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Dec. 1 - 5, 2011, Day 52 - 56, GUATEMALA

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DAY 52, Dec. 1, 2011, Guatemala Border / Quetzaltenango, Temp 8 to 25C (350/8725km)

San Cristobal to Comitan was filled with Mountain living and Topes (30 for 80km).  C4R7T5V7.  David and I found it interesting how the further South in Mexico you go the cleaner and more developed the cities became especially in Chiapas state.
The back of the shop in the background is actually on stilts
to be close to the hwy, I guess.
Fully loaded

Comitan to the Guatemalan border at Las Champas.  C6R7T3V7.  Good piece of road with long distance mountain views.

Went through the Mexican check out for the bike and me.  I had to pay a stupid tax as I didn't keep my receipt showing I paid to get in the country which is bullshit.  It is not possible for me to have my tourist card and import a bike through Mexico with out paying when I crossed from the US.  Not wanting to hold us up I paid and it was on to Guatemala to check in.  A fake detour lead us through the first of two markets with people all over the place.  A shock for sure, but once we settled in to a parking spot it was really easy!
See stats page for border info.

Getting information on which
buildings to go to.
Very busy border

Migracion for Guatemala

Excited about getting through the Guatemalan Border

Road in to Guatemala started well and then filled with towns, tumulos (speed bumps) and some pot holes and waterfall wash outs.  C5R5T6V7.

Making tracks in to Guatemala

Chicken Bus, the cheaper option to get through
the country

Road side works wondering
about these fully suited dudes
speeding by.

Road through the mountains towards Quetzaltenango

Arrived in Quetzaltenango know as Xela (Sheala), which seemed rough and chaotic at first, but once we found the hostel ($14 each which at the time I thought was super cheap, see Honduras / Nicaragua) and went out for amazing Tapas ($10 for a good fill) we realized how good this town was.  

Dona Mercedes Hostel, very good value.

Quetzeltenango (Xela) Center

DAY 53, Dec. 2, Panajachel on Lago de Atitlan, Temp 10 to 25, Max elevation: 3000m (100/8825km)

Xela to Pana was fantastic.  One of the best road conditions on my trip starting at 1500m and crossing 3000m and back down to 1500m at the lake.  Two lanes all the way in to the clouds with stunning views (access to Pana is not great for 20km, but good curves).  C7/8R8T3V9.  Check it out...

45 deg fields

Volcanos on the lake

Riding Side Saddle

Chasing Dave to Pana

Riding in the clouds

In Pana we grabbed this amazing hotel Jardinis del Lago by recommendation ($36 each) right on the Lake.  It was really nice, but unfortunately they had claimed to have WiFi in the rooms and didn't in the end.  So, after getting screwed around on WiFi at most of the more expensive hotels I lost it and got my money back and left David there for the night.  I would have been happy with a discount, but they went for the whole refund.  Stayed at Larry's Place for $14 instead (no wifi, but saved $22). 

Surrounded by locals with questions about the bike. 

view from room of hotel I did not
stay at through the night

Cute kids happy playing
Kids working the streets
Pana Harbour, yikes
Discussing how much their photo was worth.
$1, every model has to start somewhere.


Or Yes?  In the end I walk away
 from this seller and his $4 price tag!
I'm thinking Adoption?

I love looking at this Cutie, Sabrina.
Unfortunately her mother's email
 didn't work so I couldn't send her
 the photos
DAY 54, Dec. 3, Santa Cruz on Lago de Atitlan, Temp 28C, High Altitude Dive

Met Leda the night before at her little food stand on the street.  Ate well and got to chatting about diving.  Some how we figured out with my poor Spanish and no English that she could get us both a dive for the same price as what I was paying for one.  So, 7 am she was waiting patiently in front of my Hotel and we were off to Santa Cruz by boat to the only Dive shop on the lake (Ati Divers, great guys).

Arriving at the Santa Cruz dock I was immediately happy.  Ati divers operating out of Hotel la Iguana Perdida was very well run.  After the dive I was not able ride up in altitude for 24 hours so brought David back later to stay the night at the great Hotel!  

