Guatamala

On 3 Nov 2019

Guatemala

Our iphone is not working as it got wet in Ginette’s top box, hence we have no camera other than the ipad. (It’s been drying in the sun on the bikes handle bars all day, hopefully the 33 degrees will sort it out).

We had a 10 mile cycle to the border, we did have a couple of missed photo shots such as a hand wheel operated ferry crossing a fast flowing river.

The border crossing was painless other than the charge of $20 American dollars each for exiting from Belize. The security guard that checked we had our passport stamped couldn’t answer a question I had about the Guatemalan border as he has never crossed and says he has no wish to ever cross into Guatemala.

 Ginette – there is no love lost between these two countries apparently they’re still in conflict regarding where the border is between the two countries.

We had another 40 odd miles to cycle to a lake area with lots of accommodation available. The route was winding and much hillier than anything we did in Belize or Mexico with some fairly steep climbs to do, but most of them were only short climbs.

The ride was enjoyable (until the last 10 miles when the old legs got tired) I was trying to understand why today was more fun, I think the winding road with hard shoulders, undulating hills and changing landscape plus the Spanish signs and Latino music from the shops we passed all went together to keep the mind occupied whilst cycling.

Ginette spotted a family of six on a motorbike, speaking of which there are far more motorbikes here than cars, and the traffic is light.

We arrived at El Renate just as the sun was going down over the lake making for some pretty views across the lake with thatched roofed huts on the pontoons. We tried a couple of hotels before settling on one by the lake, it was getting dark so it was only a matter of having somewhere to sleep and a reasonable priced restaurant to eat in. Unfortunately there was a local couple that had been drinking too much and had the restaurants huge music speaker right next to them so they had to shout at each over to be heard. The staff did turn the music down but had to do so a few times as the couple sneaked the volume up again, they were harmless but you never know how people will behave when they have had too much to drink so we didn’t stay long.

 Ginette – The highlands of Belize and Guatamala are very green and undulating. It is beautiful, we are both enjoying the cycling despite the fact that there is rubbish thrown outside of the towns. For some reason there appears to be piles of dirty nappies being dumped outside of the towns.  The Presbyterian and Baptist Churches have been replaced by Catholic churches. Apparently 60% of Guatemala are catholics but most are from Mayan descendants so to be on the safe side they also worship Mayan symbols and continue to celebrate mayan traditions. I love entering a new country and researching it’s history.

 

Very colourful cemeteries

4th Nov

Tikal Myan site.

We only had 20 miles to cycle but there were a lot of steep hills to climb so it wasn’t an easy ride.  At the half way point we entered the Tikal national park and spent the ride searching the trees for the Howler and Spider monkeys that live there.

The half way point was the gateway to the park and where we had to pay the fees to enter the Tikal Myan site, we had decided that this was a site we wanted to visit so knew in advance about the £15 each entrance fee. What was odd was that if you needed a guide you also had to book him from this entrance even though it was still 10 miles to the actual site. We eventually agreed to use a guide getting the price down from £20 each to £10 each, reasoning we had cycled out of our way to reach the site and we had not had a guide for the other sites.

Ginette – we agreed to meet the guide at our camp site leaving us one hour to cycle a very hilly jungle road. We made it but had no time for lunch so ended up eating biscuits on route. The guide was very informative but had no sense of humour, sticking purely to the facts. Perhaps if we’d paid full price the guide would have come with a sense of humour or perhaps he simply didn’t get our English humour. It wasn’t a problem he made up for this small imperfection by providing us a running commentary on the Mayan ruins, the wildlife and trees.

We really enjoyed learning about the Mayan history but we were both easily distracted by the spider monkeys, exotic birds and small mammals. I am sure if we had been free to wander on our own we would have spent more time playing find the monkey than looking at the ancient temples, which would have been a wasted opportunity as I am sure we will see more monkeys on route.

We managed to finish the tour with just enough time to put the tent up before it got dark. We pitched the tent in the Jamaican Inn gardens, it cost £10 which is a little expensive for a camp site but we had hot water and clean toilets so we’re not complaining.

