July 4, 2012 - The ride out of Mexico was splendid. The roads were good and the landscape appreciably greener and more diverse versus earlier in Mexico. Only in the last few days in Chiapas did we really enjoy the riding. It got dramatically better the closer we got to Guatemala.
Leaving Mexico was very smooth. We cashed in our temporary vehicle import papers and got stamped out of Mexico in a matter of twenty minutes. A little further, we were stopped for "fumigation" of our motorcycles before we went to customs and immigration on the Guatemalan side. The fumigation didn't amount to much more than sprinkling our tires with some water-based solution as far as we could tell. Any street dog could have done better, free of charge.
We changed some money at the border and started the rest of the process after customs returned from their lengthy lunch break.
Getting into Guatemala was a twenty minute affair as well. We were a little nervous as the lineup at the bank where you needed to pay the various entry fees for the bike was getting longer by the minute, an hour prior to opening. It turned out that tourist fees were collected outside of opening hours, to the visible dismay of people in line.
The border wasn't a watertight affair, as Jan walked across to get some snacks as we waited.
Right away we were carving through the curves in deep canyons on smooth tarmac. What a difference from Mexico!
Our first stop was Huehuetenango, on the way to Panajachel on Lake Atitlan. People are friendlier here, with shouts of "hello" from the backs of scooters zooming by and people on the street eager to start a conversation. The next day we set out to Panajachel. We stayed off the main road and enjoyed more twisties. On the way, we stopped for lunch in Chichicastenango.
We didn't escape all the landslides and this one threatened to hold us up "por una hora" but fifteen minutes later we were back on the road.
Lake Atitlan came in sight a good half hour before we arrived in Panajachel.
A lazy dinner at the lakeside the same evening.
The next few days we're planning on some excursions by motorcycle to neighboring towns before we head for Antigua.