Day 27 – Antigua, Guatemala

Today we spent all day riding and barely made 200 kms.  Our plan had been to go to lake Atitlan for a swim.  My thought was that the water would be warmer than the shower in our hotel room.  However, at some point we took a wrong turn and ended up in a remote mountain village.  It is easy to take a wrong turn in Guatemala because any semblance of a main road dissappears when you enter a town and you are plunged into a maze.  You’re lucky if you find your way out at all, and if you find yourself on a paved road on the other side, all the better.  The only problem is if you end up on some other paved road than the one you intended. 

When it became clear we were lost, I asked a man how to get back to the road we wanted.  After following his directions, I thought maybe he had made a joke at our expense, and he was still laughing and telling how he had fooled a couple of gringos into riding their bikes into the middle of nowhere.  The road we were on was a narrow track that wound it’s way through the village at impossibly steep inclines and sharp corners to be any kind of a main road.  I asked directions again.  Again I was told to just keep going straight.  Before we could go much farther, however, we found ourselves riding in a parade.  There was a van covered in balloons behind us and a bunch of kids in a marching band ahead of us.  The villagers, many dressed in colourful traditional Guatemalan hand woven garb, lined the streets watching us go by.  I wonder what they thought of a couple of gringos on big motorbikes laden with gear (Ted even had his boxers drying on the back) riding in formation in the middle of their parade.  I was enjoying being at the centre of attention and had started waving at the kids as I rode by when a police officer walked into our path and gave us the universal halt signal.  We had to wait for the parade to finish. 
We took the opportunity to have breakfast at a little establishment at the side of the road.  A friendly couple plied us with drinks and homemade food while we chatted about Guatemala and Canada.  They didn’t speak any English, and my Spanish is still extremely limited, so it was amazing we were able to communicate as much as we did.  Apparently Guatemala is “muy peligroso”.  That’s a word I know from the road signs (i.e. “Precaution Curva Peligrosa a 100 m”. 

The cuenta (bill) came to only 20 Quetzals.  I felt guilty paying only that small amount for all the good food and drinks we had consumed.  After waiting for the parade to come back down the street, we finally set off.  We ended up on a dirt road that wound it’s way over two mountains before finding the main road.

Lake Atitlan is like something from a fantasy novel.  The mountains descend steeply down into bright green water.  Not one, not two, but three Volcanoes tower over the lake.  A dragon flying across that scenery would not seem out of place.  The ride around the lake was a highlight of the trip – it was spectacular.  The ride from Lake Atitlan to Antigua was also fantastic.  Gone were the black smoke spewing trucks and buses that clog the main highways.  It was just empty road winding it’s way over mountains with views of Lake Atitlan thousands of feet below and the volcanoes reaching thousands of feet above.

Tonight we’re staying a hotel in colonial Antigua near one of the main plazas.  The hotel is really more like a bed and breakfast: there are only three rooms and it feels like we’re guests in someone’s house.  Our room opens onto an open air coutyard on the second floor with a view of a Volcano.  The hostess was extremely amenable to our needs, moving furniture out of the front entrance so we could park our motorcycles right inside the parlour.  We were soaking wet from a good drenching on the last couple hours of our ride.  I had tracked water into the tiled hallway.  This almost proved to be a disaster.  As I was pushing my bike around a corner, I lost my footing and slid on the wet tiles, coming perilously close to dropping my bike right onto the hostess’ poodle.  Not to mention a cabinet of fine looking china.

One thought on “Day 27 – Antigua, Guatemala

  1. Tyson, Where are the pictures of Camillo and the volcanos as well as of Lake Atitlan? The scenery you are describing sounds so spectacular that it needs to be shared. Take Care and keep blogging! Love, your Mom

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