Dinner was a simple affair of rice and vegetables followed by biscuits for dessert.

It is amazing to think that the Mayan’s built these amazing pyramids using man power alone.  The question I found myself asking is Why?? Why would you build solid pyramids, 70 feet high, the answer our guide gave was ‘so they could speak to their gods.’  Amazingly many, many miles away the Egyptians built similar structures (we are still convinced the aliens had some part in this). At the end of our visit we were left with more questions than answers. For example how could such an educated group of people have made so many advances in engineering, astrology etc and yet today the very same people live in poverty in rural shacks. Our guide tried to help our troubled minds and said the elite people dispersed and with them the knowledge leaving only the common people. 

We pass lots of homes that look just like the one in the pictures below, very basic compared to the ancient monuments in Tikal.

6th Nov

Woken by Howler monkeys 

It was a reasonably cool last night and no rain but it was hard to sleep as our tent was by the hotel and the other guests sat chatting outside untill late. We were then woken at 04.00 by the howls of a few Howler monkeys in the forest.

The ride back through the Tekal national forest was taken slowly whilst we checked out both sides of the forest for wild life, cycling with anticipation of seeing some more monkeys.

We didn’t see any Monkeys but the forest was full of bird noise and branches creaking or breaking. We did see more of the following

Toucans
Coutes (a bit like raccoons)
A bird of prey that looked like an Owl
Redbreasted large bird

Once out of the park we had a 30 mile ride to Flores, I was feeling a bit queasy today so was glad of a shorter ride. we cycled past an airport on route and was serenaded by one of the military guards in a watch tower who was happily singing away to himself.

Flores is a little island on a lake that is connected to the mainland town of Santa Elena.  We cycled through Santa Elena, it’s a built up town but not a city size, we needed to find an ATM. It is a busy town with a big market and a new shopping mall on the outskirts complete with a Burger King.

Once we headed over the causeway to Flores the vibe and clientele changed to a pretty little tourist island. This place is fairly small and apparently you can walk it’s circumference on 20 minutes, it’s a small circular island.

We stopped at the first hostel “ Green World” but being a tourist area the prices were high, they let us use the internet to search elsewhere but whilst searching offered to discount a double room down from £20 to £15 a night so we agreed to stay.

I was a bit weary so we didn’t really look around much but even so I think we covered half the island.  Living on an island, oh boy we’re having fun.

6th Nov

In the morning I felt better but we decided to have a rest day as this place is nice and we haven’t really seen it.

So a day of no cycling, very little walking, a bit of shopping and bike maintenance, truing Ginette’s back wheel and tightening up bolts.

Felling chilled except for the researching we tend to do when stationary in a WiFi spot, it would be much more relaxing if we had no WiFi

Ginette – I didn’t necessarily need a rest day, but Gary was clearly tired, he had a rash on his hands and he was a little achy. We checked the rash out at the pharmacy and it didn’t appear to be anything of any concern. The pharmacist prescribed some cream and it appears to be working.

7th Nov

16 miles in the wrong direction but a bonus of Howler monkeys.

We had a 42 mile ride to do to a town called Sayaxche, at least we would have had if I hadn’t missed the turn at a broken bridge meaning adding a detour of an 16 mile round trip.

The initial terrain from Flores was cattle country with big ranches, lots of cows and felt like cycling through Hertfordshire. However the houses are becoming more shack like and the poverty is clear to see. The women and men are starting to dress more rural, we saw more local stalls and at one drink stop witnessed an eight year old carring a pot of peeled corn to the back of the shop only to walk back out 5 minutes later with the corn now ground into a bread type paste but was now a 60 year old women, we were just commenting on how quickly they age around here when the eight year old also came back out so it turns out this was not an accelerated ageing zone but really two people.

At the 8 mile point of the wrong turn, we discovered we had gone wrong when chatting to a Hundorian man with excellent English, he was very chatty and we learnt a lot about his personal life and his countries politics but also that we were in the wrong town – Doh.

