GUATEMALA

 

 

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DAY427: SAN IGNACIO – THE MACHINE GUATEMALA

START: 7:45 – FINISH: 17:00 (04/05/16)

DISTANCE: 50KM – RIDE TIME: 3H52

We ended up staying a little longer in Belize even though it is expensive here. It has been well worth it. Over breakfast on the back lawn of the Fire Station we had a visit from some really colourful birds with long beaks. The Fire Station is on the outskirts of the jungle, because during the night I could hear the Howler monkeys. Our departure for the Guatemala border was delayed slightly because just as we were about to leave, Anja discovered she had yet another puncture. Anja is on a bit of a bad run with 4 in 4 days.

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The 16 km ride out to the border was pretty straight forward. We stopped by the Belize river at San Jose Succotz for something cold. It was super hot as usual. It was nice. There was a rapid and we could watch the birds drinking from the small pools.

 

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When we arrived at the border we got a nasty surprise when we were told we needed to part with US$ 20………for a border processing fee to get out of Belize. The Belize Customs Offices were just as unfriendly on the way out as they had been when we arrived. The second part of the crossing was hassle free and before we knew it, we had cycled over the bridge and we were in Guatemala. It was a big border town bigger than any of the towns we had passed in Belize. Having cycled just 16 km for the day we thought about finding the local Bomberios to camp. We decided in the end to try and do a few more kms and try to get away from the border. We managed another 37 km.

Our first introduction to Guatemalan roads was a good one. The road wasn’t too bad. Traffic was light. What traffic that passed us, gave us a friendly toot. People on the side of the road were friendly with lots of waves and hellos.

We passed lots of farms and we had our steepest climb in a long time which got us sweating. At 5 p.m. we got to a small village called Machine. It got its name because for many years a nearby mine had a lot of its equipment parked up here. The workers would tell the bus driver, stop at the Machine and then it became a village and the name stuck. We asked for somewhere to camp and was directed to a local restaurant. The owner said we could camp in her yard for $30 G about US$4. It was a nice modern place with a good shower and a fridge where we could freeze some water for tomorrow as I have had enough of drinking warm water all the time.

DAY 428: THE MACHINE – EL REMATE

START: 6:00 – FINISH: 9:30 (05/05/16)

DISTANCE: 34 KM – RIDE TIME: 2H 15

Last night the howler monkeys must have been really close because we could hear them really well.

We got up really early this morning and started cycling at 6 a.m. It was great to beat the heat. The road was very rolling with lots of little climbs but rewarding with a nice downhill. We passed lots of small villages. At 8:30 a.m. we stopped for our second breakfast next to a lake. No wind and the water was still. All around the lake a few people were washing clothes under small thatched shelters along the lake edge.

Close by we bought some oranges and with a special machine I had never seen before the lady peeled them for us.

It was only another 5 km down the road and we reached the junction for Tikal. There are some big Mayan Ruins there, that we will visit early tomorrow.

Being on the tourist trail we are paying a bit more to camp tonight on the lake edge within the grounds of a hotel. Its very nice and there is also a swimming pool which we will be using later.

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DAY 429: EL REMATE – REST DAY (06/05/16)

This morning we were out on the road at 6:30 a.m. to catch a mini-van to take us 30 km out to the ruins of the huge ancient Mayan city of Tikal. It was $150 G or about US$20 to get in. We arrived nice and early. The whole city is right in the jungle and we spent 8 hours wandering around this huge site. Not all the temples have been reclaimed from the jungle. But the ones that have – look spectacular. Our first plan was to walk out to the most northern part to visit temple number 4 which is also the most highest temple. From up there you could look out over the jungle and see the tops of Temple number 3 and the great pyramid poking up out of the jungle.

 

 

 On the way to temple number 4 we had our first of many wildlife encounters for the day. Anja spotted some Spider monkeys in the trees close by. They were eating fruits from the tree and were great to watch.

Wildlife is plentiful……while walking to the lost world or Great Pyramid we saw some Coatis. I think they are from the Raccoon family.

 

We saw lots of nice birds as we criss-crossed the jungle. The best sighting of the day was the little Toucan with its amazing colours and interesting beak. We were lucky to have been able to get so close.

