• In the Clouds – Guatemala

    Posted by Loren on February 4, 2011

    Our first thought when entering Guatemala was “no topes – yes!” Maybe we have finally left the speed bumps behind. In our first town coming over the border, Murray was in lead, and we were on the radios discussing which direction to take. Just then, a bus coming from the opposite direction, careened into our lane as he passed a black smoke spewing ute carrying an entire class of school kids. To avoid a head on, Muz veered off the side of the road kicking up dust, empty beer cans and 10 year old plastic bags. Safely back on the road, he then came back on the radio, and continued to discuss the directions. You know you have been in Latin America awhile when the only acknowledgement of a near head-on collision with a bus is 3 seconds of radio silence while you avoid barrelling into the myriad of coconut sellers on the side of the road.

    The cure for traffic, pollution and what can only be described as bad driving, is a healthy dose of smooth road devoid of vehicles, snaking it’s way for 30km through a rain forest up to 2800m. A very warm and dusty 33C start to the day now found us at 14C and in the clouds. Saturday afternoon we parked the bikes in some friends courtyard, and had a personal tour of Quetzaltenango from the backseat of a car. We never realised how relaxing it is being a passenger in a car. Following a great stay with friends on Saturday evening and spending time together again on Sunday morning, we headed off that afternoon for a 75km ride south. The ride found us surpassing the 3000m altitude mark and witnessing evidence of the horrific landslides that Guatemala experienced late last year. Many detours were in place where rocks and earth had slid down from the high road cuttings and blocked the path. In one instance, a complete bridge had disappeared, presumably due to flooding at the time.

    With 26 volcanos on offer, we decided to pitch our tent right in front of three of them, on Lake Atitlan. This was our best camping spot yet, but can someone tell us, why do all the best spots have sand flies? Five nights later, they still itch.

    A review of a calendar makes us aware that we need to get motoring to Panama, especially if we want some days on the beach. An overnight visit to Antigua found an overpriced, tourist ridden town with bad coffee. However, the town is steeped in history and the architecture was outstanding. From our campsite and again on the way out the following day, Volcano Pacayan intermittently puffed and smoked in the background, a grand scene indeed, and a good way to exit Guatemala.

2 Comments | Leave a Reply

  1. Donna on February 8, 2011 at 4:51 am

    Beautiful light in the water fountain picture! (Happy riding today… it looks like you’re coming up to another border crossing ;)

  2. Beth Dew on February 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    You handsome chap Murray.xx