Cycling back we had the good fortune to hear and see howler monkies in the trees right near the roadside, the noise was weird and at first we thought it was some sort of mechanical digger in the woods. After this we also spotted a very large but dead Tarantula, early in the day we spotted another dead coral snake.

We are receiving a few more stares in this area so I guess cycle tourists are not very common here.

Ginette – this is mainly due to the fact that we took a wrong turn and the area we were heading for was up towards the Mexican border a real no go area. So understandably not many middle aged cyclists choose to cycle this route.

On the approach to Sayaxche and back on the correct route we spotted another monkey just above us in the tree line, he had a few others with him so we stopped and filmed them for a while.

To get over the river to Sayaxche we had to cross the river by ferry, as did all the other traffic on this main road, we were able to use a smaller motorbike ferry and the process was quick and easy.

This town had a real frontier feel to it, it’s not a frontier town but had lots of little snack shacks blaring music and an edgy feel to it. We booked in to a bit of a dump of a hotel but it’s possibly better than a tent.

Ginette – I would not have chosen to stay in this hotel, but Gary was tired and it was clear he would not have been impressed if I’d turned it down and moved onto another hostal/hotel. There were huge cobwebs on the wall, no water, no toilet roll, no towels (all of which were provided when we asked but were of poor quality). Personally I think the tent would have been better.

I have not been enjoying the cycling for a while now, it’s not just the cycling it’s the routine of riding, finding somewhere to stay and finding something to eat, we are travelling through interesting areas but they are not floating my boat, there is an old saying about having to much of a good thing and I think I have reached that stage.

We have been chatting about this tonight and will see how we both feel once our Christmas and new year break is over in Cabo San Lucas with Hayley. We have the whole world as a playground we just need to see what toys we want to play with next.

Ginette – I’m enjoying the cycling but agree, we are getting to a stage in our adventure when we are seeing the same, same but different.

8th Nov
Hey Gringo and Gringa

A hot sweaty night with no air conditioner only a fan that barely blew.

The road out of Sayaxche went through a national park so we cycled along with the usual anticipation of wildlife encounters, plenty of noises but no sightings but it’s still fun cycling these exotic areas.

As we travelled through cattle country we could here the distinctive call of Howler monkeys but these were way in the distance.

We did have a gert big live Tarantula walk in front of us, we managed to film him getting annoyed with me trying to get it to move to show it was alive and to move away from my bike.

A lot of the ladies and girls are wearing the same type of blouse and long pleated skirt, they are not keen on having their photos taken but I think we have sneaked a few shots, we spotted one young lady in the pleated skirt walking her piglet on a string lead.

We have had a lot of breaks today, the weather has been threatening storms all day and we have had to shelter several times, once at an open well covered with a shelter. This area is very rural and the towns tiny, but we did found a small but very busy market town complete with bus station, this little stretch of road was at odds with the rest of the day’s quiet riding.

We stopped in a mountainous area although we are winding our way around valleys at present, we have seen a few people busy in the fields but lots more sitting in there homes with there families. We have been shouted at along the route Gringo and Gringa in a friendly manner but going through the last few towns such as El Cruce the calls stepped up as it appeared the whole villages children got really excited by seeing two mad cycling Gringos passing through their village, some groups turned the Gringo call into a singing chant that was still going long after we had passed. This was really cute and we tried to film this reaction to us but it’s difficult as you don’t know when these impromptu calls will come.

We camped behind a petrol station at San Antonio, it’s not the prettiest spot but at least we had a dry place and we were not in the forest with Ginette’s favourite Spiders.

Ginette – finding the petrol station was a real bonus, we had somewhere safe to camp, just the rain set in for the evening. As an added bonus the petrol station had a shop/cafe where we could look at emails and have a beer and crisps (dinner).

9th Nov

Off-road up in the mountains with only the locals.

A wet night last night and the discovery that the tent ground sheet leaks near my head, we hung the wet stuff up but the sun was shy so we couldn’t dry it all.

We had 52 miles to reach our destination but we knew that there were some hills to climb so we weren’t sure if we could do this in a day.

