11-20-2012, 06:16 PM
Joined: May 2010
Location: Interior BC, Canada
Nov 14 Into Guatemala
Got up this morning and decided Iíve had enough of the cold. The forecast was calling for fog but looking out the window blue sky . . . Iím outa here!
Get my bike out of the funky hole I had parked it in last night. The lady running the parking lot wanted me to park it in the carport next to the house/office. Great except you had to go through kind of a ditch to get in so was kinda parked the wrong way in a hole. Took a bit of jockeying to get it out.
Parked by the hotel - most of the streets are like this - some have more traffic. Notice the very nice smooth paving stones. Yessir, put a little water on those and you can have a couple of sphincter clenching moments going around corners. Yikes!
Since Iíll be doing a border crossing today, I wanted an early start but then I discovered my GPS wasnít working. Took me until 9:30 to get going Ė a bit past when I wanted to leave if I was going all the way to San Pedro at Lake Atitlan.
Road to the border turned out to be nice and fairly fast Ė figured it I could get to the border by 12:30, though both sides in half hour to 45 minutes Ė Iíd have a good 4 hours to do the 200+ km to San Pedro. Piece of cake . . .
So, on most trips I keep all my receipts that I accumulate along the way but since this trip is fairly long and could generate substantial paper, I decided to purge the paper pretty aggressively.
Little did I know that the Mexico Migracion guy wouldnít stamp my passport out unless I could prove I paid for the Tourist Visa when I entered from the US. Of course I didnít have that receipt figuring that the stamp on the damn Visa card was enough. The guy at the other end wonít stamp it until you present him with a receipt showing you paid for it.
So he told me to go back to the governmentís Banjercito and see if they can find a record of my paying. Since the original guy had me pay at a private bank, they didnít have a record. So, I had to cough up another $20 or so and get another receipt. Thought about just ignoring the exit stamp out but when I got to the Guatemala side, the guy couldnít find my exit stamp and wasnít going to stamp me into Guatemala till I showed him where it was. Save a trip back to the Mexican side.
I arrive at the Guatemalan Aduana (to check in my bike), lady said I had to do the passport thing first which was right next door. Took less than 5 minutes to stamp my passport and when I returned to the Aduana, the lady had gone to lunch.
So, now Iím about 2 Ĺ hours behind schedule. But I still figure I can be most of the way in to San Pedro if not all the way in by nightfall.
After working my way down about a kilometer of this permanent market madness with people, Tuc Tucs and scooters flying all over the place, I finally got on the road.
Along the way in Guatemala, typical vegetable stands along the road
Girl tending her sheep grazing on the roadside
The ride down was wild. Started off with some incredibly spectacular rugged and huge mountains. First 100 km was just an extended town Ė went on forever with tope after tope (They actually call them Tumulos in Gutemala) and crazy traffic that required passing. Passed a few hotels along the way but still figured Iíd be ok for time . . . you can see where this is going, canít you.
Arrived at the turnoff just at dark. Thought I had about 10km to get to San Pedro. Turned out I had 27 km to go with a drop of 2500 feet of altitude, most of which was in the last 10km. Most of the road seemed to be potholes connected by the odd bit of pavement. Uncountable switchbacks. Lots of Tuc Tucss going up and down the hill. Itís amazing watching them go through these pretty big pot holes (bomb craters) on their little 8Ē wheels.
Come around one corner and it was a spectacular night view of the lakes and you could see all the little towns lit up . . . a long ways down.
You may recall I have a rule about riding at night . . . needless to say, I was a bit tense when I eventually arrived in San Pedro about an hour and a half late. And, yes dear , I am an idiot!
Find my way into San Pedro looking for a couple of hotels I had jotted down. Figured most of them should be down by the lake so, just keep going downhill. I stop to get my bearings and a guy pulls up on a scooter asks what Iím looking for? And I tell him Iím looking for a hotel. He hollers ďfollow meĒ and hauls ass around the corner Ė by the time Iím approaching, heís doing a power slide with the scooter and runs to open a gate and wants me to pull my bike in. Have a look at the place Ė it is fine Ė less than $10. No internet but thatís ok.
I need a beer!
- RexBuck's Latin America
Information on travelling in Latin America.
Includes links to ride reports to Mexico and to South America