Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
35Trip End Sep 03, 2008
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Where I stayed
Hotel Villa Real Plaza
We set the alarm, not that we really had to because there is a fiesta (Fiesta de San Carmen) in town and the churches shoot off huge exploding rockets EVERY morning at 7am, and continue throughout the day. We got up and packed all of our stuff and were making good time but then Jess went out to the bike and it didn't start. The battery was dead! After a bit of a struggle and meeting a fellow Mexican MacGyver we got the bike started but we lost a few hours of travel time. It might not sound like a big deal but with the afternoon storms here it's makes a huge difference if you get away early
But finally on the road I felt so happy and excited. It is so much fun to ride (even on the back) on a motorcycle, you see so much and things are happening all the time. The ride was beautiful and the closer the border we got, the more stunning the landscape. The villages looked a little poorer but the mountains surrounding them were amazing.
The border crossing was a bit overwhelming, Jess did a great job and got everything done fast, he'll fill you in on the details.
Jess here, and after sitting for a week the battery on the bike had drained low...I think it has to do with a relay activated air-horn that I mounted on the bike before the trip...I think the relay is slowly draining the battery...anyhow, let's fix it!
We couldn't find jumper cables anywhere, but there was an old VW Beetle on the property...so with the help of a 10 year-old boy who was the son of the caretaker, I removed the VW battery and swapped it for the one in the bike....it ended up being weaker than the bike's battery!
Ok, time for Plan B...I convince the 10-year old, Manual, that he should wake up another guest who has a car...he obliged and now we have the donor car...but still no jumper cables. The owner of the donor car turns to Manual and asks him if he has any cables, wires, or anything at all...he says yes and comes back with 110 volt cord that he cut off from a lamp! So now we're going to put 700 cold cranking amps through that thing! Hell yeah...viva Mexico!!! But I'm putting my helmet on for this one!
Just then, a lady walked in with jumper cables...our Plan B was foiled by a belated but much improved Plan A! I really wanted the Lamps Plus jumper cables to work, but we jumped the bike the proper cables and got our butts on the road.
After about an hour and half, we're at the Guatemala border....wait what happened to the Mexican border crossing??....oh yeah, I forgot, there isn't one! Literally you go through a military checkpoint a few miles from the border, where they check northbound traffic for documentation, but if you're headed south, you just drive right out of the country!
Arriving at the Guatemalan border crossing, I realize that it's a dude with his finger on a sawed off pump shotgun that just lifts up a board to let cars pass
Another undercover cop with a .357 on his belt came up to me and pointed me in the right direction for immigration and customs...the people ended up being extremely helpful and after 30 minutes and 8 bucks we had our immigration visas, the temporary import documentation for the bike, and we're on the road again!!!...in a new country!!! I love it!!
OK, Malin again,...so now we're in Guatemala!!!! WOW, I felt as we just entered Middle Earth... but instead of hobbits walking around there were these beautiful indigenous women in their colorful trajes walking by the side of the road carrying their crafts in bundles on their head! The landscape took our breaths away and I almost forgot to watch the road (I am a good backseat driver...) because of all the beauty surrounding us. We started climbing the mountains and soon we were pretty high up and it became cold and yes...the very much anticipated afternoon thunder storm. Everything in front of us turned black and we just had to drive right into it. By now Jess is a great "rain rider" but it still turns my stomach because you can't see a thing in front of you and today for example we didn't realize that the road we were on turned into a one-way and all of a sudden we're hitting oncoming traffic
Overall my first impressions of Guatemala are great! It looks like people are a little poorer here, things are definitely dirtier, and older. Traffic is CRAZY everywhere!
Xela (formally known as Quetzaltenango)...our first destination in Guatemala! We checked in to the first hotel we saw because again we were wet and hungry. The hotel is on the zocalo which turned out to be the best location in town and everything worth seeing was within a couple of blocks! The first night it was still raining so we ran across the street to this packed cool, cozy bar which served beer and pizza. Perfect opportunity to discover the Guatemalan cuisine...no seriously though, this bar was awesome. There were mostly young Guatemalans and I felt we got a glimpse of what it might be like if we lived there...believe it or not this is the first bar we've been to on this whole trip!! The music was Spanish/Mexican/Guatemalan pop/rock and the food was excellent. We consulted or travel guide and it turned out this bar is the oldest bar in Xela and was established in 1934.
On our way home we checked out the zocalo at night time and ran into a religious parade of some sort
The next day we spent sight seeing and walked around town and went to the Museo de Historia Natural...which turned out to be horrifying! I don't want to describe the whole thing because it was crazy but it involved a room full of stuffed animals that had not been preserved correctly so the stench was out of this world and there were class jars with every dead animal/brain/insects/human babies, anything you can think of....
Hey Jess here...I thought the Museo de Historia Natural was hell on wheels!! It felt like Marilyn Manson had invited us over to his house to check out his armature taxidermy collection! Malin is right, the smell was horrible...these things have been rotting for decades...I kept joking around asking Malin if she wanted an ice cream cone to chew on while we perused the exhibit!! My belly ached from laughter after this afternoon!