The first set of climbing wasn’t to bad, it had some steep bits but we were coping well. We past lots of small villages with shack shops so supplies were readily on hand, we still had a few Gringo calls but not as intense as yesterday’s village.

During one hill climb the tarmac abruptly stopped and left us with a very steep rubble road to climb, there was no way we could cycle it. We stopped to check we hadn’t taken a wrong turn and was slightly reassured when other transport also past us including the local buses.

This road kept going higher and at times I had to park my bike and help Net push hers up some of the rockier steeper sections.

We managed to wave down a truck and had a lift for 5 miles with the locals also thumbing a lift from him so several stops letting people on and off, one middle aged women was really chatty and funny but we have no idea what she said.

I am not sure what language they are using in this mountain area but it doesn’t sound like Spanish and Ginette can’t even order a drink of water using her well practiced Spanish.

The truck stopped at the guys shack/shop and we still had a long way to go, the family were interested in us and our bikes and let us take photos of them all.

Setting off again and we were pushing more than cycling due to the bad road condition. We tried getting lifts again with every vehicle that past us and even tried to engage someone to drive a parked truck but couldn’t get our message across. Hence we struggled all afternoon pushing our bikes up and down steep rocky tracks.

The people’s faces as we come past their village is a picture, Ginette was walking in front so I would get to see the families walk out of there shacks onto the road to watch her walking off in the distance. I wonder what they must of thought as it would appear that not many Gringos pass this way.

We camped in the corner of a football pitch near a school and church, this place appears to have no houses near it but as soon as we started putting the tent up we had an audience of 4 or 5 kids. Once we started cooking we then also had granny and mum watching us to see what the weird Gringos were cooking, we were celebrity chefs.

When the sun went down we had an insect firework display, the football pitch and surrounding trees had fire flies dancing their little flashes of light for us. It was quite a sight and when you add in the jungle noises it was quite a good camp site.

I am sure Ginette will have a lot to say about today, it would appear that off road cycling is not her favourite pastime and I don’t think she is keen on my chosen route.

Ginette – I will bite my tongue at this stage, however the previous day I did mention the road was bad and asked Gary to check it several times. I found it really frustrated pushing a bike in the heat however there was no point complaining so rather than whinge I accepted the terrain as part of our adventure. My frustration was mainly directed at my ability to cycle off road. I learnt to cycle properly as an adult so I’ve never had a mountain bike or cycled off road and find it really hard. I think Gary would probably have cycled 40% of the route where together we are managing 10%.

We chose to camp on the football pitch because we ran out of light but I will leave you with this thought – how do you go to the toilet when you are the villages star attraction?

10th Nov

Lanquin at last.

Although we were sleeping on the edge of a village the night calls from the jungle still woke Ginette several times whilst I slept through it all.

Ginette – how anyone can sleep through howler monkeys calling out in the middle of the night is beyond me. I didn’t mind, I enjoyed listening to the jungle but my bladder didn’t like the fact that I refused to go out for a wee. I could hear all sorts of noises and there was no way I was going out to explore in the dark.

Gary’s hearing seems to be getting worse, we often have cross words because he can’t hear me and I have to repeat myself. He thinks my tone is harsh when he hears me but it may be the 3rd or 4th time I have asked a question or commented on something. I often say something and then a minute later Gary will say the same thing expecting a comment, not realising that I’ve already made the same observation. I am trying to raise my voice to help him but it does not come naturally.

We only had a short stretch of 4 miles to the village of Campur but we still had a lot of pushing on the rough track to do, it had rained in the night so we also had puddles (the whole path was a puddle) and slippery rocks to deal with.

Just as we approached the village the road became concrete sealed so were able to cycle, it was bliss. The village was small but had a few shops and a little more traffic, we couldn’t see any obvious bus stops so after buying some stock we set off on our new sealed road as we only had 13 miles to do, initially we had a really steep section to get out of town and as we reached the top the sealed road ended, and our hearts sank as well. We opted now to wait and try to blag a lift from a passing van. We tried a few and ended up getting an offer of a lift to the cross road turning for Lanquin which saved us for 5 miles.

