Puerto Escondido, Mexico – Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, January 20-23, 2013

January 20, 2013

We got on the road early today – the weather was a cool 70 degrees.  The ride was along the coast for the first hour, then turned inland.  The landscape changed to a more arid terrain and the temperature rose.

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tunnel

tunnel

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We stopped at Sam’s Club around 11:30 to see if they had malaria medicine (we want to be ready for the jungle in Guatemala!), and ended up having pizza for lunch – it wasn’t bad!

Passed through a town with yet another type of taxi…. this one is a motorcycle pulling a cart.

taxi

taxi

Within the next hour as we rode on, it became very windy – the gusts were really strong.  Not too much fun on the motorcycle.  We were wondering if a storm was blowing in until we saw the windmills…. miles and miles and miles of windmills!  A strange sight to see towering over the locals simple homes.

windmills

windmills

Decided to pull off the main highway and check out Puerto Arrista…. found a hotel on the beach and got settled in.

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In 2010, the town was hit with a huge wave – most of the town is a wreck!  The beach is pretty, but very windswept.  We walked around the town, over to the lighthouse- not much to see… kind of a sad little place!

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Tomorrow we will cross into Guatemala!

January 21, 2013

We were on the road at 6:15 am after Scott had a nice cold shower 🙂  We have come up with our own criteria when looking for a hotel… 1)  We will not take the first hotel, but will look at two or three, 2) The room must have a/c or heat (depending on the weather),  3) it must have hot water,  4) wifi, and 5) a secure parking lot….

Sunrise

Sunrise

It was 70 degrees – perfect for riding and watching the sun rise.  We hit a couple of military check points.  At one, we were stopped and asked to open our cases.  Scott opened two – the guard moved some things around and looked inside.  I opened my side, unzipped my bag and stood back.  The guard sees my lacy underwear and puts his hands behind his back, looks very embarrassed and mutters,  “Okay”   On our way again….

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We ride through some beautiful ranch land.  There are beautiful trees blooming in pink, many cows and horses.  Then there is the ever-present smoke and smell of burning trash.

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We have seen some interesting things in the back of pick up trucks….horses….P1040346

pigs (lots of these!)…P1040367

pigs

pigs

Furniture and always people…

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The road is two lanes each direction.  The semi trucks like to ride down the center which can get a bit sketchy when we are passing.  Another interesting driving tactic is a driver with his left signal on – it could mean he is turning left…. or it could mean he wants you to pass…. deciding which it is can be tricky!

We got to the border of Guatemala about 8:30 am.  It took about two hours to get through customs.  A guy offers to help Scott with the process, but he is trying to get some cash (the short guy in the yellow shirt –  the other two men are money changers).  They, along with several other guys, followed Scott around the entire time like little gnats.

Scott with his "helpers"

Scott with his “helpers”

Waiting in line for the Banco

Waiting in line for the Banco

By the time Scott got everything taken care of, we were hot, thirsty and hungry.

lunch

lunch

We drive for a little while until we see a restaurant – stop for carne asada…

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We needed an ATM, so we got some direction to one in the next little town – Carolina.  The main street was all blocked off because of market day, so Scott leaves me with the bike while he walks six blocks to the ATM.  I had fun watching the ladies go to market – they wore pretty aprons will ruffles and pockets, must be like their purse – that is where they would put their money, etc.  The 3-wheeled taxis, tuk-tuks, drivers were all over the place taking people to and from the market.  The tuk-tuks would get all jammed together and then lay on their horns continuously.  I had a few people stop and try to talk to me, but most just stood in the doorways and on the sidewalk and stared at me.  Scott finally got back and we were on our way.

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This is the land of tall trees and short people!  The terrain has turned to thick jungle.  As we go north toward the Pan-American Highway, we are climbing in elevation quickly until we are well over 8,000 feet.  It is cloudy and drizzly and in the upper 60s.

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We come to a town high in the clouds.  The fields on the steep hillsides are being worked by the villagers – it looks like a patchwork quilt.  We stop at one hotel, and decide to see what other options there are.  As we drive through the narrow cobblestone streets of the town, the villagers stare at us.  We stopped at a little market to get a pepsi.  As we sat for awhile, the villagers that passed by would look at us solemnly.  We would say “Buenos Tardes” and their faces would light up, grinning they would return our greeting.

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We drove through the town and realize there are no other options, so back to El Paso A San Martin, the hotel we looked at…  our room is about 10 x 12 and hasn’t been cleaned in awhile, we are hoping the sheets are clean….(?)  I took a warm (?) shower while Scott tries to talk with some guys in the restaurant.  Disco music is rocking – hope it doesn’t go too late tonight.  The guys in the restaurant don’t speak English, but they are singing loudly to American rock.  This hotel has secure parking – I guess one out of five isn’t bad. I slept in my clothes….. 🙂

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Scott’s drinking”buddies”P1040397

Anna, with baby on her back,  and Daisy Anna Bella

Anna, the hostess and cook, prepared us hamburgers (Guatemalan style) for $6 total – not too sure what kind of meat was used…  She has 3 children, her oldest daughter is Daisy Anna-Bella.

January 22, 2013

Took off early – 7:30 am – put our liners in at 46 degrees.  Got to the larger town of Quetzaltenango and ate breakfast at McDonalds – it is nice to have something familiar to eat, even if it is McDonalds!  We would never choose McDonalds at home, but it is a whole different story here!

Me and Ronald (don't I look petite?!)

Me and Ronald (don’t I look petite?!)

Quetzeltenango

Quetzaltenango

Quetzeltenango

Quetzeltenango

Quetzeltenango

Quetzeltenango

Quetzeltenango

Quetzeltenango

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Quetzaltenango

Quetzaltenango

As we left Quetzaltenango, we climbed in elevation to pine trees.

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Reached Lake Atitlan – driving through some of the towns small narrow streets are quite challenging!

Solola, Guatemala

Solola, Guatemala

Solola, Guatemala

Solola, Guatemala

We continue until we reach Panajel – and find a beautiful hotel – Posade Don Rodrigo, right on the lake.

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlan - making tortillas at the hotel restaurant

Lake Atitlan – making tortillas at the hotel restaurant

Lake Atitlan hotel

Lake Atitlan hotel

Lake Atitlan - view from our room

Lake Atitlan – view from our room

Lake Atitlan Hotel

Lake Atitlan Hotel – great nap spot

Panajel - hotel grounds

Panajel – hotel grounds

We had fun wandering around town – this is definitely a tourist spot…. we are continually being stopped and asked for money or to buy something.

Panajel

Panajel

Panajel - canoes

Panajel – canoes

Morning on Lake Atitlan - before the clouds form

Morning on Lake Atitlan – before the clouds form

Panajel

Panajel

Panajel

Panajel market

The hotel restaurant is very expensive (caters to international tourists!), so we opted to walk around town to find something to fill our stomachs.  We ended up at a pizza place that was actually pretty good – we sat at a table next to the front of the restaurant.  We realized that maybe we should have chosen a table further back because every person that had something to sell would stop at our table to show us their wares.  When our pizza arrived, a cute little girl came to our table selling some trinkets, so Scott gave her a piece of pizza.  Immediately, another child came up and also got a piece of pizza.  Soon we had a crowd of little children wanting pizza!  The waiter had to plant himself in front of our table to discourage them.

After our meal, we noticed a little dog waiting patiently on the curb – Scott tossed him a piece of bread, which he ate politely in the street.  He followed us all the way back to the hotel.

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Sunset view

Sunset view of Lake Atitlan

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