We had a good ride on a couple of toll roads from Minatitlan to San Cristobal de las Casas with a hot slog through Tuxtla Gutierrez before climbing into the mountains and cooler temps. The scenery began to change with tall, tree covered mountains making themselves evident.
San Cristobal brought us some luck! We pulled into a parking lot to talk about finding a hotel when a man on a scooter pulled up. He was an American who has lived in Guatemala/Mexico for over 20 years and after a little small talk we asked him about a hotel. He suggested the Backpacker Hostel and offered to lead us there. It was a good stay with private rooms for each couple and a fire pit and conversations with the younger crowd when we returned from dinner. We were able to park the bikes in the large garden area of the courtyard along side the resident cats and dogs.
The run to the border on Columbus Day (10-12) was not without incident. When we entered Comitan, Mexico, we were greeted with a beautiful wide boulevard with a median full of trees, flowers and sculptures. But something was wrong--no moving traffic on the street and literally hundreds of taxis, buses, and trucks blocking all major intersections and side streets. We putted along slowly and were able to work our way through the blockages. No one seemed upset with us, so we just kept going. Turned out to be a protest against gasoline prices. At the border we learned that the same thing was happening in some cities in Guatemala and the man we talked to seemed a little surprised that we had been able to get through.
We were a little concerned about crossing the Mexican/Guatemala border on a national holiday, but it actually worked in our favor as we did not have to wait in line at either border post. We had to check ourselves and bikes out of Mexico, then into Guatemala. The whole process took about two hours and we were able to do it all by ourselves without hiring anyone to help us. Two/three down--eleven borders to go!
We spent our first night in Guatemala in Huehuetenango. The 50 odd miles took us through some beautiful mountain scenery and innumerable land side areas with partially blocked roads with shallow water running across the road at places. Guatemala experienced very heavy rain fall late in the summer and many were killed by mudslides; some roads were blocked for weeks.
About twenty miles out of Huehue, Ross had a flat tire. He put some air in it and was able to get a few hundred yards up the road and into a small village where we replaced the tube; we were on our way in about 90 minutes.
Last night was spent in Panajachel on the shore of beautiful Lago de Atitlan, a beautiful mountain lake guarded by three volcanoes. Our dinner at a restaurant overlooking the lake was most pleasant and sent us to bed ready for the short ride to Escuintla.
We got totally lost coming out of Panajachel this morning, but saw some beautiful scenery on narrow mountain roads. We did have a water crossing before finding our way back to a major road and on to Escuintla where we’ve had a chance to catch up on a few things and swim in the hotel pool--temps in the 90s with humidity to match made the pool very inviting.
Tomorrow will bring on borders #3/4: Guatemala/El Salvador. We will be visiting one of RuthAnn’s former students who is a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador while we are in that small Central American country.