Trip Start Jan 20, 2004
187Trip End Ongoing
For the whole week therefore, we felt we had the 30 km of sandy beach to ourselves. Or rather, I had it completely to myself, as Gerry had reached the peak of a head cold when we arrived, so decided to sit out the first day. Clad only in bathing trunks, he spent the day stretched out in one of our lawn chairs, reading and snoozing, and moving the chair only periodically to remain in the shade of the trees
We fortunately didn't have a lot of activity planned for the week, so were quite content to laze around and be total beach bums. A mangrove swamp at the back of our campsite was home to hundreds of birds, including many varieties of egrets (white and pink), herons, kingfishers, and numerous brightly coloured exotic smaller birds. We enjoyed canoeing through the area, especially towards dusk as the reflections and colours deepened and became luminescent. As night fell we watched the stars appear - Orion, our constant companion, directly overhead, and later the Big Dipper, standing on its tail, rising in the east.
We left our van parked for five days before finally travelling to nearby Tonalá, simply to seek out an Internet Café and to stock up on groceries. We didn't have many food requirements though, as it was simply too hot to eat much. Lunches consisted mainly of fruit - pineapples, mangos, mames, bananas, and oranges, plus our avocado and tomato salads. Each evening, after our fifth or sixth shower of the day (thank goodness for the cold water showers!), we had a ritual of watching the sun set over the sea
On the 1st of March we were ready to move on into neighbouring Guatemala. The first 245km of highway was rather a nerve-wracking drive, as the Mexican officials had just that day turned a two-way road into a one-way only, as part of an improved dual-carriageway road system. This in itself was not a problem, but the fact that many of the locals living alongside the road either weren't aware of the change, or were justifiably annoyed at the inconvenience it presented, resulted in their continuing to travel both ways on it! According to our trusty Lonely Planet Guide, the most southern border crossing at Ciudad Hidalgo would present us with the least number of hassles. We planned well, ensuring our arrival at the border before lunchtime and the possibility of "siesta" delays. Knowing from previous experience how frustrating the border crossings can be, we were feeling rather smug as we approached the dividing line into Guatemala
Nevertheless, we made it into Guatemala later that afternoon, but soon found ourselves inching our way along the C-2 highway, having to share the road with dozens of monstrous sugar-cane trucks on their way to and from the huge factories. In addition, a popular young soccer player, Danny Ortiz, had died tragically on the field in a freak accident the night before, so hundreds of people lined the highway to pay their respects as his body was transported to its final resting place. It was a relief to finally recognize our turn-off, after which we would begin the steady climb from the coastal lowlands at about 1000ft to almost 7000 ft in the highlands in just over an hour. Darkness had fallen, and we reminded ourselves that driving in Guatemala is not really a good idea in the night......but we were determined to reach our destination!