Guatemala!

I’ve studied my maps, I’ve looked at what I want to see on the way down, and I really need to keep on the move.  There is always something I need to get to, a goal to meet.  This one is to be to Chile by March 5 to meet up with the Husaberg Adventure Team.. I know it’s a long way off, but it’s also a long way from here!  I’m also checking ahead for how I’m going to get across the Darien Gap once I get to Panama.  My choices are a boat or airplane.  I’ve got a lot of figure out and so much research to do.

In the meantime.. keep going!! 😉

Southern Mexico is beautiful.. however, my road conditions are going a bit down hill..

Third post in a row with a partially missing road.. Would I have seen that stick if I was motoring along here at night?

Aha.. yes lovely photo of Sherri Jo.  The good news is that I have made it to the border of Guatemala.. woo hoo!!  One whole month of traveling through Mexico complete!  And I feel that I haven’t seen enough of it. I could stay so much longer!

This border crossing was funny. It’s at the end of this bridge where I locked my camera away and I didn’t dare bring it out.  There was this chain link fence at the border that had been totally cut through. People everywhere and no security at all!  I had to leave my bags and my bike unattended to go inside and stand in line.  Was not happy!

Once I made it to the counter, the customs (aduana) guy was not happy with my Australian documents and he sent me to a lawyer down the street in Guatemela to make a notarized copy of my own documents that have passed through 30 something countries by now.

The guy saw I was worried and not cool with walking away from my bike and gear to go for a wander around a dirty border town to find a lawyer to notarize a paper..  I don’t even have a passport stamp yet for Guatemala!  He was really trying to help, but he said if he didn’t do this, he could lose his job.  In a very poor country, I don’t want to be responsible for that either.  So we organized a security guard to watch the bike.  

My other big concern is for the first time on this journey, I have an oil leak. I’m in a small panic about it, never had one before!  However, I had done my research and there is a KTM shop in Guatemala City.

After about 3 hours at the border crossing.. sweating and overheating.. I’m free!  Since the camera was still locked away,  I didn’t pull it out yet.  All I could think of with this long delay was that I need to  hurry to get to Guatemala City before dark.

So!  This, I’m sure with the overheating, turned me into a mad woman on a motorcycle!!!

The road conditions in Guatemala were beyond bad.  Massive chuck holes.. and where there wasn’t a hole, there was a speed bump instead.  Add to that some seriously crazy traffic all heading to the same city that I am!  I just went wild.  I was riding fast, weaving in and out of traffic (as safe as possible), and surprisingly doing most of this standing up. The bike was kicking and bucking like a horse as we kept hitting the deep holes or very tall pointy speed bumps.  Because the road was so bad, there was no option to sit down.  And this is main highway! 

Welcome to Guatemala City!

The first thing I want to do is find the KTM shop.  I know it’s too late to go in and have the oil leak checked out, but if I can find it, then I’ll get a place to stay nearby.  Just in case this is a major deal, I can be near it and walk home.

The city was huge, the gps doesn’t work in the city and I’m going in circles.  But I found it!

And it was closed as expected.  Found a hostel just 2 blocks away.. I made it.  Sometimes it even amazes me. 

The owner moved her own car out of the way so I could park my bike inside.  I am quite concerned about the level of locks and gates, but the good news, we are in.

I met the KTM guys.. they would not know the problem unless they took the bike apart.  It was a little shop and they didn’t even have oil to do an oil change.  They were super nice and helpful as they could be, but I decided that I didn’t want them taking my bike apart.  It is only a little leak and according to most people I talked to online with KTMs, I am far more worried about it than I need to be.   Fine.

There is something about the way they celebrate Christmas around here that helped convince me to get out.

This is good because I don’t want to hang around in the big city.  Plus, a man contacted me on facebook that he is just down the road in Antigua, Guatemala.  I knew I wanted to go there already, so I pack up and go to meet him.

Arriving Antigua, Guatemala

This town is looking good!!

And I found Mark!  He rides a BMW f800gs.  Mark is here but his bike is not.  He’s had a small mishap with a ditch on the Guatemalan roads (shock) and his bike is in the BMW shop in Guatemala City.  So he’s been here in Antigua taking Spanish lessons while he waits.  Smart man!  He’s also organized for me to stay at the same hostel in town.  Which is awesome. Saves me a lot of work, just need to find the address and show up. All sorted, thanks Mark!

Since Mark has been here a while, he knows just where to go to find a good cheap meal for lunch.  This place was a classic!  You would have NO idea there was a little restaurant behind this little shop stocked full to the ceiling. You have to SQUEEZE behind the counter through a little door opening and there are 4 large tables in the back.  Mark has some great photos of the place in his blog link here: Radioman rides the World
I told Mark I saw some very good looking street markets on my way in. He knew exactly where and showed me!  