We had to wait on the back of the truck for 30 minutes before the driver set off, passing the time trying to communicate with the young boy passengers. As soon as the truck rounded the first bend the sealed road appeared again, bloody typical we both thought, but it disappeared on and off for the trip so we took the right decision.

Once dropped off we had another 7 miles left and it looked like it was going to be all down hill but on another rough track.

The going was not as hard as the other days as it was all down hill but a lot of it was too steep and rocky for our loaded touring bikes so we were still doing a lot of walking.

We arrived in Lanquin around 2 pm having had to push up a last few hills to the town centre.

Ginette – I have to confess to being hot, knackered and stroppy. Several locals stopped us to offer us trips to various tourist destinations and accommodations. I was not interested, all I wanted was a cold drink and to rest. We stopped in a cafe and a lovely cold glass of lemonade and Gary ordered a pizza. Due to the lack of toilet facilities at the football ground I felt really uncomfortable, all I wanted was a private loo and a bed to rest on.

We booked into a really nice hotel called Vista Verde, it even had a pool. However the track to the hotel was up a steep but paved track, we had to both push one bike at a time up to the reception. Later in the day we sat in the bar as others arrived puffing and panting from getting up the slope, as we sat smuggly watching.

On 11 Nov 2019

Semuc Champey swimming in waterfalls.

So as old farts we were laid up in bed trying to sleep while the hotel and neighbouring hotels partied the night away, individually we both woke and thought about joining them and promptly fell back asleep, party animals we are not.

Ginette – in fairness we had spent the previous 2 nights camping and spending the days pushing our bikes in the heat of the day we were well and truly knackered and asleep by 9pm.  The party went on to well past 2am each time I thought I’d get up and join them, I thought they’ll probably be finishing soon so I’d roll over and go back to sleep.  

Guatemala beer is very strong it is called Gallo, after 2 cans I just want to sleep.

We have opted not to use the hotels tour services and make our own way to Semuc Champey, we had a wander around the local market all the time hassled by locals wanting to take us to the river resort, in the end we found a truck full of locals about to set off and haggled the price down to £2 each (Probably still a lot more than the locals are paying). Once on board we traveled 50 feet and was transferred onto another truck, at the time it was empty but as it drove along it stopped at another hotel to pick up another load of tourists.

We had considered walking back from Semuc Champey but the truck ride was if anything worse than the previous few days so we were grateful to not be walking, rough roads lots of mud and puddles but also a lot of truck traffic which would make the walking pretty rubbish

The waterfalls
A short walk through the jungle path led us to the lower pools, the water falls are just slow trickles over a wide band of rocks but the pools are large clear areas that look like inviting swimming pools.

We carried on walking past a approx 5 levels of these large pool areas, some also had lots of little pools around them.

At the very top area there was a huge fast moving mass of water, it was disappearing under the area I was standing in, there was no way you would want to get into this beast, the pools all below us are fed from this river but are far calmer and safer.

Ginette was looking most unimpressed and frankly a bit unhappy, we stripped off and waded into the tranquility of the top pool. The little fish came and started nibbling our feet straight away and Net wasn’t even very keen on this.
I knew she had expected a bit more and wanted to be able to go down each pool area from the top to bottom, so I left her to gather her thoughts and explored this possibility.

Ginette – I had seen the pictures and had looked forward to hiking up to the mirador but unfortunately this was closed. I’d read lots of blogs that had stated how great the waterfalls would be but to be honest I was hugely underwhelmed by the tourist site.  Realising I was being silly I gave myself a good talking to and sat in the water to let the fish eat my feet (my mind tells me this experience is wrong but to be honest I quite like the sensation). When Gary returned, I was keen to experience what the waterfalls had to offer and although not the exhilarating experience I had been hoping for it turned out to be good fun.

I was a bit nervy as no one else was trying to do this and the rocks were very slippery but I managed to navigate a way down all the different pool levels. I had to walk back up the track to Net.