 

 

 

After a whole day we didn’t see all the ruins. We were all of the same mind that we had see enough and that after Tikal we wouldn’t be needing to see any more Mayan ruins in Guatemala.

DAY 430: REMATE – SANTA ELENA

DAY 431: SANTA ELENA – REST DAY

START: 7:45 – FINISH: 11:00 (07/05/16)

DISTANCE: 32KM – RIDE: 2H01

We only had to cycle a couple of hours before we reached a bigger city. We went straight to the Bomberios to see if we would be able to camp with our first Guatemalan Bomberios. They are slightly different from the other Bomberios we have stayed with because they are a volunteer station but just as welcoming which was good. Their fire engine was a second from Japan and the Ambulance had come from Taiwan. We were able to camp out the back under a large shelter. It was only early and I went off and explored the town. It was pretty rundown. With one dirty main street and some broken roads running off the main. I passed 3 armed security guards with pump action shot guns guarding shops. Lots of the other shops had lightly armed security.

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We were going to leave today. But after getting the code for the Wi-Fi we were keen to stay another day and also prepare a bit more for the next 10 or so-day leg down to Largo Atitlin which will include some remote parts. Late morning we walked over to the Island Flores. Its the big tourist destination in the area and stopping off point on the way to Tikal.GUATEMALA 2 2016-05-08 034

 

 

DAY 432: SANTA ELENA – SAYAXCHER

START: 5:30 – FINISH: 12:00 (09/05/16)

DISTANCE: 72 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 24

When we left at 5:30 a.m. the Bomberios hadn’t got up yet. The gate was locked but had only been tied shut with some rope so we were still able to get out.

Early morning was a real nice time to be cycling. Nice and cool and the roads were quiet. After two hours we had cycled 30 km and stopped at a gas station for our second breakfast. Couple of hard boiled eggs and a banana. Bananas are cheap here at 7 for one US$ though they were much cheaper in Belize at 16 for one US$.

At the gas station there was a security guy running round with a AK-47 Machine gun. He always had his finger on the trigger.

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The roads here are not too bad…………the road came to a dead end. The old bridge had been removed and a new bridge had been started. Looked like work had stopped many years ago. A temporary 1 lane metal bridge had been built beside it. Beside that was the original wooden bridge only able to be crossed by pedestrians as half of that bridge was gone.

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Just before Sayaxcher we had to cycle through the smoke from a scrub fire on the side of the road.

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When we got to the next river there was no bridge at all. We had to take a free car ferry to get across to Sayaxcher.

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On board we spoke to a local Municipal police officer. He said that there was a good place for us to camp in the local park next to the river with toilets and a picnic shelter and that it would be safe as he would tell his colleagues and the Military. They would come in the night and check on us every hour.

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It sounded pretty good, so we went over for some lunch and afterwards a sleep under the trees next to the river.

During lunch I had to rush off to the toilet. There were 4 doors to the toilet block.I got a shock when I opened the first door to find it was no more than a changing room. The second door wasn’t any better. Running out of doors and options. The 3rd door revealed a toilet pan…………no plumbing. The stench was terrible………I had no option but to use it as a once only

While I was sleeping under the trees, Anja and Radko told me that an indigenous Indian family came along and all stared at me for 5 mins. The woman was speaking in Spanish and telling the family………he is dying. The only thing I was dying of was the heat. In the afternoon we had two lots of police come and check in with us. We told the guy from the boat we were thinking of going to the Bomberios to camp. He said we could camp at police HQ and would get someone to take us up. We couldn’t say no, because they have tried to be so helpful for us. Police HQ turned out to be a wooden shack round the back of the town hall which was where the toilet and shower was as well. The shower was a bucket shower in plain view of the road. There was no door on the toilet and whilst you were on the throne you could look out to the road and watch people walk past.

We ended up camping on the lawn in a small fenced park in front of the town hall.

The police here have a tough roster…………..very easy to remember. Its 24 hours on followed by 24 hours off all year. Just before dusk all the police came back to HQ to trade their batons for Pump action shot guns. During the night we had two police officers looking over us all night.

