Nebaj was home to our worst experience in Guatemala so far. Its too bad, because I'm sure we would have eventually found our way back to Nebaj in the future before this incident took place. Now, I'm of the opinion, that with so many wonderful places to go in Guatemala, why go back to Nebaj and risk dealing with scam artists again. The weather was horrible when we were there, it rained constantly, and I'm sure what is normally a beautiful view, was hidden under a thick blanket of clouds. I would have like to have gone back and explored the hiking opportunities.
The issue started on a rainy morning as we were trying to leave town. A greedy evil “guide” decided that he should take over our transport arrangements and did his very best to convince us that we had to go somewhere with him for some other bus, and to convince the people around us that we were rude gringos who were arguing over the price (which we weren't). Well truth be told, I'm not sure exactly what rumors he was spreading about us, because he was doing so in Spanish, but 'Quetzal' was every other word. Quetzal is both the name of the Guatemalan currency, and its national bird, and I'm pretty sure he wasn't discussing wildlife. It was a long, super frustrating hour in which the “guide” refused to let anyone else talk to us, and those people, being spineless, went along with it. We finally figured out the right Spanish words to be able to ask the only people who would give us honest information, the actual people on the bus. It turned out that we had been right all along and the schmucks of the Nebaj minibus mafia were just trying to make our lives painful (and apparently give their town a bad name).
So, hard fought, here's what we know to be true as far as getting from Nebaj to Coban by public transit. Unless you catch the rumored 5am direct bus to Coban, you'll have to do a few transfers. In theory, its another long, but easy day. Get on a minibus that is going to Santa Cruz del Quiche. They leave from the corner of 5 Calle and ... one block behind the church. Don't listen to anyone telling you that this is wrong. All you want is a ride back down the hill from Nebaj to the main road. It shouldn't be difficult. You want to get off at the Cunen Junction (Union is the Spanish word for junction) it takes about 45 minutes and is Q15pp. From this intersection, cross the street to where you see a little bus shelter. Flag any bus that passes eastward, as its likely going to Upsantan, and so are you (Q15pp). Upsantan is maybe a 1.5 hour ride. Once in Upsantan mini buses go to Coban (Q30pp). We had to wait a little while for the transfer, but it was less than an hour. The ride itself was about 2.5 hours from Upsantan to Coban.
Recap: Total travel time: 6 hours
Nebaj- Cunen Junction
Cunen Junction – Upsantan