July 31, 2002 GMT
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….


Jeremy , 31.07.2002
Currently in Phoenix, Arizona – 26,715 Kilometers ( 15,500 miles ) travelled

Posted by Jeremy Andrews at 10:23 PM GMT

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