DAY 433: SAYAXCHER – LA CEIBA

START: 6:00 – FINISH: 13:00 (10/05/16)

DISTANCE:  66 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 14

Again this morning we got up at 4 a.m. We were awake a lot earlier than that. May 10th in Guatemala is Mother’s Day. It is a big celebration because shortly after midnight there were fireworks and loud music booming from the backs of trucks driving all round town. It continued for the next 5 hours. Despite the lack of sleep we were on the road by 6 a.m. It soon became very hot. Again we could hear the Howler monkeys as we cycled through the jungle. Large parts of the jungle have been cleared for cattle farming or for the production of palm oil. Large palm plantations have started to spring up.

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By mid-morning it was so hot we were stopping more and more often for something cold and cheap. For $1 you can get a frozen iceblock. At one of the Tienders they had a poor spider monkey tied up.

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Just down the road from here we heard there was a gas station we might be able to camp at for the night. We arrived there at 1 p.m. and called this day done. We spoke to the owners and they were happy for us to camp. It was too hot to put the tent up so we just relaxed under the verandah of the restaurant for a few hours before moving out to the grass. By then the shade had come around. After setting up our tents and starting to cook our dinner, we could see and hear a Howler monkey in a lone tree on a nearby hill.

DAY 434: LA CEIBA – CHISCE

START:  5:30 – FINISH: 11:30 (11/05/16)

DISTANCE:  53KM – RIDE TIME:  3H 48

We had such a nice morning ride passing through many small villages that were just starting to come to life as the sun was rising. People were waking and starting to go about their day. Many of the indigenous Indians with their colourful clothes were walking along the road. Some of the women skillfully carrying goods on their head.

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We have been battling the heat for days and now we have to battle the mountains. At first the road weaved itself through the mountains which were beautiful. Then we started to climb up into them. We had to cycle one short but brutal stretch with a 13% gradient which unfortunately is a sign of what is to come.

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Early start means an early finish. We reached Chisce, a medium-size town at 11:30 a.m. It was 40 degrees and a wise time to stop. We called into the town hall and asked if there was somewhere safe for us to camp for the night. After a bit of sorting out, we were told we could camp at a sort of  school and sports complex. It was completely fenced and there was a 24-hour security guard. It was perfect. We just set up our tents under a shelter that overlooked the 6-a-side soccer field.

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Radho and I went off to look for some fresh produce for dinner. Unfortunately it was very limiting……….we could only find tomatoes and onions for our salad whereas two days ago avocados and pineapples were plentiful. You just never know what is going to be about. Did find a good bakery to stock up on which was good.

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In the afternoon there was a school boys football practice. Didn’t think much of it until 5 p.m. when a women’s team turned up for a game. It must have been a big game because the grandstand was full and all of a sudden  our little camping spot was surrounded by spectators. So much for a much needed peaceful relaxing evening. Like Mexico……..Guatemala likes noise as well. Just a short distance from our tent a van was parked with loud speakers to broadcast the commentary. Our little campsite drew a group of inquisitive kids around it. At 7:30 p.m. we called it a day. I then had a group of kids peering in my tent and watching me sleep. I was so tired it didn’t stop me from sleeping. I woke up at 9 p.m. the lights were off and everyone had gone.

Then at 3:30 a.m. someone was letting off fireworks and the buses started running which meant they were constantly honking their horn. At 4 a.m. the lights on the football pitch came on for a women’s football practice.

DAY 435: CHISCE – CAMP GROUND

START: 5:30 – FINISH: 16:30 (12/0516)

DISTANCE:  49 KM – RIDE TIME: (12/05/16)

Today was a super tough soul-destroying but very character-building day.

From the moment we left Chisce we started to climb. The road wasn’t very kind with gradients of 13 & 15%. You just can’t cycle because it is so steep. So a lot of the day was spent pushing the bike. As we climbed higher and higher the landscape started to change with less jungle and pine trees started to appear and also hill sides filled out with coffee beans.

We only managed 35 km for the morning when we reached our first real town for the day Cabihuite. It must have been a bit of a hub. We were greeted with the hustle and bustle of trucks and buses and collectivos and rows of shops all selling the same stuff. We were pleasantly surprised when we found a small smart restaurant. For only Q$15.00 we had chicken, rice, onions and as much ice water as we wanted.

