You´re are greeted by a military checkpoint upon crossing into the state of Chiapas from Tabasco. Every town had police roaming around with machine guns, the topes where the worst yet– both in number and in size, and the scenary was much more lush, green and mountainous. It was also extremely humid. I was expecting cooler temperature with the increased altitude, but it was one the hottest days of riding since I left Baja.
Palenque was teeming with tourists and venders selling tacky trickets along all the ruins. Not a very inspiring scene despite the impressive nature of the ruins.
The next day turned out to be the first day of rain for more than one month, but did it ever rain. Heavy down pours for over 10 hours straight. Now I understood why they have such large gutters in the streets and drainage tunnels underground.
The next day it was a short drive through the Zapatista heartland for a small town called Ocosing that was recommended by a fellow traveler. It turned out to be a pleasant town with wonderful ruins surpassing Palenque in sheer size.
I stayed in a hotel called Esmeralda Ranch. The owners of this hotel are from Iowa and invested a lot of money in a ranch next to the Tonina ruins. Unfortunately, the Zapatistas decided to target the ranch and invaded it. Today, the ranch sits idle and still held by the Zapatistas. The ranch was rated one of the top ten places to stay by Lonely Planet. Now they are starting over in a hotel in the center of town in Ocosingo. Although, I didn’t get to actually meet the owners the staff were very pleasant.
From the top of the ruins are beautiful views of the surrounding valley.
San Cristobal is a picturesque city, but it is overrun by tourists and stores selling jade jewlery.
One day was enough for me and I continued south for Guatemala.
The border crossing into Guatemala at La Mesilla was relatively easy once I found the right building. The border town is chaotic but I didn’t have any problems with the border officials on either side.
The lake is served by many “launchas” or little boats that depart roughly every 30 minutes. I spent some time in the town of Panachel, although it is probably the most gringo infested town whereas San Marcos was known for its hippies and new age gurus. This little girl was very persistent in trying to get me to buy something but I just didn’t want to carry any more stuff. I eventually bought her a coke and gave her some money for a photo. I told her to sit down and take a load off- literally, she was standing there for a long time balancing the stuff on her head. It was a weird but nice experience as we talked a lot about her life in Guatemala.
They were doing the usual stop and go routine but I convinced them to take a detour for some r&r and go to Monterrico which is famous for its beaches.
I didn't notice there was a river crossing, however....
We saw some beautiful beaches as well as some beach beauties.
The ride to Santa Ana was a pleasant surprise although we had to keep moving because it was getting dark. We rode through some beautiful scenery and a crater lake. We finally got back on the main highway and into Santa Ana. However, the search for a hotel in Santa Ana was another couple of hours. Exhausted, we finally stopped at a 'love' hotel for the night.
We didn't worry about security, however.
An interested take on the chocolate mint on your pillow.
Santa Ana is a nice town to relax. No other foreigners in sight we were greeted warmly by everyone. The only problem was the whole town shut down around 9:00pm.
We stayed an extra day in Santa Ana, but I was anxious to get to San Salvador where I would have a badly stretched chain replaced. The 'three amigos' split up outside of San Salvador.
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