I got a bit enthusiastic and googly eyed over all the colors.. and wished so bad I could have at least something!   I bought a couple little colored bracelets.  I don’t have to make space for them on the bike.. Then!!  Mark, I can’t stand it!  I must buy something and send it home..! The pressure of not buying anything anywhere in the world must have been building up. He laughed knowing all to well that it’s nearly impossible to buy things for ourselves on the trip.  And he enjoyed watching me spend my money he says.  
This young girl was determined to sell me a scarf.  The most determined sales lady I have come across in a long time.  Her English was really good, and I kept telling her I don’t need a scarf.  Then she said I should buy 2!  This went on and on, she’d take every excuse I’d give her and then use it against me!  I got weak!  I was still in the buying mood even though I was trying to deny it.. and she knew it!  I bought 2 scarves.. One I still wear nearly every day here.
She saw me on the streets the next day.  I was wearing my new scarf and she said, “I thought you didn’t need a scarf!”  and kept walking.. ha!  
The good news it was all super cheap.  (I sent a few small things home, however, I don’t think my package ever made it)
Mark also keeps a great blog as he travels the world by motorcycle.
Radioman Blog Post Antigua Guatemala  It’s always worth reading a man’s point of view of shopping in the markets with Sherri Jo.. ha!
 View of La Merced from the roof of our hostel.
 
Now for some treats you don’t have to send home.  How could you not buy something sweet from this lady!

I love wandering this town and experiencing the culture.  It has a few similarities to the south of Mexico I just came from, but it is very different too.
Dinner time! Mark ordered a beer and I chose a Sangria.. Gee whiz, they must think I’m thirsty!

We actually went for Thai food tonight in Guatemala.. ha!!

A very busy barber shop for this time of night..

And if we were the type of tourist who didn’t want to try authentic Guatemalan Thai food, we could always go to McDonalds.  ;-/

Mark’s bike is nearly ready in Guatemala City and he’s keen to get there and make sure all is well.  I’m too in love with this town so I chose to stay and check it out more.  The next morning he grabs a bus to the city and I go and explore..  To read more of Marks blog, go to Radio man rides the World

I had to take a photo of this couple.  They were so happy in love.

I’ve decided to go check out a volcano hike that Mark has already done. He said he didn’t get to see much when he went due to the fog.  However, view or not, I could use a good hike up a steep hill just for some exercise! 

This is Volcan de Pacaya.  The last eruption??  May 27, 2010!!  My logic says it’s okay to hike because it will be a few years before the pressure builds up again.  I don’t know this, but it makes sense in my own head! 😉

I have never seen this before.  This tree has grown large enough, but it’s roots are on the outside, not in the ground.  The volcanic earth is too hot so for it to survive, the roots grow “up” on itself.  Interesting!

We had a guide on this hike, who was really good.  But I was enjoying so much his dog, Terri.

What the heck is he doing?

He explains that he gets in here when he gets cold.  It is a pocket of hot steam, like a sauna.  Then he asks if any of us would like to get in.. I will!

Oh man, it is sooo nice!!!  I think I’ll just stay here while the others hike! 😉

Walking out of the cloud line on our way back down the volcano.
 

Back on my rooftop in Antigua.. and looking back at the hill I just walked up today..

Went out looking for dinner and on this corner, I could choose from handmade tortillas, packaged marshmallows, or Dominoes Pizza!

I chose to meet Scott at the wine bar instead. So cultured and civilized! I’ll never fit in!! 😉 Scott was on my hike today and he happens to be from my home state of Indiana!  He’s taking a break from work and like Mark, was in Antigua to learn Spanish!  

I’m still wearing my new pink scarf.. And this lovely boy comes in to sell Chiclets as do millions of kids on the streets at night from Mexico down.  But this guy was special.  When I said no to his Chiclets, he turned the blinking lights on his hat and wiggled his eyebrows.  Gee whiz!  How many Chiclets have you got!  I bought 4 packets.. A new record for me!  I talked to him for quite a while, about the comic books he was carrying and what time does he go to school etc.  It bothers me to see children working at night.

Well the time has come to pack up and leave Antigua.  I loved it here, and it’s on a list of places I wouldn’t mind returning to someday.  I was thinking maybe I love these places so much because I am going through quickly.  If I stayed in one spot too long it might lose its charm.

The plan is to try to catch up with Mark now that his bike is fixed in Guatemala City.  However, the city is far too hard and slow to navigate so we arrange to meet somewhere on the road between here and the border of El Salvador.. I don’t know which would be harder!

While I was looking for Mark, I found this guy.  No idea what he’s doing out here, but he was sure he hasn’t seen a man on a white BMW! 

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About kangamerican

Originally from America. Proud citizen of Australia. Currently riding my motorcycle around the world. 44 countries so far and counting. ;-) View all posts by kangamerican

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