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After a very nice lunch. It was then back to a painful afternoon of climbing and climbing. We only managed another 15 km. Looking for somewhere to stay we came across a campground. At first it was Q$50.00 a night. We got it for Q$25.00. We were the only campers staying. It wasn’t a bad campground. It had a nice swimming pool, showers and a view over a small river at the bottom of a ravine.

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DAY 436: CAMPGROUND – COLBAN

START: 6:30 – FINISH: 12:00 (13/05/16)

DISTANCE:  26 KM – RIDE TIME: 3H 14

After some really tough days we are all looking forward to getting to Colban for a much needed rest. We still had to work for most of the last 26 km with a few hours of climbing before we had a nice little descent into Colban.

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It’s a real mountain town. Everything is built on a slope. A German colony was established here in the 1850s. They set up coffee plantations. In the past few days we have meet locals with German names who are descendants.

We went to ask at the Bomberios if we could camp. Just as we arrived we were approached by a journalist from a local paper who asked if he could do a interview with us. With my lack of Spanish, I didn’t have much to say. Anja speaks Spanish so she did all the talking. The Bomberios found us a nice camping spot on the lawn below the back of the Fire Station. Outside our gate, it opened straight out on to a local market where all the indigenous women were selling their goods – anything from live chickens, fruit and vegetables or flowers.

 

The climate here is a lot nicer. It is a lot cooler here in the mountains.

The last few days have caught up with me. In the afternoon I was feeling pretty sick – exhausted and sore stomach. I couldn’t do anything for the rest of the day.

 

DAY 437 & 438: COBAN – REST DAYS

This morning we relocated from the Bomberios to around the corner to a cheap, but nice US$10 hotel. We are definitely looking forward to having a couple of relaxing days. The hotel is on a main street across the road from the main church and Plaza. From the outside the hotel didn’t look like much. After entering from the ground floor you arrive in a beautiful courtyard filled with trees, grass and a fishpond. All the rooms are on the ground floor and open up onto the courtyard.

 

We spent most of the time in the hotel, only going out to get food or have a walk around the Plaza. At 7 a.m. on Sunday morning I could here singing coming from the Church so I went across the road to have a listen. The church was completely full. The street was busy with runners passing by the church. The street was also filling up with stall holders starting to set up for the day.

 

DAY439: COBAN – SAN CRISTOBAL VERAPAZ

START: 12:00 – FINISH: 15:00 (16/05/16)

DISTANCE: 29 KM – RIDE TIME: 2H 17

We planned only to go 29 km today to the next Bomberios so we had a bit of a late start and making the most of the hotel. At mid-day we started a small winding climb out of Coban. Then we had a very easy 20 km downhill to Santa Cruz Verpaz. Here we left the main road, for a smaller road that will take us to Largo Atilain. This is an area of Guatemala with a beautiful lake surrounded by volcanos. Some of them still active. San Cristobal Verapaz was only 4 km from the main highway. Here they also have a lake, unfortunately it is polluted. If you fall in you would need a trip to the hospital.

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We found the Bomberios and they found us a small spot to camp out the back of the fire station. We arrived quite early so I went for a walk into town to visit the plaza and the church. The plaza was well-shaded with tall palm trees which was nice.

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DAY 440: SAN CRISTOBAL VERAPAZ – ALDEA EL CRUZ

START: 06:50 – FINISH: 16:30 (17/05/16)

DISTANCE: 38 KM – RIDE TIME: 4H 47

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 This morning we cycled out of San Cristobal on a dirt road clinging to the side of the mountain while passing through many small villages. In 2009 there was a massive landslide that buried the road killing 30 people. They built the new road over the landslide and below you could see where the road had been buried.

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In  one  village we stopped we were surrounded by local children. I don’t think many tourists come this way.

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In the same village local women were making twine or rope. They had it stretching across the road.

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Earlier in the day I came across this lady making rope.

 

There was a steady stream of trucks carrying granite. All along the road the hillside is scarred with the signs of mining.

After days of climbing it was nice to have a 11 km downhill run to the river. We stopped here for lunch and by now it was super hot.

 

After lunch we paid for the downhill with a steep, steep climb for the rest of the day. I am sick of having to push my bike. As it was getting late we realised we were not going to reach the village we had intended to stay. We saw the sign for a water park and thought we would ask there. When we arrived it was all locked up. Some locals across the road said we could camp on their land. They took us down the road . On their land they had a horse, goats and chickens. They had just built a new chicken coop and we ended up sleeping in there.

