Heading east from Guatemala City brings you into the long, flat valleys of the region Guatemalans call El Oriente (the East). It's a dry and unforgiving landscape of stunted hillsides covered in scraggly brush. It's tough out here and the cowboy hats, boots, buckles and sidearms sported by a lot of the men in the region fit well against this rugged backdrop.
Most travelers pass through on their way to Copán in Honduras or to visit the pilgrimage town of Esquipulas. Further east, the landscape becomes a lot more tropical and you'll see plenty of fruit for sale at roadside stalls. If you've got some time in this area, a quick side trip to the ruins at Quiriguá is well worth your while.