Fortunately by the time I had completed this little adventure Ginette had relaxed and was up for a challenge, she came with me down the slippery slopes not all the different pool levels. It wasn’t the safest thing to try to do, but I think the worse that could have happened was we would have ended up with a few cuts and bruises if we slipped.

Adrenaline rush over and pack lunches done we headed back in the back of a truck, these are so easy to catch and nearly as exciting as the waterfalls.

Back in town we picked up snacks and beer for twice the price of areas outside this tourist trap and planned to spend the rest of the day chilling in our nice hotel.

12th Nov

Scary bus ride

A good nights sleep and leisurely packing session, then the pushing of the bikes up the steep dirt road to the town.

We waited a short while and managed to get on the minibus to Coban, the bikes strapped to the roof rack. Most of the customers were local Myanmar but one American/ Mexican born gent was on holiday, he was chatty and fun. He kept giving the small kids treats from his bag and even bought them all sweet treats from the vendors that boarded the bus at the stops. I also treated myself to a chocolate coated iced banana lolly.

Ginette – at one point there were 7 kids on the ‘chicken bus’ (local mini bus) under the age of 10, unlike children in the UK they were exceptionally quiet and well behaved. When the American handed out his treats, he never asked the parents permission he simply distributed them and the kids gratefully accepted them. I would have felt obliged to ask permission from their parents.

We were held up for a while at road works, the drivers congregated next to a set of concrete barbells egging each other on to try to lift them, this went on for a while so I went over to join them. They took great delight when not only couldn’t I lift them but I also landed flat on my arse. Apparently my bus load of Myan where delighted by my display.

When we got the go ahead to pass our driver turned into a demonic race driver as he had been overtaken by a bike and van which jumped the queue, he was racing at full pelt chasing the bike and van risking skids on the bends and overtaking on blind bends. This was not fun, he didn’t look in control to us but the other passengers seemed non plussed by his erratic driving.

We arrived save and sound if not shaken at the mountain city of Coban, we were both hungry and needed the loo so first stop a cafe then booked into a cheap and frankly tacky hostel “Calverio”

We had a few WiFi jobs to do and future destinations to plot so an admin afternoon

13th Nov

An Unnerved Netty and a wet afternoon.

Ginette announced that she wanted a short break, I wish she said this when we was in Semuc Champey and not in a large nondescript city as a few days rest there would have been great.

Ginette – I didn’t realise we both needed a break until I spoke to some other travellers who explained that they stopped for several days in each destination. The longest we have stayed anywhere without doing anything is a day.  We are starting to get a little tetchy with each other, but I agree with Gary I should have voiced this concern in Semuc Champey not on the road to Guatemala. 

We have two choices of route, one is shorter and more direct with less hill climbing and all on sealed roads, the other is longer with lots of climbing and a stretch of unsealed road. My preference is the longer route as it is likely to be more rewarding with views and seeing the rural Guatemala. Ginette is not keen on this route so we have compromised. We did think about splitting up for the 5 days but we are going to cycle the shorter route and I may take off for trips to the mountains once we reach our destination.

Ginette has been on edge this morning thanks to the mad driving of the bus yesterday. The road we are on is a main route from Coban to Guatemala City so was busy with traffic and it took till the afternoon for Ginette to gain her confidence again.

Ginette – the road we have chosen to cycle is sealed which is great but it has been built over an older road. The part of the road we are cycling on is the old road and every 100 meters or so there is a kerb/lip which we have to cycle up. On previous roads like this, on more than one occasion,  I have seen Gary lose control of the back of his bike. As this was a main road with huge trucks and buses passing by there was no room for error, added to this the road was very steep so on the few occasions I got nervous and stopped, it was difficult to get back on the bike.  

We stopped at a shack for lunch of pasty and chips watching with amazement as a JCB was demolishing part of a petrol station while they were still serving fuel and shoppers had to time it right to go in and out of the shop to avoid the rubble falling. As we had the camera out we asked if we could take a photograph of the people at the food shack but one men shook his head, however an older lady was happy to sit for us, what the photo we took doesn’t clearly show is another young man hiding behind Ginette with his coat right up over his head so as not to have his picture taken.

