April 23, 2011

The word is out.  I’ve gone back home to New Jersey, where I plan to remain for I don’t know how long in order to take some time for myself and to be with my family.  It was a tough decision, but one that feels right for now.  Kurt has proceeded on south and you can keep up with his adventures at www.pocket-thunder.blogspot.com.  I continuously thank everyone for taking an interest in this blog and assure you this hiatus will not last forever.

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Lagging on the blog posts I know, but just wanted to give a quick hello and let you know we are in Honduras, heading for La Moskitia.  Some hollowed out canoes, sweet yucca and muddy single track await our future.  In the case that I don’t get this thing updated in the next day or two, it will surely be weeks before we are around internet again, so thanks in advance for your patience.  If you please, follow the Spot in the meantime to find out where we are.  Those satellites never sleep…

Misty mountain hop…

April 3, 2011

As far as Guatemala goes, the region of Peten occupies about 1/3 of the country, yet possesses less than 3% of it’s population.  The area touches closest to the Lacandon forest of Mexico, a place we visited a while back as we looped from San Cristobal in Chiapas down to Los Guacamayas and the likes.  This time we got to experience the same as before, with various birds swooping and calling, ancient Ceiba and mahogany trees gracing the roadsides and howler monkeys playing their part in keeping it noisy both day and night.

Just after the town of Fray Bartolome de las Casas, we start our climb into some magnificently windy and dense green mountains, with canyon views dropping off swiftly on each side.  For the next few days we rode (and sometimes I pushed) over one of the most beautiful territories I have ever seen in my life.  The days were hot and muggy, some including a bit of fog and rain, but nothing broke our stride as we climbed up over one range and were swept down to the base of another only to begin the process all over again.  As Kurt so eloquently put it, “If there were a podium, this road would be on it.”

As we are only taking in a bit of Guatemala with our route, in an effort to make some steady southward progress, it will be these days spent in the mountains which imprint on our hearts the beauty and kindness that Guatemala has to offer.

 

Waking in a foggy mist...

...can be a most beautiful thing...

Antonio and his sister joined us for lunch one day, as we took refuge near his family's sheltered wood pile. We shared some rice and hot cocoa while they shared some incredibly cute smiles and questions...

We spent the better half of this day climbing in the rain...

 

Despite the dirt and water mixture, the roads remained rideable the entire time, staying packed down by the trucks which frequent the route...

 

 

Show stopping views...

 

...do help to calm a constantly churning heart and mind...

...bringing light to areas that might otherwise be dark...

One of the more precarious campspots we've had involved this pannier-less shuttle of bikes through a delicate cornfield perched on a hillside...

The different shades of love...

Thankfully not every beverage comes in a plastic bag. Kurt and I call these "healthy sodas"...

Many families along the way were drying stashes of cacao, one of the crops in the mountains. I was let to taste a piece and even though newly dried, I found it bitter and delicious...

The streets of Cabahon, one of the largest mountain towns...

And the majestic Rio Cabahon, helping to ever create the deepness of the valley and the greenness of the landscape, not to mention a running bathtub for two dusty gringos...

We climbed...

...and we climbed. This day in the sunshine...

Upon entering one of the villages, we met Che Che, a teacher at the small local school. The families in these mountains are mainly indigenous Maya or ladinos (mixed race)...

Waiting for our eggs to firm on up for the midday eating...

And as always, what goes up... must eventually go down....

 

These Guatemalan days…

April 3, 2011

After our introduction to Guatemala via Flores and the surrounding towns, we set off in a southerly direction, heading towards the towns of La Libertad and Sayaxuhe and what looked to be some long lusted after mountainous ranges.

I will add that we were now down to viewing the last two pages of our trusted Mexico Guia Roji map, which luckily had also contained maps for both Belize and Guatemala.  The pages are dog-eared and worn, but only the back cover is threatening to expel itself, proving it to be one of the most useful and durable atlases I’ve seen.

We gathered our first real impressions of Guatemala on these days, camping in cornfields and riding alongside the mass movements heading to Sunday church, where an almost circus-like tune was sure to be found thundering from the open doors and windows.  The children took great pleasure in pointing out the fact that we were riding by, shouting at every opportunity “Gringo! Gringo! Gringo!”  This was usually followed by some seriously enthusiastic waving.  Goods were a bit cheaper than we had seen on the trip so far (as we expected) and the purchases of ice pops, fruit and water helped keep the heat at bay.

Man it seemed hot!  To be expected I know, having not too long ago come from a place that unless you were moving around vigorously outside, it was best not to stay out for fear of frozen limbs.  The opposite is occurring here.  The sun has got you up and on your toes by 6, 7am at the latest, and usually by 10 I, for one, am soaked almost completely through with sweat and able to brush salt crystals off my arms.  The sun and the heat just envelope you, seemingly reminding you every kilometer that you are indeed heading south.

 

These cheap bags of water amount to an awful amount of plastic consumption. On the plus side, they are found cold (sometimes nearly frozen) in almost every market we pass...

One may think "why not just build a bridge?" Valid. However, we get to ride over bridges all the time. We enjoy these occasional extremely short distance water taxiing...

5 quetzal (about 75 cent US) plate of chicken, rice and tortillas. Fuel for the body found at a truck stop junction...

He obviously wanted some too...