Some last words to Mexico. Overall (apart from our crash!) we had a wonderful time, people were friendly and at no time where they any threat. Before we left our Oasis in “Tule” we did check out Oaxaca City with its beautiful colonial style architecture.
We enjoyed some indigenous music at a festival, had an adventurous cab ride into town with Guenther and Ilka, the 2 Overlanders who also stayed at Calvin’s place. We left Calvin with a sad heart, knowing we‘ve made a loyal friend.
Anyway, via Mitla, an old town with rich indigenous history we rode to Puerto Arista, a small coastal town. Apparently there was another Overlander Camp with little cabanas where we planned on staying. Again it was very humid, the place was very basic, nothing really special and the host was not a man of many words, I guess Calvin spoiled us too much!!!
Since we weren’t sure how long it would take us to reach the border to Guatemala, we decided to stay one more night in Tapachula, which is a midsized town close to the border.
So next day we even found a Honda Motorcycle Dealer in Tapachula and Heinz bought a new side mirror that was still missing on his bike. He simply cut off the bottom part and “ hose-clamped” it to whatever was left from his mirror. Stayed one night at “Hotel Bremen”(some german guy started a restaurant but converted it to a hotel, that’s how much I understood from the receptionist).
Next day we left early to spend, I think more than 2 hours at the border. First we had to shoo off all the guys who wanted to lure us in and for money do all the paperwork for us. No way! Bottom line after numerous times being sent to make copies of this and that and paying 160 Quetzales each we finally were let off and could drive on. What a rip off!!
Guatemalan roads are way worse than Mexicans. Potholes everywhere, topes continuing highest speed is maybe 80km/h for short distances. We were already told by someone at the border that there were lots of roadblocks everywhere. People are striking, demonstrating prior to presidential elections coming up on Sept.6th. They want to oust the current president who apparently is corrupt (who isn’t in this country?). Well, sure enough it didn’t take us long before we hit the first road block. I tried to plead again. One guy eventually was nice enough to talk to the leader and they let us through, not before I gave him a big hug and kiss and thanked him. Ha, the whole crowd went wild! Half an hour later, next road block. That took a little longer, after I made the “big” mistake and told the leader that we were only Canadian tourists, he immediately shouted to everybody that the Canadian government would exploit all their mining and they were the worst.
Darn, I should have played the german card, I thought. But then 5 Min. later he grinned and let us through! The whole crowd was cheering us on and they were surrounding us, fumbling with our bikes and were overall curious and friendly.
The third road block, well there was no way they would cave in. We had to wait with everybody else until finally after 1 1/2 hours over loudspeakers it was announced that the police was coming and opening up the blocks.
We jumped on the bikes and got the hell out cause further down the road there was police waiting in riot gear. By then it was fairly late and we were up in the highlands and still had 1 ½ hours to ride to Lake Atitlan. The last thing we wanted was riding in the dark. We found out that for 2 more days there will be more blocks from 6:00am until 6:00pm. Finally just before dark and after a very steep horrendous road downhill we arrived in San Pedro de Laguna at the Chi-Ya Hotel, again run by an expat Canadian from Vancouver. And wouldn’t you know soon after our arrival it started to rain heavily. Phew!!
We parked the bikes, dropped off our stuff and tried to find a bite to eat. By then there was a power outage in the village, but we found an American run Restaurant and had a nice Pizza (kitchen was still open, they were running on gas) Well we have no choice but to stay for 2 days hoping that the road blocks will ease off.
Lake Atitlan is beautiful though.It is surrounded by high mountains that are partially old non-active volcanos. We are right between 2 towns San Pedro and San Juan. San Pedro is attracting lots of tourists( and hippies!) from the states, Europe and Israel. We hear a lot of English and Hebrew that dominates the lower lake part of town.
The indigenous people, the Tz’utujil are more uptown and have their bustling markets there. There are little “Tuk Tuk’s” everywhere. They a little 3 wheeled vehicles functioning as cabs and if you’re not fast enough, they will run you over! So hopefully we will be lucky tomorrow and not run into any more road blocks and will be able to leave this lovely country, but I certainly do not want to get caught in the middle of their political unrest!
I must say I am so impressed with Feli’s negotiation skills. How she charmed those men at the road blocks was amazing to see. Women are just better communicators. There should be more women in politics. It would make the world a better place. I love my wife!!!!