Puerto Barrios is a small city along Guatemala's northern Caribbean coastline. Although nearby Livingston has a large Garifuna population, there are also a couple of thousand here. Garifuna people are descendants of a mix of African slaves and Carib Indians from the island of St. Vincent further east in the Caribbean.
There are regular connections to Guatemala City, taking about 5-6 hours, and to Rio Dulce (1.5 hours). You can also travel regularly by minibus (every 20 minutes or so during the day) to the border with Honduras, taking about 1.5 to 2 hours. Onward transport goes to Omoa, Puerto Cortes, San Pedro Sula and La Ceiba (for the ferry to Roatan). Whether you can reach Roatan in a day is a matter of luck, but try and get the first minibus from Puerto Barrios if possible.
There are a couple of ferries a day to Livingston (taking 1.5 hours), but much more (and faster) fast boats which leave when full and only take 30 minutes. A daily fast boat leaves at 10:00am to Punta Gorda in Belize, taking about 1 hour to cross.
Internet access is widely available. Even most of the more remote areas have some type of internet access available. Many larger areas also have WiFi. All of the Camperos chicken/pizza restaurants (which are numerous) offer free WiFi, as well as many other restaurants and cafes. Some hotels may also offer computer banks with internet access. Just ask and you eventually will find some sort of free access.
If you have a smartphone such as iPhone, Google Android, you just need a local SIM card (roughly Q25) and can start enjoying the prepaid access plans, which generally come in lots of an hour, a day, or a week.
See also International Telephone Calls
Guatemala's emergency phone numbers include 110 (police), 120 (ambulance) and 123 (fire). Guatemala's international calling code is 502. There are no area codes. Phone numbers all have eight digits.
The phone system isn't great, but it works. Tourists can call abroad from call centers, where you pay by the minute. It is also easy to purchase a calling card to use at public pay phones. The phones there do not accept money, so to use a public phone on the street you must purchase a telephone card. Typically, the cost is around 8 quetzals for a 10-min call to North America, and slightly more to Europe. Cell phones are quite cheap and calling overseas through one can get as low as $0.08 a min. If you are planning to stay for a while and plan to use the phone, you should consider buying a cheap prepaid phone. Wireless nation-wide internet access for laptops is also available as a service from some companies. Telefónica has good coverage with their PCMCIA EV-DO cards.
El Correo is the national postal company in Guatemala. It offers a wide range of services, including sending cards and packages both domestically as well as internationally. Most Guatemalan towns have a post office, although your best bet is to send mail from a large city. Service at El Correo is improving, thanks to consultation and assistance from Canada Post. Most post offices open from 8:30am to 5:30pm. Airmail letters to North America and Europe cost from Q6.50 and take a week or two to arrive. High-end hotels can usually send your mail for you, too. Expect packages you send through the Guatemalan mail system to take a very long time to arrive. They usually get there in the end, but it's worth paying extra for recorded delivery (correo registrado). Many stores can ship your purchases for you, for a cost. Valuable items are best sent with private express services. Couriers operating in Guatemala include DHL, UPS, and FedEx. Delivery within two to three business days for a 1-kg package starts at about Q500.
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