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To wash we just used the water from a nearby waterfall.

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DAY 441 ALDEA EL CRUZ – USPANTAN

START 07:20 FINISH 12:50 (18/05/16)

DISTANCE 20KM RIDE TIME 2H56

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We all knew we were in for a killer climb this morning. As soon as we started we were straight into it. It was pushing all the way. Gradent of between 10 & 14%. It took 1 hour to go the 2km to reach the first village. We stopped at the first Teindia for a cold drink and a extended break.

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We started the day at 953meters and finished climbing at 1846 meters when we reached Uspantan. We got a really warm welcome when we got to the Bomberios. They gave us a really nice camping spot in the garden. After a bucket shower in the garden I walked into the centre of town. The Plaza was busy. Full of Indiduaious women sitting around in there beautiful coloured clothing. Off the plaza was a market with the indiduaious women selling fruit and vegtibles.

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I put up my tent before I walked into town. While I was in the internet cafe a flash storm erupted. It started buckeing down for the first time in months. I hadn’t put the fly on before I left and could only imagiane what I was going to find when I got back.

Luckey for me Anja & Radko had seen the storm coming and had very kindly put my fly on my tent

DAY 442 USPATAN – SACAPULAS

START 7:30 FINISH 14:45 (19/05/16)

DISTANCE 41KM RIDE TIME 4HO8.

With some more rain overnight we had a bit of a cool start to the day. It was very plesent to cycle in. Didn’t last long. One goog thing about the rain was, it cleared the air of the haze we have had for weeks. It was supper nice riding down the vally this morning. The light was good and the senary was sharp. We passed through lots of small villages. A lot of the villages aline themselves with a pictulair poltical party and there houses are painted with that partys colours and logos. Everything is fair game for party painting. Lamposts, the curb and dirt walls on the side of the road all get a paint job.

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We had a bit of a steep climb up to Cunen. We stopped in the Plaza for lunch. It was busy with people shading from the Sun. After lunch we had another tough climb in the hot sun slowly winding up to the top. Reaching the top was a nice view back over Cunen.

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Looking ahead you could only see mountian after mountian and a big vally below. It was a steep 10km decent down to Sacapulas. They are quarrying the mountian like mad. Sacapulas is just off the main road. We needed to cross over a long bridge to reach the town. The main road up to the Plaza was lined with market stalls. The plaza was also full of stalls and rubbish. Quite a few had already packed up leaving there rubbish behind. I made my way to the Bomberios………They have found us a spot.The only problem is there is no toloit and no water.

DAY 443 &444 SACAPULAS REST DAYS

In the end, we decided against staying with the Bomberios and instead cheeked into a basic hotel for a few nights. It was only Q$50.00 a night or (US$6.25) We had to drag our bikes up one flour. From here we had a view over the river. On Saturday afternoon we sat out in the court yard and watched locals fish with a net. The Town Plaza and church was only a short walk up the hill. Every time I walked up. I would stop at a Teiander for a chochalate Bannana It’s so cheep only Q$1.00 or ( US$0.12) Every big town has street venders selling 1 piece of chicken & chips for Q$7.00 this a good to go meal. The chicken is very tasty. It’s deffiantly a good little snack. Friday afternoon there was a bit of trouble at the town hall. At 5pm about 100 people gathered out the front stopping the people from inside from leaving. In the end somebody came out to talk to the croward and when I came past again a few hours later.

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Everyone had gone home. Earlier in the afternoon when I was in the internet cafe I noticed all the shops had closed. Then a pick up truck with a cofin came past with a funeral pression of trucks and pick ups carring the mornors. Thet were then followed by a pression of people on foot.

DAY 445 SACAPULAS – SAN PEDRO

START 7:00 FINISH 14:00 (22/05/72)

DISTANCE 42KM RIDE TIME 4H56

The evening before we had seen people starting to arrive and set up for the big Sunday market. In the afternoon the Plaza had been empty. When we went up to the plaza before leaving. It was a real hype of activity. People had come in from all the surounding villages to sell there whares. Anything and everything was on sale.

