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Antiqua, Guatemala to Copan Ruins, Honduras 4/11/08-4/17/08

April 22, 2008

After several days in Antiqua, we caught a bus to Santa Cruz del Quiche, then rode back north to Sacapulas to continue where we left off a week earlier on our easterly journey.

After getting a 6 AM start (to beat the heat) we climbed up through mountains covered with pines and checkerboard cornfields, then plunged 2000′ to Cunen for a fabulous Guatemalan breakfast: two meals of coffee, roll with fried bananas and sour cream, beans, corn tortillas, eggs, salsa and toast for $6 U.S. including tip!

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After breakfast we coasted downhill for a 1000′ drop, followed by a not-so-steep 2000′ climb, then finally descended into Uspantan, of course we made our daily stop to visit the man pushing his ice cream cart along the road. We had homemade coconut ice cream in homemade cones for 14 cents apiece! We were able to find a really nice hotel room for 100 Quetsals ($14 US). The rooms here almost always have an electric shower head, that heats the water from a 110V heating element and work quite well as long as you keep the water flow low enough to sufficiently heat the water, making it almost on position OFF! Consequently, showers can be very frustrating and if you are lucky enough to forget about all the exposed electric wires above your head and reach too high, you get an electrical shock, so it is never a relaxing time at the end of a long hot day!

We woke up the next morning to intermittent rainstorms and decided to forge ahead anyway, since we were eager to see more of the beautiful countryside, besides, it was not chilly rain! Everything kept getting much greener and the country more remote as we traveled east into some of the highest mountains in Guatemala! We had a long, pleasant descent right away. Ralph likes to conserve his brake pads and get a thrilling, fast ride out of it, riding no-handed at 30mph with his arms outstretched to make him feel like he is flying! You really need to try it sometime, (Pat says “NOT”)! And for a real thrill, lean forward until your chest almost touches the handlebars – now that’s flying!!!! That morning, with the rain-soaked roads he had both hands on the wheel. A curva peligrosa (dangerous curve) came up fast, Ralph was going a little bit too fas, and was braking when his tire slid out on the wet asphalt and did a power slide hitting the concrete curb and flipped landing in the sand/gravel bank of the road cut. Thankfully, he had just a few small scratches and a slightly jammed shoulder, and no damage to the bike. Thanks Mom, we knew you were praying for us that day because it could have been a lot worse!

We descended the road to the river below, then after a short climb the pavement ended and (you guessed it!) the road became dirt/mud!! Needless to say the rest of the day consisted of a few long waits for construction crews who were redoing the steep road, pushing bikes up half-built switchbacks thru 3 – 6 inches of mud, and stopping to clean the bikes so we could push them again! In the middle of all this mess we saw a man on a motorcycle swerving and sliding toward us down the muddy road and it turned out to be David, our friend we had met in Steamboat and who is also riding to the tip of South America! Another chance encounter out in the middle of nowhere!!! We continued on to the town of Santa Cruz de Verapuz making it right at sunset and flopped into bed after washing all the mud off of us and the bikes!

Leaving there we pedaled thru beautiful forests of pine trees alongside palm trees and lush green fields of corn and coffee on vertical hillsides! The end of the day brought us down into the hot, dry flatlands at El Rancho Junction with only one hotel to choose from – which was not the most pleasant place to be! We paid the $7 U.S. for a room, locked the bikes in the room, very quickly took a cold shower with our eyes mostly closed and hung out at the restaurant next door the rest of the evening where it was clean, cool and comfortable! The restaurant was so spotlessly clean you could have eaten off the floors and the hotel so dirty you would not want to admit you slept there! It has been by far the most disgusting place we have yet to stay on our trip! We layed on top our sleeping bags and were very careful not to roll around and not turn on the lights (need I say more?)!!

The next 2 days took us thru river bottom agricultural land, followed by gradual climbing back up into the pine forests until we reached the Honduran border, then rode the 6 miles into Copan Ruines, a touristy town just across the border.

Oh Guatemala we will miss your colorful, friendly people with ladies dressed in long skirts, hand-embroidered aprons, colorful blouses, a child slung from a colorful wrap across your shoulder, while 1 – 3 children walk alongside you and a load of the days goods to sell stacked high on your head and perfectly balanced in a wicker basket! We will miss your lush green mountains waterfalls, clean highways (always with a shoulder to ride on), courteous drivers (for the most part), children in school yards running to the fence to greet us, mud hut houses with pigs tied up to trees while teenagers talk on their cell phones on the front porch! And men in long striped colorful trousers, a colorful skirt over that, long-sleeve shirt and a straw wide-brimmed hat! Ladies sitting in their dirt-only front yard weaving very, very colorful pieces of cloth and their baskets of colorful yarn beside them! Men with oxen and plow, colorful chicken buses with goods for market stacked high above with one man climbing up and down the outside the bus as it speeds down the highway spewing black smoke back at us! Oh Guatemala, we will certainly miss you and thank you for giving us reason to return for another visit someday!

Bikin’ On, Ralph and Pat

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4 comments

  1. Glad you guys made it safely on the mud road to Santa Cruz. It was just as crazy in a little Peugot, we beat that thing up. Best of luck!


  2. What a thrilling time you are haveing. Thanks for taking me along for the ride.

    I am no longer at Pancho Villa State Park, I am in an apartment in Deming. So if you ever get here again—
    Mountain View Apartments # 25. I can always rustle up some grub and a bed.

    God Bless and keep safe

    Diane


  3. Oh, yeah,

    no touchee las cabezas de agua con electrica…buzz…buzz! That guy you had to evict had his antiques in the space next to my shop and made lots of noise for the upstairs tenants..then was arrested in the largest bust of a drug distribution network in Colorado history.
    still snowing here..global cooling has arrived!

    Good stories, Mark.


  4. Hi Guys!
    Continue to follow your exciting journey with awe. Don’t think we will take a trip to Peru any time soon although a very good friend of ours is from Lima so we may visit him and take in Machu Pichu.
    We are just about to head down to our place in Los Ayalas (beside Guayabitos) – I think you travelled through that area a number of months ago.
    Look forward to reading your next entry and looking at the pics.

    Take care.

    Doug and Ev



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