Can someone please explain to me what the zones in Guatemala mean? I've tried to just pick it up as I've learned along, but I don't understand it still. We are only allowed to stay in Zone 10 in Guatemala and just wondered what all the zones were and what they meant.
Just different "neighborhoods" for lack of a better word. Like a zipcode area. Zone 10 is where the airport, embassy, and most of the hotels adoptive parents stay in are.
Our little guy is living in Zone 6, which I hear is quite rough - high crime. I would love to know more about the different zones!
Each zone is a different section of the city. Zone 1 is the center of the city. The zones then spiral out around the city counter clockwise..
Zone 1 ~ The is Old GC where the Presidential Palace is located. I traveled here to a little shop that sold Christening gowns so that Bryce would be dedicated in a gown made in Guatemala.. Unfortunately, all of the gowns were made in Mexico! So, Bryce was dedicated in a gown made in Mexico but PURCHASED in Guatemala!
Zones 9&10 are the areas nicer hotels, some wealthy residence, shopping, and nightlife ~ basically where we all stay when visiting or p/u. I believe the US Embassy is also in Zone 10.
There are 21 zones in all, and some are very dangerous.. I would assume the zones that are not mentioned much are the residential or dangerous zones.
An interesting thing about GC is that there are no street names... All streets are either a Calle or Avenida. Avenidas run north to south, and Calles run east to west. So, when you have an address, you have to have the zone, because there could be the same address in another zone. Understanding the addresses is something I've not yet figured out.. This is what one site gives as an example...
Each address has three numbers—"1 Avenida 5-25" for example—to indicate the street number and the approximate distance, in meters, from the nearest cross street. The distance in meters (in this case "25"), is odd for houses on the north side of a street (or avenue) and even for those on the south.
Clear as mud???
For those interested, just google 'zones of guatemala city', and you'll get a lot of information.
It is pretty cool...thanks for the explanation. We found out that our FM lives in zone 7...which we also found it pretty bad....I wasn't to thrilled but I am trying to to dwell on it.
I think within each Zona there are safer and unsafe areas, and the only one I've heard consistently referred to as dangerous is Zona 1. A corporate security guide I found a while ago online says this about the various zones-you have to scroll down a bit( [url=]Content Display[/url]) says this:
[FONT=Arial]Security Briefing [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Social Unrest[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Guatemalan citizens' frustration with crime and a lack of appropriate judicial remedies has led to violent incidents of vigilantism, including lynchings, especially in more isolated rural areas. It is wise to avoid any public gathering of agitated citizens; persons attempting to intervene have themselves been attacked by mobs.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Visitors to rural areas with predominantly indigenous populations should be aware that close contact with children, including taking their photographs, can be viewed with deep alarm, and may provoke panic and violence.
A few large political demonstrations have occurred in recent years in Guatemala City. Demonstrations can cause serious traffic disruptions, but they are usually announced in advance. Visitors are encouraged to keep informed by following the local news and consulting hotel personnel and tour guides. While most demonstrations are peaceful, some have turned violent, and travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Street Crime[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Although almost all of the 180,000 U.S. tourists who visit Guatemala annually do so without incident, the twin legacies of widespread poverty and violence combine to produce a level of crime that is a serious concern for tourists and residents alike. The safest means to visit Guatemala is through a reputable tour organization, although small tour buses are occasionally targets of crime. Tourists who explore off the beaten track and stay in budget hotels may be more susceptible to crime.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Violent criminal activity has been a problem in Guatemala for years including numerous murders, rapes, and armed assaults against foreigners. The police force is young, inexperienced, and under-funded, and the judicial system is weak, overcrowded, and inefficient. Criminals, armed with an impressive array of weapons, know that there is little chance they will be caught and punished for their crimes. Pickpockets and purse snatchers are prevalent in major cities and tourist sites, especially the Central Market and other parts of Zona 1 in Guatemala City. These thieves also prey on travelers using lower-priced intercity buses (recycled U.S. school buses known as "chicken buses").
Rather than traveling alone, use a reputable tour organization. Stay in groups; travel in a caravan consisting of two or more vehicles; and stay on the main roads. Ensure that someone not traveling with you is aware of your itinerary. Resist the temptation to stay in budget hotels, which are clearly more susceptible to crime. Travel after dark anywhere in Guatemala is extremely dangerous. Stay in the main tourist destinations. Do not explore back roads or isolated paths near tourist sites. Pay close attention to your surroundings, especially when walking or when driving in Guatemala City. Refrain from displaying expensive-looking jewelry, large amounts of money, or other valuable items. Finally, resisting an armed assailant may provoke a more violent response.