 

 

 

Today was a mostly climbing day from 1211 meters and at the end of the day we were up in the mountains at 2141 meters. The climb started very gradual as we followed the river up a wide valley. Once we left the river it was much steeper and some pushing was required. Once we got up over 2000meters a small section of the road was dirt and we were then cycling along the ridge of the mountains. It was beautiful scenery. The higher we have got the construction style of the building has changed. Going from Wooden to more stronger dark brown clay construction with clay tile roofs.

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Cycling into San Pedro I was passed by a funeral pression on the way to the church. The police were directing traffic and I asked for direction for the Bombeeios. When I arrived I found the most basic set up we had come across. The main building was just a wodden shack with a dirt flour. They slept inside on a camp strecher. The yard was a construction site with piles of rubble everywhere. They kindly took out one of the amblances from under the car port so we could have a place to camp.

DAY 446 SAN PEDRO- CHICHICASTENGO

START 6:30 FINISH 10:00 (23/05/16)

DISTANCE 26KM RIDE TIME 2H13

We wern’t sure what the road was going to be like this morning. At least the first 8km was most down hill to Santa Cruz. I cycled straight into the centre of town and sat on the steps of the church for 45 mins and watched the coming and going as people went to work.

 

 

Young boys selling pappers took a intrest in my bike, As I walked around the plaza In could hear them ringing the bell.

 

10am was a good time to reach the Chichicastengo Bomberios. It gave us plenty of time to exploure this mountian town. The Bomberios offered us a room on the first flour, to use for the night. Having now staied with so many Bomberios. It was about time to try out the firemens pole. So I did.

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We walked up into the centre of town. Outside the church ladies were selling flowers and next to the entrance an old lady was chanting and swinging a can of smoke.

 

Inside it has become very common to see people crawl on there knees on the way to the alter.

 

 

 

 

 

In the afternoon I got a haircut and a shave for Q$20.00 less than US$2.50.

DAY 447 CHICHICASTENGO – SOLOLA

START 7:30 FINISH 14:00 (24/05/16)

DISTANCE 31KM RIDE TIME 3H23

Today was another climbing day. We had two little mountians to get over. The first was to get us out of Chichicastengo, it was a little climb out then we went down on a steep windy road with many switch backs. To get round the corners the trucks and busses would cross right over to the other side of the road. On the way down you could see the road on the other side of the vallyknowing you would be heading straight back up. After reaching the top there was a great panoramic view looking down over Chichicastengo. Again we found ourselves cycling along the ridgeline. We were constaintly passing through little one road towns. Just before 12pm we got to the junction for the turn off to Atitlan. From here it was all down hiil to Solola.

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When we reached Solola, which sits on the side of the mountian overlooking the lake.

It was slowly been engolfed by cloud coming up from the lake 600 meters below. The Volcano you can normaly see was completely covered by cloud.

For a first on this trip we asked at the Bomberios for a place to camp and they refused us becouse they said they didn’t have enough space for us.

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So we were having a look through town, when we came across a car washed. We asked if we would be able to camp and they said it would be ok……….just come back at 6pm when they closed. So to kill a few hours we went and had a look around the centre of town. It is a little bit touristy.

DAY 448 SOLOLA – PANAJACHEL, LAGO ATITLAN

START 9:45 FINISH 12:00 (25/05/16)

DISTANCE 10KM RIDE TIME 0H49

Yesterday afternoon we couldn’t see inside the church becouse of a funeral. So this morning we went to have a quick look before leaving town. It seamed a more modern church with modern stain glass and plain interior.

After leaving the church we were aproched By a guy who said he was from the local media and asked if he could interview us. He made a quick call and 5 mins later a guy with a tv camera turned up, as well as a phatogapha from the local paper. Anja did all the speaking and translated my answers for me. We had to cycle round the square while they filmed us all. Afterwards they wanted to see some of our equiment. Anja and Radko got there stove out and when the tent started going up it drew in a small croward.

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This unexpected delay allowed us time to climb the clock tower that only opened at 9am. The steep wooden stairs took us up to the highest point around the Plaza. From a small round window at the top, It was a impresive site when I was looking straight out at a large Volcano.There was too much cloud and I couldn’t see the lake.

