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Old 07-04-2012, 05:01 PM   #76
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I've heard nothing but good about Guatemala and the Guats. Hope you guys have a great time there. That lake looks wonderful. Is there swimming and boating on it?
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Old 07-04-2012, 07:57 PM   #77
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I've heard nothing but good about Guatemala and the Guats. Hope you guys have a great time there. That lake looks wonderful. Is there swimming and boating on it?
There is definitely boating. Haven’t seen much swimming.. Too dirty I think. Yes, this place is fun. Tomorrow we’re going to explore some other small towns from here with the bikes and then head to Antigua in a few days. I finally went portrait hunting this afternoon.

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Old 07-05-2012, 06:34 AM   #78
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Nice catch too.
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Old 07-08-2012, 08:21 PM   #79
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July 5, 2012 - We went for a ride to Solola and onwards to San Pedro la laguna, on the other side of Lake Atitlan. It's a long detour, with the hope of finding another small untouched place without tourists.

Solola was our first stop. Only 8 kilometers from the lake, it has retained practically all its old charm since 1994, as per Jan's assessment.

The market certainly was authentic, with not a tourist in sight.



The town centre is small but charming.



An initially curious onlooker stares into the lens with suspicion.



Although the ride had some highlights, it was a struggle over bad terrain in some places. There was not much to see in San Pedro la laguna and before long we turned around to head back home.

As we approached the dockside, a quirky Irishman introduced himself. He was on a bit of a ride himself, on a step-through scooter. He'd started in Alaska and was heading for Argentina.



For a change we felt like the sane ones.
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Old 07-08-2012, 09:19 PM   #80
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Old 07-10-2012, 10:21 PM   #81
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July 8, 2012 - We've landed in Antigua, a town famed for its architecture and authentic feel. It's located close to an active volcano, visible from most places downtown.

At first blush the town felt like a more refined version of San Cristobal de las Casas, in Mexico. That feeling vanished as time went on.



The town is laid out in a grid pattern, with cobblestone streets and very little to no commercial signage to speak of. Even the menus displayed on small tripods in restaurant doorways seem to be burdened by legislation. Despite that, it is possible to find McDonalds, Burger King and Ralph Lauren perfume within a stone's throw from the main square.



Antigua is mostly made up of low-slung buildings and surprisingly few churches or other larger structures. It gives the place a bit of a medieval prison like feel, certainly because the inhabitants have a penchant for locking down everything at night to prepare for a siege. Even during the day, business is transacted through gated protection. Not only by pharmacists and banks, but even the local "panaderia" (baker) fears a hold up mid-day. Guards with pump action shotguns linger around most stores.



Below is picture of an old centralized laundry area, now no longer in use.



A random street shot.



The best part for me on this stay were the photo opportunities during the Miss Guatemala elections which were being held the weekend we were there. Since there wasn't a single SLR-wielding lunatic scurrying between the various participants to snap pictures, I felt it my duty to jump in and act the part.



I never quite figured out if the ladies in the horse and carriage combos were finalists or representing the various regions in Guatemala.





They certainly didn't seem to mind the attention though.



At the end of the day, the best picture I took was one of a girl in the park.



We even saw some other overlanders in Antigua.



Antigua was a bit of a disappointment, to be honest. The atmosphere was distinctly focused on tourists and not laid back at all. Although the architecture was certainly impressive, it was very much the same all over, to the point that getting lost in Antigua was more the rule than the exception. The central area of Antigua is beautifully restored, for a purpose.

It all felt a bit too made up, like movie sets, with expensive restaurants and stores wedged in what once were rustic courtyards where people lived their lives and chickens ran amok. If you want "pretty", then Antigua will not disappoint, but if you want genuine, San Cristobal de las Casas is my clear favorite.
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:07 AM   #82
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Even the menus displayed on small tripods in restaurant doorways seem to be burdened by legislation.
What do you mean burdened by legislation?
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:28 AM   #83
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What do you mean burdened by legislation?
They were all small, without screaming ads. Mostly in small type fonts. It was very odd.
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Old 07-11-2012, 07:34 AM   #84
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the law there demands small menus?
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Old 07-11-2012, 05:14 PM   #85
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Small signs, like in Vail Co.
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Old 07-17-2012, 06:08 PM   #86
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July 11, 2012 - On the 9th we left for Tikal via Coban. The roads were lovely and just at the end of day one to Tikal, my bike died.

We'd decided to break up the ride in two days as it was just too far. Coban was our place of choice to stop. The roads in the interior were fantastic. Riding through lush green forests on perfect tarmac.



