where and why they stopped running. There was very little narrative available. There was not even the usual little shop selling history books and wooden train whistles. It was just a bunch of stuff with brief labels. Sadly, I've noticed this tends to be a problem with museums in Central America - they tend to assume you know the relevant history and present objects with insufficient context to appreciate them. The Sacramento Railroad Museum this was not.

Shingle-builders take note: Guatemala is probably not going to be a good destination for your hobby. There's a lot of recently abandoned track, but it looks like most of the Guatemala railway was built narrow gauge (3' by eyeball) and at the rate the jungle grows, good luck finding it!

One neat thing about the museum was a little room which contained pictures from a couple dozen other museums in Guatemala:

Lest you get the impression that 3.1 million people all live in a train museum, here's Guatemala City... it's not especially pretty:

San Francisco to Panama and back... eventually?
How I Nearly Killed My Friends In Baja
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