It has rained a lot today and we have had to shelter a few times, we had planned to camp in Biotopo Del Quetzal national park but the rain made this an unpleasant task so we have stopped slightly short at a town called Puralaha in a hotel type complex called Balneario Arroyo Verde, we have a chalet with two double beds and en-suite for £20. This place is great as it has a lot of grounds with trees bbq areas a river running through the middle and lots of little pools which on a sunny day would be great to explore.

This national park area has a rare bird called Quetzal (the currency here carries the same name after this bird) we have been looking out for a sighting but none yet, we hope to spot them as they are colourful and have long tail feathers.

our little cottage picture taken on the rainy day.

14th Nov

Rest day if you don’t include the 8 mile walk.

We both slept well and this morning the sun has come out to play. We have decided to stay another day here to relax and enjoy the grounds, the pools and the stream are much clearer today and the sunshine brings out all the colours.

What a difference a sunny day makes

We have hand washed some clothes to take advantage of the drying weather.
A walk into the town found a busy market and we managed to buy some fresh fish for dinner tonight. We had no WiFi so have paid £3.50 for a Guatemala sim which includes internet access, we have two Apple devices which will not take a charge, the local shop tried some charging cables but it looks like we have a software issue so plan to find an apple store in Guatemala City to get them fixed.

Most of the day was spent reading, Ukulele playing and enjoying the sunshine
We took a tuktuk ride the 5 miles to Buotopo Del Quetzal during which we realised the wallet was back in the room so had to ask the tuktuk to turn back, once at the park we paid the £8 fee for the two of us and at the entrance the park warden showed us a small bright green snake that was crossing the path.

The walk around the rainforest was fairly strenuous along a well marked path but up into the mountain, the forest was very wet and humid and surprisingly quiet, other than a few small birds and the initial snake it was only trees and fauna for the rest of the afternoon. We was hoping to spot the rare and shy Quetzal bird but no joy. We did see the camp site we would have been staying at and both felt that the little oasis of our current hotel was far better.

We walked most of the way back to town before managing to hail another tuktuk to take us to town.

Ginette – it was lovely having a rest day, with no wifi, we really enjoyed each others company. I would still like a few days rest somewhere, I feel like I need a duvet day or two. 

15th Nov

A strong day for Gary but not Ginette.

We spent most of the morning climbing and dropping and climbing again through a beautiful area of rainforest and deep valley views with other mountains in the distance, signs telling us we were still in Quetzal bird territory but didn’t spot any.
I really enjoyed today and was feeling strong but Ginette struggled from the start, which was a shame, we both have phases of strong and weak and today seemed to be Nets turn.

We cycled over 60 miles today, Net could have taken a bus at halfway but decided to carry on, a good call as the road then descended for 20 miles with a few small climbs. The views where stunning and it was getting hotter as we changed altitude.

We reached a potential stop town at 52 miles but it was only 1.30pm, there was a larger town another 8 miles on and we knew that 5 miles of this was all climbing but Net said she had another 8 miles in her legs so we pushed on.

This was the straw that broke the camels back, Net really struggled with the climb, we was making slow progress and the temperature was now 34 degrees so we were getting very hot and sweaty.

We stopped a few times as Ginette’s body was not doing well, she was overheating and feeling faint. When we finally dropped over the hill to the town she had to stop and sit in the shade as she felt very faint again.

Ginette –  Over the last few weeks I have been taking more and more weight from Gary’s bike as he was slower than me on the hills so I initially thought the weight distribution between the bikes was wrong.  To address this at our first stop we changed one of the heavier bags on my bike for a much lighter one on Gary’s bike. However this didn’t really help, Gary was simply stronger than me. I was happy cycling at my pace but every time we stopped I felt feint and this feeling got worse the hotter the day became.  At our last stop all I had to do was walk my bike across the road, but my vision was really blurred and I knew if I didn’t sit down I would fall down.  It was a hot day but we have cycled in much higher temperatures, so I am not altogether sure what is going on. Perhaps I should have listened to my body in Suc Champney. However this would have meant I would have missed the lovely views, which at times were breathtaking. 