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It was 10km down to the lake Atitlan. From the lakeside very touristy town. The view across the lake is two huge Volcanos. Atitlan and San Pedro. We cheeked into a hotel for Q$65.00 a night and will stay here a few days to enjoy the lake.

 

DAY 449, 450, 451 &452 PANJACHEL REST DAYS.

This morning is my Birthday. When I opened my door I got a very nice surprise. Anja and Radko had been very thoughtful and gone to a lot of trouble finding some balloons , a candle, a birthday card and a small present.

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Inside the card was a message saying they were going to cook me French Toast for Breakfast. Normal I am up early……….I has been up all night with a doggie stomach. So after breakfast I spent the rest of my birthday in bed.

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We ended up staying Sunday as well as it was Anja’s turn at not feeling well. All morning we could hear Fireworks going off. On my walk up to the supermarket.

The road was blocked. There was a large Church pression. Outside certain bussines and houses they had built a altor. The pression would move from business to bussines stopping to pray at each and in between fireworks were been lit off.

 

 

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 The pressions finnally finished at the very nicely decorated church. On the way back to the hotel. I ran into a couple of groups dressed up with masks.

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At 5pm there was a power cut and the town slowly plunged into darkness. With power not been restored until 5 ½ hours later.

 

 

 

DAY453 PANAJACHEL – PATZUM

START 9:00 FINISH 17:45 (30/05/16)

DISTANCE 37KM RIDE TIME 4H29

After 5 nights in the hotel it was time to get back on the road. I had a bit of a late start becouse I was busy trying to upload videos to FaceBook, So Anja & Radko set off 30 mins ahead of me. The day started with a gradual and very beutful ride up the Right handside of the wide vally. We were boxed in by steep cliffs. All the way up to the first vilage posh houses had been build. They do get a wonderful view back to the Lake and of rhe Volcanos. After 10km I reached the first town not having cought up with A&R. I cycled in to the plaza and stopped for morning tea,

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Afterwards I went over and had a look at the church. It looked fine from the outside. Inside it was in the process of being restored. The floor was dirt and the back was completely open, .

It was another 5km before I cought A&R at the main view point overlooking the lake.

 

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For awhile ewe were cycling flat with a clear view of the lake on our right.Eventual we left the lake and started to climb again. In the afternoon we lost a lot of the 600 meter we had made in the morning when we desended sharply,,,,,,,,,,,,after crossing the river it was up and up again. We found ourselves high up in the mountians with long steep drop offs. No room for mistakes. We were moving from vally to valley.

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At one point the bridge had been washed away, as well as a big chunk of the road. We had to push our bikes through the river. It was a difficult roa to cycle. It was very rewarding becouse it was so senic. Having reached a platu at 2280m we had A nice flat bit to finish off the day. We arrived at the Bomberios and they have kindly given us a bed in one of the dormatries and the use of the kitchen.

to cycle. It was very rewarding becouse it was so senic. Having reached a platu at 2280m we had A nice flat bit to finish off the day. We arrived at the Bomberios and they have kindly given us a bed in one of the dormatries and the use of the kitchen.

DAY 454 PATZUM-ANTIGUA

START 8:00 FINISH 12:00 (31/05/16)

DISTANCE 48KM RIDE TIME 3H14

 

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We made really good time this morning arriving in Antigua before noon. On the way we had a really nice ride. From Patzum we cycled down to the bottom of the valley before climbing back up to a platu. Vegtibles and fruits were been growen everywhere. We rejoined the busy no 1 highway for Guatemala city. The only good thing was it was all down hill for at least 10km. We passed a Bus workshop with a bus that had been extintivly damaged. With the way the busses drive, it is not surprising they are in some bad accadents.

Antigua is a Unisco world hertige site. This old colenial town use to be the old capital of central america. It has a active volcano over looking the city. The city was destoryed by a Earthquake in the 1770’s Still many of the ruins remain. It draws in the tourists.

When we arrived in the Central Plaza………..there were tourists everywhere.

DAY 455&456 ANTIGUA REST DAYS

I got out of the hostel around 9am and started to exploure beautiful city. My plan was to exploure the east side of the city. I started by wondering up through the central plaza. Every street I turned into were the ruins of an old church from the 1773 earthquake. Found a old Lavendary on the edge of a park. Im sure it is still in use today. We have recently seen a lot of public lavendarys in the towns we have been cycling through. They seam happy places with all the women smileing chatting together.

