13. Guatemale, - More big cities and crazed drivers...
There was an immediate improvement in the roads as I entered Guatemala, and I headed straight to ‘Guate’ ( Guatemala City ) along a road choked with trucks and aggressive car drivers. Despite the numerous police controls, I’ve never seen so much blind corner passing in all my days….
Guate is one mother of a city, divided into zones comprised of Avenidas and block numbers. Sounds simple, but navigation was definitely an issue. After I unpacked I ventured out for some food around 8.30pm, finding myself walking along dark, desolate and scary streets. Definitely not a place to walk around at night.
Walking back from an unpalatable plate of combination fried rice I walked past a young guy lying on the footpath with his head in a box, no sooner had I walked past him than I realised he was walking behind me…
I mustered one of my ‘don’t fornicate with me’ expressions looking back at him, and he turned the corner. It was nice to find the hotel again I can tell you.
The only reason for stopping in the city was to replace my worn out MT21 rear tyre, and Guate was reportedly the cheapest place to do so. After purchasing a Bridgestone Trailblazer I can tell you tyres are definitely better priced in South America. I got the tyre fitted by Andy Young, a former bike racer who acts a Night in shining armor for bikers coming through. His workshop is for cars, but he dropped what he was doing to give me a hand, and all I could do was buy him a burger and fries for lunch. People like Andy are just awesome.
Andy and myself in his bikini walled worshop
Since my little crash in Chile, neither of my boxes are waterproof, and I’d resorted to tyre tubes as sealing gaskets for the lids. It was effective, but it stretched the mounts and was really fiddly. He suggested a thick line of black RTV around the lip of the box, and it works like a charm. I thanked him profusely and evacuated myself from the city to Antigua.
Antigua was chokka with tourists, many learning Spanish, or simply avoiding Guate, which is quite understandable. I met some friends from Nicaragua again which was quite a laugh – imagine taking a small walk through the city square at night when someone jumps on you with a leg lock around your waist…
In Antigua I simply relaxed and tried my hand at some photography, although one of the best chances I could only catch with my digital camera….
A postcard scene in Antigua, click here for larger view
My plan from there was to see the famous lake Atitlan, and the head on to Chi Chi ( Chichicastenago ) for the night, but some ominous looking rainclouds reversed the order. Again I bummed around looking for photo op’s, but the only thing I shot was this crazy Japanese guy touring in authentic wooded thongs. I wondered if I’d see a Dutch tourist in clogs around the next corner….
Not exactly suitable footware huh ?
On the way to Atitlan I headed around the lake to Santiago Atitlan in search of the tequila drinking saint Maximon, but instead I found a baptism going on at the lake edge, - fascinating to watch.
Hold your breath now......
Lake Atitlan was nice, but the patriot New Zealander in me says we’ve got lots more back home….
I took a conscious decision to miss the ruins of Tikal, and I headed for Palenque in Mexico….
Posted by Jeremy Andrews at July 31, 2002 10:23 PM GMT
Jeremy , 31.07.2002
Currently in Phoenix, Arizona – 26,715 Kilometers ( 15,500 miles ) travelled
Te mando un saludo desde Venezuela, espero que sigas teniendo un buen viaje.
Jeremy give those truck drivers the benefit of the doubt - they've probably got bad eyes, no spectacles and can't see you, so they're not really aiming for you! Does this help?! Great stuff as always.
saludos de pablo y mimo del hotel broadway de caracas y estamos siguiendo tu recorrido que esta muy fabuloso que tengas suerte con la chica de bikini wall suerte en tu viaje.
I also noticed that Guatemala city was not a nice place so i went directly north to Belize (also known for thievery) to see the ruins across the border in Mexico. You could slip across to Belize city where you can go swimming with sharks quite a treat. Don't forget a hammock from Merida and visit Chechin Itza other Mayan Ruins (this was where i saw Pavarotti in concert) hell include a rest on Isla Muhare (?sp and check the happy hours out!!! )Dos Eqis cervaca por fa vor!!
Adios amigos M&N
It was great to meet you " Jims"....jijiji...All my friends realy liked you a lot I had many complains from them because you left...
I`ll keep track of your trip, try not to get frozen...
I hope to see you again
Hello, Jeremy, Como andás amigo.... Acá estamos en Viedma, mucho frío y mucha lluvia.-
We spect that you speak Spanish, If you can send some comment to us....
We are very happy because of your amazing travel...
Mucha suerte y hasta pronto...
Nancy, Camila, Floffly y Oscar.
way to go man. Your diary is essential reading for anyone who is unfortunate not to be on the road at the moment. Great to see that you are developing the gaunt bikey look - never thought I would live to see the day. I instead have meanwhile developed into a mountain bike junkie and biked it around Slowania and Croatia over the past weeks. Bring it on. Be good, Liz