This rather unattractive town lies farther west toward the Mexican border and, as such, is the haunt of the usual rag-tag group of felons inhabiting shady border towns. It also doubles as a busy commercial center for the surrounding coffee farms.
If you need to stay here, your best bet is the Hotel Villa Real (6a Calle 6-57 Zona 1, tel. 7775-1939, $20d), housed in a building dating to the early 1900s, featuring very clean rooms with ceiling fan, cable TV, and comfortable beds.
There is also an anexo down the street with newer, single-bed rooms. The owner claims 80 percent of the local population is armed in this Guatemalan “red zone” and may be closing his doors in the next few years.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com