I paied Q$7.00 to visit the ruins of the San Francisco Church and Convent. It was a big spraling site and I really enjoyed explouring it

In the evening we had a heavy thunder storm. The streets were flouded and I was thankful I was sleeping in the hostel and not a tent.

This morning after more then a month of cycling together. I said good bye to Anja and Radko who have decided to take a bus through El Salvador.

First thing I did this morning was to walk up to the view point above town. You get a great view of the city with the Volcano in the back ground.

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On the way back I passed throught the plaza and cought a cermonary out side the town hall. The police and army were all assembled out the front. At one point a lone protester with a small plackard got up and stood in front of the stage. It was a slint protest and she was just ignored. No atempt was made to move her.

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After lunch I visited the ruin of the day, which was the remains of the old cathedral.

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I was leaving Antigua today……..but at the very last moment I decided I would go off and climb a Volcano. I am so glad I did. We were a group of 16 mostly from United states, Australia and one from the Netherlands. We were driven up to 3100 meters, where we then started a 800 meter acent of a now extint Volcano Actenago. It was a steep climb that took us 5 ½ hours. At first we passed through farm land before entering a damp wet jungle. We found ourselves walking through the clouds for a while. Every now and then we would get a slight glimpse of one of the surounding Volcanos poking out of the cloud. The higher we got the harder it became to breath. Just trying to walk fast, would leave you exhausted. Coming out of the jungle we were then walking through a very sparsely pine forest. We arrived at our camping spot at 4:30pm The cloud was lifting. We had a perfect view of the nabouring Volcano De Fuego. We knew it was active. But we got the shock of our lives when within 10 minutes of putting our packs down. De Fuego had a eruption. We were left so excited and in Awe as the large cloud rose up into the air.

 

 

 

 We didn’t just get one eruption. In the 15 hours we had about 10 eruptions. In the night we could here the lava sliding down the mountian as well as rocks rolling down the side.

Our guides started a fire for us all to sit round. We were surrounded by volcanos and in the distance we could see the red glow of another active Volcano.

From our perch of 3900 meters on the side of the Volcano we could see a thunder and lighting storm in the distance. At 2:30am it arrived. We were surpose to get up at 3:30 am to sumit. But it was still raining hard and no one was moving from there tent.

When we got up at 7am. The rain had eased. Fuego was clear and you could see

smoke coming from the lava as it slowly moved down the mountian.

Going down was a lot easier then going up. But it was slippery and a few people ended up on there bum.

 

DAY 460 ANTIGUA – KM 139 LAGO

START 7:30 FINISH 16:45 (06/06/16)

DISTANCE 124KM RIDE TIME 6H59

I left Antigua, it was damp and over cast. There had been a fair bit of rain in the night and it was cool. I was a easy 10km out of townand then I reaped the reward of climbing all those mountians previously with a continious 40km down hill. Dropping quickly from 1600 meters to sea level. Straight away the humity returned with a vengance. I hadn’t at missed the humity while in the mountians. The land scape changed to sugarcane fields and Mills and lots of cattle.

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When I left Antigua I was 145km from the border. At the end of the day I was 26km. Which gave me a good chance to cross early into El Salvador and then get as far as way and quickly as possible from the border. It was a lot harder cycling in the afternoon with the humity. I kept pushing on. I passed the last town some 50km from the border. Thought I would try my luck. On the map was some lakes. Looked like a good place to stay. When I reached the lake. There was a restaurant at the top of the hill overlooking the lake. It was a great spot and I was keen to camp. The restaurant was all shut up. There was a security guard with a big gun. I asked him if I could camp and I thought he said yes. There were problems to come because an hour after I had set up my tent, he came and told me I couldn’t camp. Perhaps he had thought I was only going to rest. I wasn’t to happy to have to pack everything up and it was starting to get dark. I headed down the hill and I stopped at the first house I saw. The guy came to the gate and I asked if I could came and thankfully he said yes. His wife got me some cold water and a chair to sit down. They suggested I set my tent up under the porch. Which was just as well because there was again very heavy rain in the night. The rainy season has arrived.

 

 

 

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