I entered Guatemala on Saturday, December 12th.
Carlos, Doris, their son Esteban and their nephew all rode with me from San Cristobal to the border.
I crossed at La Mesilla and it was crazy!
It was market day in La Messilla and the frontera (border) was just like I read about–full of people, traffic, animals, noise, awful smells, just the general excitement that is a part of this journey. AND the pavement was slick as snot with all the, er, um, gosh I don’t want to imagine, stuff ground into it. I had to be very careful.
Carlos and Doris took turns watching my bike and walking me through the crossing process…Carlos also stood guard while I changed a few bucks at the border.
I made it through the order in about an hour and half, and was finally on my way in Country #2.
At the border I met these British folks Angie and Philip traveling n their Italian overland vehicle. They’ve been traveling for four years and have some incredible stories!
Just on the other side of the mayhem at La Mesilla I found myself riding through this incredibly steep, lush, jungle pass between the mountains.
I made it to Xela (pronounced Chela, short for Chelacastenango) where I got a hotel for the night. Not great, but a private room for 50 Quetzales [$1=8 Q] and a safe place to park the bike. quite a difference from Mexico where my hotels ranged from $20-$30/night!
I had a lovely tour around the city, took some cool night shots, and walked back to the hotel. And kept walking…where the heck was the hotel? What was the name of the hotel? Was it on 9th something steet? I found the next 9th…but it seemed the city was divided into Quadrants…which quadrant was my hotel in? Oofa. Maybe if I could find the plaza central I could find the hotel from there, so more laps around the City…then I asked someone…what’s the name of the hotel? You don;t remember? Which street is it on? You don’t remember? What was it near? which plaza? Oh. There are several plazas? Um…9th something? I’m not sure … ???
Wait! I took pictures at the plaza…(nearly in hysterics now) THIS plaza???!?!?!? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Si. (sigh)
So the nice fellow waked a coupe of blocks with me, then gave me directions to the plaza from that corner…and as I walked down that street, I passed my hotel.
Note to self: ALWAYS take a picture of the hotel AND take a business card!!!
Sometime in the middle of the night heavy rain woke me up. I fooled around in the morning hoping for the rain to pass, but darn my luck it just continued to pour.
I rode to Solola, then Panajachel, where I stopped for lunch on Lago Atitlan. The weather cleared a bit, so I decided to ride around the lake
but about halfway around the sky opened up and gave a drenching rain like I have never seen before.
At one point he pavement ended and I had an absolute adrenaline moment when I had to suck it up and ride up this crazy washed out road
going on faith that what the locals had told me was true–that the road went all the way around the lake — and that I hadn’t actually gotten off the main road somehow.
I reached my destination right before dark — San Pedro la Laguna — and dripped my way into the Spanish School where I was to start classes the next morning. I opted to stay in a hotel to dry out that night–in an attempt to dry out– and dripped my way over to gringolandia where I stayed at Hotel Jarachik with a private bathroom and free WiFi for 35 Q (that’s about $4 folks)
Monday I started my Spanish classes at http://www.cooperativeschoolsanpedro.com/
Four hours of private instruction per day, 5 days per week, and staying with a family with three meals per day cost $150.
My instructor was Jose
I spent the week, which encompassed the Christmas Holiday, with Pedro and Alejandra and their teenagers. I got a good review of Spanish grammar, enjoyed chatting with my instructor, Jose, who liked to act and dress like a bad boy but was really quite sweet underneath it all.
I said my goodbye to my host family, and rode to Antigua Guatemala.