Eventually we cycled into town, Guastatoya. It’s quite a big town and busy, it had a water park as it’s main feature. We stayed in a hotel and treated ourselves to a pizza.
We have 48 miles to go to Guatemala City and it’s all up hill, Ginette is thinking of taking the bus but we will see how she feels in the morning.

16th Nov

Up up and away, then lost with no IT, where are you Netty?

Ginette decided to take the bus to Guatemala city, we turned up at the bus stop and a bus was already waiting, it was an old style American school bus, the cycle was loaded in the back door space all in a matter of minutes. We said our goodbyes and arranged for Net to e mail me the address of the place she books when she gets into the city.

My cycle ride took me 48 miles along the same busy main road and 90% of this was all up hill, I climbed a total of 7650 feet. I enjoyed the challenge of the climbing but the route was really busy and I had to ride with extra caution taking the gutter to ride in on the right hand bends so that the lorries coming up the hill had room to go past me as they couldn’t see me on these bends.

I stopped several times for drinks and snacks and unfortunately dropped the iphone and the screen went black and now refuses to play. This was an issue as I now had no maps and no way to contact Ginette.

The last part of the ride into the city was rubbish, the hard shoulder disappeared and the traffic was heavy, with no maps I had to stick to the main road. I hoped that Ginette was still heading for Zone 1 of the city as the street signs did state the zone areas. I cycled past zone 2 thinking I was close then after a few miles was out the other side in zone 7, hence I had to turn back, this was after all the hill climbing so a bit frustrating but with no maps I was reliant on the street signs and asking the locals.

Arriving at zone 1, I asked a posh hotel if I could use there computers to contact Ginette. I couldn’t log onto  icloud as it was sending security questions to my broken phone. I set up a new e mail and contacted Ginette to find the address of the hostel she had booked, she should have been there hours ago but had only just arrived as she also had trouble finding the place having no maps as well.

Ginette – I had hoped for a rest day, my aim had been to get into the city, check into a hotel, get my hair cut and possibly find an iPhone shop to repair our broken devices.  However my bus took several hours to get to Guatamala City stopping in several towns on route.  The bus eventually stopped in Zone 17 some distance from Zone 1. I didn’t have any navigational devices (phone, garmin, maps etc) so I had a choice stay put for several hours and ask Gary to meet me at the bus terminal or make my way to zone 1. I decided on the latter, which was just as well, given Gary’s phone had broken.  This was a slow process, the roads into the city were busy and I had to stop frequently to ask for directions. I am not used to cycling abroad on my own and on at least two occasions I found myself cycling in the fast lane and had to stop and try and navigate across the road to the slow lane, which was a little scary. I eventually made it into zone 1 and stopped to make a hotel reservation. I emailed Gary the details and jokingly said he would probably find it before me.  I didn’t realise at the time that it would take me an hour and 1/2 to find the hotel as the google map was wrong.  Every time I showed someone the map I was sent to the wrong address.  I eventually worked out the road system and found the unmarked hostal on a road I had cycled and walked down already.  I had half expected Gary to be there when I arrived but once he had the address, he got a puncture and had to virtually carry his bike to the hostel. It was a very frustrating day for both of us.

We are now down to one computer, and the applemac has a broken screen with 30% of the screen blacked out. with no working phones we have no cameras and no mapping devices. we have seen that this city has some apple affiliated stores so hope to get some repairs done, the snag is its Sunday tomorrow and all but one are closed.

Ginette – on the upside at least we get another ‘rest day’.  I can only hope it doesn’t involve a 10 mile hike/bike ride. 

 

2 thoughts on “Guatamala

  1. david dutson

    Wow what sights both of you are seeing hope you get the phones fixed as the pictures you are taking and posting paint a thousand words but look on the bright side a day or two rest will do you both the world of good 🙂 stay safe and i look forward to your next report

    lost of love Dave

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