All along the way we passed through small villages with their usual blend of "tiendas", little mom and pop shops and new advertising for the local cell phone monopoly. Kids, dogs and the odd cow meander through the streets at will. The remarkable thing the last few years is that no matter where you go in the world, people are mesmerized by their mobile device screens, deep in thought as to what to reply next to their Facebook friends. More often than not, we rolled past police check points where three or four officers were too engaged with their LCD screens to notice us until the last minute, at which point we'd already rolled past and weren't volunteering to stop.

I did manage to snap a picture of some kids playing the old fashioned way.



A day ride in Guatemala would not be complete without a landslide.



This was a lot more precarious than the picture reflects.



In the afternoon of our first day north, we stopped in Coban at the central square looking for a place to stay when my bike refused to start again. A few minutes later I'd figured out it was either the ignition module or the timing sensor. We found a hotel and I pushed the bike around the block. All my fastidious archiving of old BMW trivia came in handy and shortly thereafter I'd figured out what the issue was. Luckily I had a spare ignition module with me and I was rolling again an hour afterwards.

We arrived early on the second day in Flores, a small town on an artificial island an hour outside of Tikal. It was very laid back, but with a decent amount of tourists.



The next day we visited Tikal, a "de rigueur" stop in Guatemala. We took a tourist minivan and left the bikes at the hotel. It was way too hot to ride and then walk around in gear at the site. Unfortunately, the guy managing tourists in the minivan said: "And today, my friends, I will speak to you about Tikal ... our history very important, because I want to practice my Engrish with you". And so started an hour long monologue about Tikal, religion and who knows what else. We were reminded again as to why we never use organized travel options.



There are more pictures of Tikal from the "Slideshows" tab.

The next day, we headed out to Honduras.
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Old 07-17-2012, 10:01 PM   #87
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July 12, 2012 - Our next stop was Honduras. Despite all the warnings I'd heard about lengthy border crossings, things went pretty smooth, if a bit drawn out.

Our only true stop in Honduras was Copan Ruinas, right across the border from Guatemala. The cobble stones were gigantic and the streets improbably steep. Copan Ruinas is the town right next to the Copan ruins, our goal for the next day.



Fresh fruit shakes prepared from the back of a truck.



The town is small and a few tourist spots are compressed around the main square.



I finally found the statue called "why is there so much noise?", expressing a desire for silence in a country rife with competing boom boxes from clapped out cars and nonsensical blaring stereos in empty establishments trying to attract tourists. Causality is not well understood in most of Central America I think.



The first thing we spotted at the Copan ruins were these guys.



The Copan ruins are a lot smaller than Tikal, but in a lot of ways far more enjoyable. There were masks and faces, larger statues as well as monumental structures. Tikal is grander, less refined but maybe more impressive at first sight. Although it's hard to compare, the Copan ruins felt like Banteay Srei, a smaller set of temples in the Angkor Wat set. Exquisite and intricate without trying to dominate in size.





From Copan Ruinas, we went to Comayagua, a nice little town where we arrived too late in the day. We enjoyed the main square briefly and were then urged by the hotel to park our bikes in a gated compound down the street. At night there wasn't a single vehicle to be seen in town, which gave pause. In the hotel rankings, the place we stayed in here ranked at the bottom of the list so far on this trip.

The next day we headed into Nicaragua.
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Old 07-26-2012, 10:09 PM   #88
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July 14, 2012 - Nicaragua was the next country on the list. Not much planned here, mainly we're treating it as a transit country.











In Costa Rica we'll slow down again and start to seriously focus on crossing the Darien Gap between Panama and Columbia. The border crossing into Nicaragua again was a sleepy affair, the last in the series, as crossing from Nicaragua into Costa Rica is your classical border nightmare, with hours long lineups, a convoluted process to say the least and "helpers" besieging you from all sides.

As in Guatemala, our bikes needed to go through "fumigation".



Clearly spraying half a tire and a few bits of the bike is not really going to do the job, but I guess it's steady employment to fight a mystery ailment.

We pushed on to a place called Sebaco. We ended up in a love motel, found all over Central America. People take their infidelity serious here. The love motels are all shielded from the main road, in that you need to drive into one to see any cars parked. Most of these places have a garage right next to the room you are renting, so you never need to be seen outside. It was somewhat comical and we embarrassed one younger couple by showing up.

The next day, I got up early and pushed on to Costa Rica. Jan was taking it easier and was going to Managua.
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Old 07-27-2012, 07:07 AM   #89
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I wonder if it's infidelity or virginity. AFAIK, the area is still serious Catholic and thus, if my speculation is correct, a bride is worth a good deal less if non-virginal. So any sex she may wish to do cannot be done where it may be discovered.

If the people there were young, that reinforces my hypothesis. An infidelity motel would have older folks.
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Old 07-27-2012, 01:11 PM   #90
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i am refering to post #3, is this an austrian number plate by any chance? beiing that i am austrian myself!
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