During our dive we were the subject for a Guatemala Tourism video for diving at the lake.  Perfect, but no discount and in the end I had to pay $30 for the dive which was ok.  It turns out my Spanish is even worse than I thought as Leda didn't come to dive, she just came to help me get a good price, but had no leverage at all as this was a proper shop and not a couple Guatemalans free diving from a dock.  Regardless she enjoyed herself a lot although she was kicked off the boat for the Tourism video later joining when the film  crew got the footage they needed and left us to the real diving.  Not much to see on the dive as we didn't go to the thermal cracks underwater (which was on the second dive, urgh), but I experienced a high altitude fresh water dive and the pressure increases associated. 

Dive intro video


The scene was to show us submerging.
I could have used more weight.

Me, Max, Andy, Andy
and camera dude

Check out the Volcano behind us

Cute little Leda along for the ride, thanks for the photos.
 Dive Entry for Tourism Guatemala

Leda Lunch and the streets of Panajachel

Full boat to Santa Cruz

View from dinner at La Iguana
A friendly game of Apples to Apples
 (Alex, Max, Andy, Me, Ross, Hannah, Yonnie)

DAY 55, Dec. 4, Temp 26C,  Antigua Guatemala, (100/8925km)

Woke to the open air which always helps when you have a had a couple the night before.  My stomach felt a bit off and I think drinking the lake water during the dive may have been a bad thing (see Honduras post).  The boat back to Pana was much faster as it was only David and I instead of a full one like the day before.

Open air dorm, Hotel La Iguana Perdida

Waiting for the ferry back to Panajachel

Brushing at Sea

After getting back on the bikes I got us a little lost, not lost, but on a tougher A to B path.  

Great views to start the day.  Instead of taking the road back towards CA-1 we pressed on with the advice of my GPS to find ourselves on a rough road with a river crossing.  C7R3T3V7.

Rough road

To No Road

How did this happen?  But fun.
Saw a bunch of  Marathon
  runners going up this tough hill.
Very tough hill!

GS through the River

Rough Road

Then I took us down an even better path around Patzun on the way back to CA-1 through Patzicia.  Oh GPS you are so funny...

Dirt road
Half dirt road

You want us to go where?

Down here!  We turned around as 600 lbs of bike was
not going to work on a footpath.

Finally we made it to Antigua after all the direction changes.  Even Antigua was hard to find as there was no sign!  Are you kidding me, no sign to the most popular town in the country?  May be I missed the sign. 

Excellent road from Chimaltenango to Antigua, C6R7T3V7
Parking the bike in El Hostel
Nice garden in el Hostel

Lots of Fire Cracking kids



I love this fountain, but why?
Oh, that's why

$5 for Mexican Mezcal and a beer.  $8 for the good stuff.
Always able to find a couple Aussies with bad
moustaches up for a drink.

Entrance to this section of the bar
at Cafe Paseo.

DAY 56, Dec.5, Chiquimula, Temp: 24 to 32C, Elevation 500m (230/9155km)

Tried for the Honduran Border today, but a slow go through Guatemala City and lots of traffic put us in Chiquimula for 4:30ish.  With 60km to go and sun down for about 5:45pm we opted to stay at Hotel Hernandez which is really the only good spot in town for $8ea!  WiFi, pool and right in the heart of the city.  Funny thing is it took a bit of time to find it as the front door is not huge in comparison to the hotel.  Check the video.

Great road to Guatemala City with 2 lanes through
 the mountains. C7R7T4V7/8.

Guat City looks easy enough, but it
wasn't.  GPS did alright.

Lunch stop after Guat city at
Paso Texas on the road side.
Again my spanish fails, but
happy with boiled beef and veg
as the stomach was starting to act

Rougher road on CA-9, C4R4T6/7V7.

Guatemalan Budweiser

Hotel Hernandez in Chiquimula

Night Market in Chiquimula

This powder dyes used for painting.

For reviews of Guatemala check out:

Other Stuff

Now we know what Paul Henry was doing after
 getting sacked at TVNZ

Chicken buses used by the locals and some travellers.  Not much for Emissions control.

Common to see protective trim on around car doors
in Guatemala.  Maybe because of Chicken Buses?
Just looks wrong to me.


Anonymous said...

Bon voyage Brad.


Anonymous said...

me gusta tu vida. amigo la procsima ves que regreses a honduras mi bebe osten y yo te vamos a acompaƱar a recorreer el mundo en motocicleta jajaja. bay