06 November 2002 - Bienvenidos a Guatemala
Well, today was border crossing day. I was expecting a pain in the ass, but it was cake. I had to go to four different offices within 100 yards, and two of them twice, but about $10 and 20 minutes later my passport was stamped and I had an import sticker on my bike. I did not have to hire a kid to help me through, I did not have to bribe anyone.. Way too easy.
The roads so far in Guatemala are interesting. The quality changes every few miles.. Sometimes it's perfect, brand new pavement, then you'll cruise through a corner and at the apex the road turns to crap.. Pothole central, reminds me of the road south of San Felipe to Puertocitos in Baja, Mexico, for those of you out there who have been there. Then it will change back to perfect, then to dirt for a few miles, then to potholes.. But generally, so far, there is more good than bad...
And apparently Guatemala is where all small enduro/dual sports go to live out there lives.. There are billions of old 2 and 4 strokes down here. 185 four strokes seem to be the most popular.
I'm in Quetzaltenango, widely known by it's native name, Xela. And I'm up high.. somewhere near 8000 feet. I was over 9400 feet on the way here. I will spend the night here and head out tomorrow towards Antigua.. Or I may stay another night here or stop at Lago de Atitlan.. We'll see. Once I get to Antigua, I'm holing up for a while, learning some Spanish, doing some maintenance on the bike, and resting. I've done 5000 miles in about 3 weeks on slow roads. I'm averaging about 40 mph. So I need a break from riding..
05 November 2002 - Palenque, Agua Azul, and Misol-Ha
I have not updated this in a few days, even though I did work on it the other day.. Anyway, I've been off to Palenque (Mayan site) and back. Stopped to see Cascadas Agua Azul, a really cool waterfall place, with as advertised, blue water. Took a swim, hiked around a bit, and continued on.
Got to Palenque yesterday afternoon and headed straight for the ruins. Pretty amazing, again. They were at their height in the 700s, and were not discovered again until the 1700s. They were completely taken over by the jungle, which surrounds it. Many of the buildings have yet to be excavated, and are still part of the jungle. I walked around, taking many pictures, and climbed to the top of several of the pyramids. Sat on the top of one of them, looked at the view, and listened to the howling monkeys.. They don't howl so much as make a sort of eery loud breathing noise. Sounded like the soundtrack from some bad horror movie. Pretty cool.
After finishing checking out the ruins, I headed down the hill and checked into a little campsite right next to the ruin entrance. Then I walked across the street and haggled with a guy who offered ultralight flights over the ruins. $25 later, I was in the air, flying over the ruins. It was very cool. I've never been up in an ultralight, and what better place than over ancient Mayan ruins. Took a video of the landing too, came out pretty good.
I stayed at the campground, and woke up early this morning and headed back towards San Cristobal. Stopped on the way back at another waterfall, this one 30 meters tall! Misol-Ha was a pretty impressive waterfall, and you could walk around behind it and into some caves. Very cool.
Anyway, I'm back in San Cristobal today, and will leave tomorrow. Hopefully to Quetzeltenango, Guatemala tomorrow, but that depends on how long the border takes.
03 November 2002 - Riding in the Rain & The International Festival
So last night I calculated 600 miles to my next stop.. Not doable in a day. Then I realized that it was 600 kilometers, which is less then 400 miles. That's doable. I woke up early and got out of Oaxaca.. About 30 minutes in the rain started, and lasted for the next 200 miles. Then it cleared up for 100 miles or so, and rained hard for the last 50-75 miles. There was some serious flooding here in San Cristobal de las Casas. But I made it here by 5, and quickly found my chosen hotel.
I went out to dinner, checked email but did not upload, and walked around town. Quickly found a huge crowd next to the church in front of a big stage. So I wandered on over. Turns out it was the last night of the international festival, and they had a Chinese dance troupe of some sort. They were pretty good, but I have no idea what they were.. Seems like everywhere I go there is something going on nowadays. Either they just party all the time here, or I've been getting lucky. Anyway, pictures and vids in the photo section.
I am probably heading to Pelanque tomorrow, depending on the weather. We'll see.
P.S. Paul, by the way, these pants are only waterproof for about 2 hours of rain. Unfortunately, I had significantly more than that today.
02 November 2002 - Hierve el Agua (boiling water)
I checked out the maps and realized that I couldn't really see Hierve el Agua and still make it out of here today, so I'm staying in Oaxaca again. I went out to Hierve el Agua today and checked it out. It reminded me of the hot springs outside of Bridgeport, California on Highway 395.. Similar channels of leftover minerals. The one cool thing about this place is it had these huge waterfalls, that were no longer waterfalls, they were just the remaining minerals, making them look like ice.
Anyway, I'm back in Oaxaca tonight, then heading south towards Salina Cruz tomorrow.
