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Satety in Guatemala?

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My husband and I have been planning a trip to Guatemala for a few months now and knew that there are safety concerns (pretty much anywhere in Central America). We weren't too concerned and are really intrigued by the interesting combination of towns/nature/culture that can be found in Guatemala. However, after reading through the Lonely Planet guidebook, we are suddenly alarmed by the warnings of highway robbery (which I always thought meant getting ripped off, not getting robbed by masked men with large guns...)

We are fairly seasoned travelers and don't normally worry about these safety issues because we figure that living in Chicago is probably more dangerous. However, searching on the internet has left us quite scared of Guatemala and its reputation for violent crime. Any comments? What concerned us the most is the warning about taking tourist vans between Antigua and Panajachel (the road traveled by nearly everyone). Did you feel safe? Which company did you use (we do not want to take a tour but plan on arranging for transportation in advance).

I have no doubt that the Guatemalans are a warm and friendly people. I also doubt that we will really be the victims of some violent crime. But is traveling to Guatemala worth the worry?

Thanks in advance!

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