17th – 19th Nov
The fact we are now down to one computer which has a damaged screen makes any further trip planning difficult.
– we can’t take any photos.
– we have no mapping
– we can only plan a route and download to my Garmin which has no maps as they are too expensive.
So Saturday I cycled to some iphone retailers in the city.
On route I had to divert from the garmin plot as the roads where closed for some sort of demonstration, not too much of a problem as the city is built on squares and has numbered zones.
Whilst cycling I was hit by a passing taxi, nothing major but enough to fold his wing mirror in and to bruise my hip. My fault as I had to move around some pedestrians near a busy market and ended up in the path of a speedy taxi. I was surprised that I was not shaken up at by this but it was a good reminder to cycle thinking about all the other drivers around me.
At the Apple store all they where interested in was that the three devices were out of warranty and advised me that I should replace them with new, not very helpful and a very expensive option, there was offer of a service but he implied it would be cheaper to buy new.
A frustrating day for me, I enjoy the marvels of computers and iphones but when they all go wrong at the same time the frustrations are huge.
We did do some sight seeing in the city, the three dimension scale map of Guatemala is a good visit, I was able to see where we had cycled in all it’s three dimensional glory.
Walking around the city feels very safe and the people are really friendly. Sunday’s are relaxed with a lot of stores shut and families relaxing outside in the clement weather.
Ginette – Guatamala has a really bad reputation (as do most Central American Countries. However we have felt safe and everyone has been friendly and helpful. This is in contrast to the fact that the majority of buildings have barbed wire around them and there are armed military/police on nearly every street corner and outside most stores. Once the sun goes down even the corner shops are only accessible via bars on the windows.
Monday we moved hostels, this new hostel, Tequila Sunrise is much nicer and the kitchen is larger and we feel free to use use it, unlike the last hostel with a small kitchen that felt like we were intruding on. We both took a walk to an computer repair store called the iCentre and the technician filled us with a sense that he knew what he was talking about (Talking via google translate) we left the two IPhones and ipad with him to analyse.
Ginette – I risked getting my hair cut, fortunately it was a really pleasant experience helped by the fact that I could ask for what I wanted in Spanish and it only cost £10. Interestingly both times I’ve had my hair cut in South/Central America the hairdresser has cut my hair first and then washed it, this seems far better than washing it then cutting it.
Tuesday we checked out and cycled to the icentre. He had repaired one of the iPhones with a new screen and battery for £80, he informed us that the ipad would not be ready until the following day, which meant another day in Guatamala city. As he had done a good job, we asked him to repair the laptop.
We checked back into the Tequila Sunrise, we plan to pick up the IPad tomorrow, leave the iPad and bus over to Panajachel.
Ginette – it is very strange being abroad for the festive season, I have asked Gary to refrain from singing/whistling festive songs until the 1st December, he is trying but occasionally I have to give him the look. That said I have heard Gary whistling/singing Christmas songs at home in the middle of June. There’s no hope really.
20th – 22nd Nov
Panajachel, Lago Atitlan.
We collected the iPad repaired with a new battery for £80.
The bus station to Panajachel for the cheap chicken bus would of been very hard to find if it wasn’t for another couple’s blog that described how they found the bus depot. It was really just the maintenance shed, we had to wait an hour while a mechanic fixed something under the bus then our bikes were loaded on the top of the old school bus and we were charged £6 each for the trip. The buses are old and knackered and you can feel every bump in the road, the driver gunned it as much as he was able up the winding hills so the engine could cope but this meant he was taking the bends to fast for my liking and we were all having to hang on and lean into each turning. I like the native experience and cost of these chicken buses but do not like the journey, they are far to dangerous.
It was just getting dark as we reached Panajachel and unfortunately there was a huge bank of dark cloud cover so we didn’t get to enjoy the views coming down the mountain road to the lake.
After finding a hotel we set off for a wander and some dinner and even had a few beers watching a live duet of guitar and violin with a bar full of Americans.
We spent the next day strolling around the town and the lake edge, it was a warm sunny day so it was easy to relax. Ginette was a bit nonplussed all day as she had heard she hadn’t made it through to the last set of interviews.
The lake is huge and is surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, it makes for a pretty backdrop. We had considered hiring a canoe to paddle to one of the other towns but as the afternoon came so did the cloud cover again and with that the lake lost its placid waters and was getting choppy. We plan to take one of the many ferry boats tomorrow to go around the lake and visit some of the other villages.
Friday we hopped on a water taxi over to Santa Cruz, this small town is a bit of a steep walk up the hill and even when we reached the square the village is still going up on a steep incline, there wasn’t much to see but it is a nice village with great views over the lake.
From here we followed a path around the lake towards Jaibalito, the path also went up a little and although it was well trodden it was narrow and it didn’t look like a lot of people took this route. There were a few different types of accommodation scattered around this section of the lake, some looking very posh and looking ideal for honeymoon couples. We past a hostel called Free Cerveza eco lodge, it looked to have a friendly and relaxed vibe but we had definitely raised the average age by stepping over the threshold.
Jaibalito was even smaller than Santa Cruz with tiny lanes just wide enough for the tuk tuks
We was planning on taking another ferry further around the lake but the one waiting at the dock was going back to Panajachel, however he gave us a price that was double what we paid to get over there and we were worried that the trend may be for each distance away from Panajachel that the price back will hike up so we opted to go straight back and chill in Panajachel again.
Very hilly ride and a burning volcano
Today we cycled just under 50 miles and climbed a total of 5900ft up some of the steepest climbs we have done for a while.
Resting in Antigua.
Our hostel last night was quiet but they had a litter of 8 husky puppies, they were well behaved and quite in the night but cooking and eating in the kitchen and shared living room meant sharing the space with the puppies as well and three adult dogs.
Reunited with the laptop
This morning the skies were clear and we had a great view from our terrace roof of the active volcano blowing smoke and ash from its peak.
We decided to take the bus to Guatemala City to avoid cycling into the city, it didn’t take long to find the bus we needed as all the drivers and drivers mates were touting for business.
The cycle ride out of the city was pants, busy bumper to bumper traffic and no cycle lanes, Ginette was not a happy bunny. I managed to plot a route slightly off the main Pan American highway but we had a huge hill to climb, I am sure this cheered Ginette up as I know how much she has come to enjoy hill climbing, she even got off a few times to push the bike so she savour the hill for longer.
Ginette – I really don’t mind hills, but I hate busy roads with little room for error. This road had the tinest hard shoulder with exhuast spewing lorries and buses roaring past. I hated it and had a little melt down, I even considered getting on a bus to El Salvedor.
We took another back road and it went down down and down, I was enjoying this when a motorcycle pulled me over. He had been chatting to Net to warn her this road ran out of tarmac so she sent him racing down after me to give me the same warning. So we turned around and went back up, up and more up.
Ginette – this was a much better road, with far less traffic.
Back on the Pan American highway and the traffic had eased off plus the going was pretty much all down hill for 20 miles, we wasn’t expecting to cover so much ground but we managed to settle in a small town called Bartolome near a lake and national park, it was dark by the time we got there. I was aware of a hotel the other side of the lake but cycling through the shanty town we asked around and found a Love motel to stop in. It charged by the hour as well as for the whole night, we have gone for the whole night (I think the man was impressed) tomorrow we should pass into El Salvador.
Ginette – the closer we got to the border, we saw less women dressed in the traditional skirt and tops instead women were dressed in western clothes.