Stuck in Guatemala - How is the rest of Central America?
We've been in Guatemala for a couple of weeks now and its been a complete experience. Plently of lush green landscapes, a diversity of villages, towns and hamlets, and we have been exposed to the vulnerability of the landscape to the tropical climate.
We are currently beside the beautiful Lago de Atitlan in a town called San Pedro La Laguna. The rains have trapped us a little but we are having a great time and have met lots of interesting people. It is the tail end of the rainy season but in addition to this there are three tropical storms that we are on the cusp of and it is causing chaos throughout Guatemala. Dozens of roads are closed due to landslides, over a dozen people have lost their lives and the rain doesn't want to stop.
Where we are the streets have been like small rivers, the lake is well above its usual water lines and families have lost their homes to the wet weather beacuse they are now semi-submerged. Yesterday, an Australian couple arrived in town somehow, they arrived by using a local chicken bus, then they walked across a landslide and through a coffee plantation and then eventually arrived after using a boat across the lake.
On Monday we have arranged to try and get out of San Pedro. This town is basically a lake formed in a crater, situated within a high mountain range which goes up to 3000m. On the way in, it was quite challenging, we encountered some of the steepest roads we have been down so far. The roads and switch-back were narrow and windy, plus there are massive sections of the road with holes and loose gravel. On the way in the rear brakes failed on our BMW GS Adventure because they became too hot. We basically had to sit it out and wait for them to cool down, then they returned back to normal.
On the way out however we won't be using the same road because we have been recommended to use another one. The road we will be using is the road to Santiago and it sounds as though it has less tarmac and more off road therefore we have arranged for a truck to transport out luggage with panniers and Ivanka along the road and to follow me as I ride the route on a lighter bike. On this route it will be necessary to take a police escort. The reason being because this route is less travelled and it has been the scene of robberies (of foreigners) in the past and so the police will be accompanying us for our own safety. We will let you know how it goes!
San Pedro has been a place to relax. We have been introduced to villages, customs and markets through an american called Robert. Robert has made our stay more interesting because he has introduced us to places and people that we never would have seen as a regular tourist. Robert has decided to bring a better way of life to the local people. In time he hopes to set up a fully functional and affordable clinic so villages have access to medicine and dental care. Robert took us to a loca market, we visited a village where Robert had provided a wheelchair, we then took a mountain walk between local villages and the experience was a lot more than we expected. In return for Roberts kindness we helped create promotional and informative videos for his charitable cause. We wish him, and his colleagues, all the success in the future.
Next week we hope to be in El Salvador, however we will see how the weather treats us, see whether roads have been cleared and see if bridges have been repaired..
Hopefully the last of the tropical storms have passed through.
What is the weather news from the rest of Central America?