Specific Information:
Pick-pockets and purse-snatchers are active in all major cities and tourist sites, especially the central market and other parts of Zone 1 in Guatemala City and the city of Antigua. In a common scenario, one person sprays mustard or other condiments on a victim's clothes and an accomplice robs the victim as they "help" clean up the mess. The use of other forms of distraction, such as dropping a purse or an accomplice appearing to faint, have also become common pick-pocketing techniques. Bag slashing is also a common occurrence. Those who offer no resistance when confronted by armed thieves are usually not hurt. Travel after dark is extremely dangerous and not recommended anywhere in Guatemala.
Zone 1
The U.S. Embassy does not allow Peace Corps volunteers to stay in hotels in Zone 1 and urges private travelers to avoid lodging in this area. Other dangerous zones of Guatemala City include: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 18. Business travelers are urged to stay in international class hotels in Zones 9, 10, or 13.
Be alert for carjackers. Carjackings and highway robberies have become increasingly violent. At least two tourists were killed in highway robbery attempts in mid-June 2002. Many of the robbery attempts have occurred in daylight hours on main highways.
Avoid low-priced intercity buses (recycled U.S. school buses known as "chicken buses"), which are a haven for criminals and susceptible to accidents. Use modern intercity buses instead. Be cautious with personal items such as backpacks and fanny packs, as they are a favorite target of thieves. Avoid local buses in Guatemala City. They are overcrowded and harbor criminals.
Do not hail taxis on the street in Guatemala City. Use dispatched taxis or taxis from major hotels instead.
Roads Outside the City
The main road to Lake Atitlan via the Pan-American Highway (CA-1) and Solola is safer than the alternatives, though recent attacks have made caravaning highly recommended. Violent attacks have been reported consistently on secondary roads near the lake. There have been several attacks on travelers on CA-2 near the border areas with both Mexico and El Salvador and on CA-1 near the El Salvador border. There have been armed attacks on roads from Guatemala City to the Peten. Visitors to the Mayan ruins at Tikal are urged to fly to nearby Flores and then travel by bus or tour van to the site.
Violent attacks have occurred in the Mayan ruins in the Peten, including in the Cerro Cahui Conservation Park, Yaxha, the road to and inside Tikal Park, and in the Tikal ruins. Tourist police (POLITUR) patrols inside the park have significantly reduced the violent crime incidents inside the park, but no portion of the Tikal ruins is completely safe. Most criminal activity has taken place in isolated areas away from the "Plaza Mayor.", such as Temple VI.
Overland travel in the rest of Peten Department is dangerous and is not recommended.
VolcanoesForeign tourists have been targeted by armed robbers while climbing Pacaya and Agua, two volcanoes near Guatemala City. Climbing in groups reduces, but does not eliminate the risk of assault. Tourists planning to climb Pacaya and Agua volcanoes during Guatemala's rainy season (May through October) should plan their climb for the morning hours when it is less likely that thunderstorms will occur. Climbers should monitor the weather situation and return to the base of the volcano as quickly as safely possible if thunderstorms gather. A Canadian tourist was killed by a lightening strike while climbing Pacaya in June 2002.
Foreign residents of Guatemala have special concerns. At least ten American citizen residents have been murdered since December 1999, and none of the cases have been solved. Two American citizens were kidnapped in 2001.
Crime Victims
While foreigners often experience frustration with Guatemalan investigative capabilities, the embassies cannot substitute for a deficient Guatemalan judicial system. Nevertheless, foreigners who are victims of crime are encouraged to contact their embassy for advice and assistance. For a listing of recent serious crime incidents involving foreigners, consult the U.S. Embassy's website, [url=]Home - U.S. Embassy Guatemala[/url].
