Affectionately called “Huehue” (WAY-way) by locals, this somewhat busy coffee-trading town sits in a valley overlooking the glaciated peaks of the Sierra de los Cuchumatanes. Because of its location in the mountain chain’s rain shadow, the town and surrounding areas are somewhat drier than the Quiché highlands to the east, which lie on the mountain chain’s windward side.
The departmental capital is busy with travelers heading to or from the western border with Mexico as well as with coffee farmers and traders heading to or from nearby farms.
Since first coming here at the age of three, I watched the town grow up into a somewhat disorganized agglomeration of trade and commerce, though there has been a remarkable improvement in the level of its services. It makes a great jumping-off point for deeper explorations of the very diverse department of Huehuetenango and even includes a worthwhile site of its own, this being the ruins of Zaculeu just outside of town.
Access to Huehue is mainly via the Pan-American Highway, with the turnoff into town at Km. 264, from where it’s another three kilometers to its center via a boulevard. A recently paved road now also leads east to Sacapulas, passing the town of Aguacatán (and wonderful mountain views) along the way.
Getting to Huehuetenango
Huehue’s bus terminal is about two kilometers southwest of the city center, halfway along the boulevard leading out to the Pan-American Highway. There are frequent buses to many outlying towns and villages, most notably: Aguacatán(one hour, $1), Barillas (seven hours, $4), La Mesilla (two hours, $2), Sacapulas (1.5 hours, $2), Soloma (three hours, $2.50), and Todos Santos Cuchumatán (two hours, $2).
Pullman bus service to Guatemala City is available via Transportes Los Halcones (7a Avenida 3-62 Zona 1, tel. 7764-2251, $5) at 4:30 a.m., 7 a.m., and 2 p.m. Transportes Zaculeu Futura (3a Avenida 5-25 Zona 1, tel. 7764-1535) has departures at 6 a.m. and 3 p.m. Transportes Velásquez, operating from the main terminal, is another option, with buses every half hour or so between 8:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
© Al Argueta from Moon Guatemala, 3rd Edition. Photos © Al Argueta www.alargueta.com