Saturday 14th April 2012 (Letter 23rd January 1880)

GCC complains of the high prices in Guatemala City, circumnavigates the Lake of Amatitlán and prepares to set off for rainy Cobán

The letter here provides a little information about the high prices of goods and services George Charles Champion found in the capital (prices are in UK shillings), and shows how he tried to keep his visits to the city to the minimum.

Jan 23rd, 1880

My dear Mother,

I am writing to Chancey (???) and enclose a few lines for you. I received your letter of Nov 27th on Jan 18th, a few days after I had written to you. I was sorry to hear that father had been so unwell. I hope by the time you receive this you will both be better and that you will have lost your cough. Business must be dreadfully bad.

I keep very well though there is a good deal of sickness about just now, as usual at end of rainy season. I was detained in Guatemala eleven days, could not leave till I got the box up from the port. I left on the 18th, leaving Mr. Morgans behind and arrived here on following evening; was between nine and ten hours each day in the saddle. Am bringing out most of my luggage to San Gerónimo; don’t want to go to the capital again in a hurry – a man need be made of money to go there.

Very hot and dry here now and nothing to be got in my way. I leave on 25th for Alta Vera Paz; shall probably make Cobán headquarters for five or six weeks, and travel all round, then return again here. Am sorry to leave comfortable quarters but it is absolutely necessary. There will be quite a break up in the establishment, Mr. Morgans going to England and Mr. Hutchison to Belize. An American and his wife are coming from Guatemala to take charge in Mr. Morgans’ absence. I know the gentleman very well so shall get on all right with him.

I am leaving a note for Mr. Morgans to take to England with him, in case he has a chance of calling to see you; he promised me to do so if possible.

To give you some idea of price of things in Guatemala:
– boots soled and heeled 8/, – a new pair 26/-, hair cutting 1/-, beer only by bottle – a small bottle holds about a glass and a half 2/-, a larger bottle 3/6 or 4/-, felt hat 18/-, hotel expenses at least 10/- a day, large necktie 7/-, small 3/-, and so on.

There are only two ways of living, very high or very low, there is no medium. One thing, if you stay at Gran Hotel, you meet all the people worth knowing, and always English-speaking people.
I went to see Mr. Graham, the English minister (the ministers are not going to Costa Rica after all, it was only a rumour), and he afterwards came to see me at the hotel. On the 13th I made a flying trip to the Lake of Amatitlán (distant 6 leagues), returning to the capital in the evening; had previously travelled here but never round the lake, the view was very fine indeed.
The bright blue water of the lake and the very lofty mountains (with the two volcanoes Agua and Pacaya) on every side, seen under a cloudless sky, made a splendid picture.

I have not seen the mountains so clear of clouds for many months. Often the sun sets in a cloudless sky and as it goes down behind the distant mountains, we get magnificent views, the mountains gradually changing in colour, till very suddenly we find it dark, but as a set-off against all this we have the heat and the dust, which make travelling very unpleasant.

I now go to a place where it is always green and verdant, here probably shall get plenty of rain, though only 50 miles distant.

With kindest regards to all,
Believe me,
Your loving son,
George .C. Champion

Lago de Amatitlan

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