Loss of Passport
The loss or theft abroad of a passport should be reported immediately to the local police and the nearest embassy or consulate of the country from which it was issued. Citizens applying for replacement passports will be asked to present proof of citizenship and identity. Photographic proof of identity is especially important for young children because of the high incidence of fraud involving children. Passport replacement can be facilitated if the traveler has a photocopy of the passport's data page. [/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Organized Crime[/FONT]
While crime in Cerro Cahui and Tikal National Parks remains a problem, a new police tourist police force (POLITUR) has helped. Well-armed gangs that use massive force have shot up banks and armored cars, with concomitant casualties. Areas that were once relatively secure, such as the main road to Lake Atitlan and the Mayan ruins at Tikal, are now less safe. Emboldened armed robbers have attacked vehicles on main roads in broad daylight. Travel on rural roads always presents the risk of a criminal roadblock or ambush around the next bend. Widespread narcotics and alien smuggling activities can make remote areas especially dangerous.
A recent correspondent from Guatemala reports a disturbing incident of crime that took place in Tikal, a popular destination for tourists.
"There are so many guns and pickpockets all over Central America. We were at one of the entry points to go into Tikal, when a man coming out of the park reported that it might not be a good time to go in. A Canadian woman and an American man had entered the park around 9a.m. and were found just a while ago. A group of four bandits, three armed with machetes and the fourth with a machine gun held them up, stripped them of all their clothing, and tied them to the ground. They were robbed of all their possessions including their clothes. Not discovered until later nor reported to the police, likely due to the shock of violence and the distrust of the system, the woman had also been raped by all four bandits." (1/2001)
Remote areas of the south coast of Guatemala can be dangerous because of alien and narcotics smuggling activities and piracy. [FONT=Arial]Exercise caution in the Rio Dulce area of eastern Guatemala. Widespread illegal activities, such as narcotics trafficking, have increased security risks in this remote area.[/FONT]
[FONT=Arial]Cultural Conflicts[/FONT]
Avoid close contact with children, including taking their photographs, especially in rural areas with predominantly indigenous populations. Such contact can be viewed with deep alarm and may provoke panic and violence. Rumors of foreigners stealing children to sell resurface periodically and can provoke a violent response towards strangers.. Foreign tourists have been attacked and killed by mobs, including a Japanese tourist in the village of Todos Santos in 2000.
[FONT=Arial]Travel Warnings[/FONT]
Roadblocks and other demonstrations by various groups and in multiple locations frequently appear in Guatemala with little notice. In June 2002, former members of Guatemalan civil defense patrol, many of them armed, blocked all major roads in the Petn region, including the airport in Flores, and forcibly detained some tourists. Promised payments to the patrol groups have not materialized, and they are threatening new demonstrations throughout Guatemala that may impede the ability to move freely and safely within and into the country.
A successful teachers' strike in February 2003, which blockaded both international airports and most major highways leading into Guatemala from neighboring countries, may encourage other groups to use these methods. Guatemala's presidential elections are scheduled for November 2003; protest activities by a variety of groups can be anticipated throughout the months approaching the election.
Most demonstrations in Guatemala have been peaceful, but increasing numbers are turning violent. Travelers should avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place. The use of roadblocks and/or blocking of public facilities, including the international airports, has increased, and demonstrators may prevent tourists caught behind the blockades from leaving. Visitors to Guatemala should monitor local media reports and consult hotel personnel and tour guides to see if there is protest activity that justifies suspension of travel. Also check with your embassy.
More information about tourist security is available from:
Tourist Protection Office of INGUAT (the Guatemalan Tourist Board)
4 Calle 4-37, Zone 9
Tel: [502] 331-1333, extensions 241 and 243
Fax: [502] 331-8893
Tourist groups may request security assistance from:
Attention: Coordinator of the National Tourist Assistance Program.
The request should be submitted by mail, fax or e-mail and should arrive at INGUAT at least three business days in advance of the proposed travel, giving the itinerary, names of travelers, and model and color of vehicle in which they will be traveling.
Our little guy is living in Zone 6, which I hear is quite rough - high crime. I would love to know more about the different zones!
I lived in Zone 6 for a couple of months. There are parts that are dangerous but not the whole zone. I knew VERY nice families in this area.
Zone 1 is the downtown area. I also lived and worked in this area for several months. It has some nice residential areas and is like most big cities, use caution especially after dark.
My daughter lives in zone 18 (ironically I lived in this zone for 6 months). This zone is further out from the city center and is "middle class" as far as Guatemala goes. But again there are areas that are not so nice.
The city is a very diverse place and it is interesting to drive through the various parts to get the flavor of the city (if you have a driver of course). Of course when I lived there, we took the city buses everywhere so we drove through many parts of the city.
If you look at some of the travel books, they give more details about the city layout.