02 November 2002 - Dia de Meurtos
So last night I went out to grab some food, and headed up to the main square, about 3-4 blocks from here. As I got there, I heard a band, and there was a parade coming down the side street. Marching band (or more like walking band) and a bunch of people in costume dancing and carrying on.. It was pretty damn cool. As I walked around more, I found more of these impromptu parties, different bands, different dancers.. Pictures and some videos are in the photos and video sections. The whole square was packed with people, all in a festive mood.. And the bands were pretty good and playing some catchy tunes.
They also have these weird breads with dead people's faces on them that they eat.. I have no idea what the meaning is, but hey, these are wacky Mexicans.. Maybe someone out there can shed some light on the subject.
01 November 2002 - Tons to tell...
It's been a long day and half since I last wrote. I tried to update this yesterday afternoon, but the internet cafe in Puerto Angel didn't have a network, so it would have cost me 4 pesos (about 40 cents) a minute to upload this.. And that's too much.
Anyway, Jonty and I decided yesterday to move to the next town down the beach from where we were.. Mazunte. It was nicer, as the road didn't go past the beach.. We had to ride through a cut chain link fence and through a cornfield to park our bikes, but we then were right on the beach, and it was quieter.
Jonty spent the afternoon playing beach soccer, or as he would call it, beach football. I alternated between the chair and a hammock reading. Good times.
In the evening, a storm kicked up out to sea. It was amazing. Lightning strikes every second or more, lighting up the clouds, the ocean, the peninsula to our right. I tried to take photos and videos, but it did not work. I am at a loss words in trying to describe this, it was pretty amazing. The storm remained where it was for hours and hours, producing this amazing light show for the whole night. Something you had to be there to experience. This French guy I was talking to about trying to take pictures said he doesn't take pictures, he just remembers. I told him I wanted to capture it for friends. He said my friends should just take vacations, then they could experience it as well. I agreed..
Also last night, when Jonty and I were watching the light show, four or five Mexican kids started lighting off fireworks.. Big bottle rockets, firecrackers, and those jumper sparky things. The amazing thing was, these kids were 4 and 5 years old. They were having the time of their life. We both commented that behavior like this was not tolerated where we were from... It was pretty funny. And of course, the fireworks getting shot into the ocean quickly deteriorated into the fireworks getting shot at each other, the kids running and screaming and laughing as the bangs and pops exploded all around them.. Pure joy from something as simple as a firecracker. And, not one of them even lost an eye!
This morning I got up and headed out. Jonty is trying to wait for his friend Chris from San Francisco who is trying to get his motor rebuilt, so he is going to hang out in Mazunte for a while. We may try to catch up again in Guatemala once Chris either catches up or gives up.
The road to Oaxaca was unbelievable.. It went from sea level to over 9200 feet back to 5000 feet in less than 100 miles.. Talk about twisty!! It took a while, but was very enjoyable.. Plus, I went from sweating damn near constantly for the last week or two to freezing my ass off. It gets cold at 9000 feet. But I'm really getting used to the handling of the loaded GS, and it was fun.
I stopped for some comida on top of the hill at this tiny little restaurant and worked on my computer. The proprietor's two kids were enthralled by my computer. I showed them pictures of the playas (beaches) and then brought up the built in camera and showed them pictures of themselves.. They were thrilled, but had no idea how it was doing it.. One of the quick videos I took of them is in the photos section.
Came into Oaxaca, checked into a hotel, and headed up to Monte Alban, an ancient city (dating from as early as 500BC, but most current buildings date from 300-700AD). It was a priest run society that controlled the entire region. Some of the pictures show the surrounding valley, which is where the po' folk lived and supported the priests. The buildings are pretty amazing. One of the coolest things was they knew about earthquakes and designed the buildings with special features (that I can't describe) in order to minimize damage.. Pretty damn advanced for 1500 years ago.
As I was walking around there, the rain (ominous looking clouds all afternoon) finally let loose, and I was unprepared, and so got completely soaked riding back to Oaxaca (only about 5 miles). Luckily, my hotel has water that is nearly hot, so I took a nice shower and bought some cheezy poofs. Yay.
My toe still hurts, especially shifting, as some of you know the old BMWs are not the smoothest shifting bikes.. but I think I'll live.
Anyway, off to Hierve el Agua tomorrow, then heading towards Palenque, an ancient Mayan city.
31 October 2002 - Paradise
We rode yesterday from Acapulco to San Augustinillo, just west of Puerto Angel. This is an amazing place. Camped right on the beach, water is amazing, waves are perfect.. Paradise.
On a sour note, last night Jonty and I raised a cerveza for SF friend Art Grant, who was killed recently. God speed Art.
I further dampened things a bit with a badly stubbed toe, ripping out a big chunk of flesh. Oh well, at least I have an extensive first aid kit. Anyway, I'll survive.
Spending the day here, drink a cerveza or two, and eat some more shrimp. I had about 14 good size very fresh shrimp last night for $5, and I was kind of bitching because it was so expensive.
Also, there's a special video in the photos section, check it out.
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