Quit our jobs, sold our home, gone riding...

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by lightcycle, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    679
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    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/82.html

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    Quetzeltenango is quite a mouthful, but the town is also known as Xela (Shay-La), its indigenous name. It's the second largest city in Guatemala, and it's where we're going to stay for the next week learning more Spanish. As in most Latin American towns, the main square, called Parque Central is where most of the people congregate, day and night, and after classes we take the opportunity to walk around and people-watch.

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    This church is called Iglesia del Espiritu Santu

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    Candles vendor outside the church

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    Intense lunch break at Parque Central

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    More leisurely lunch break, man's best friend in tow

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    Neda's Spanish teacher, Susanne. Hours of fun dialog everyday!

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    Our Spanish school has tables scattered all over the building, with teachers and students paired off one-on-one

    Xela is quite a popular place for Spanish classes. Since it's a university town, there's an air of scholarliness everywhere, and it's not uncommon to see coffee shops and diners filled with students deep in study in a textbook. And the tuition fees are a fraction of what we paid in La Paz! We are amazed at the disparity in prices between the two countries. Mexico now seems like a such first-world country compared to Guatemala in terms of the modernity but also how expensive everything was!

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    Shopping in the market after classes, schoolbooks in hand

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    Street vendors having a yak and a laugh

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    Waiting for a bus

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    A couple of fellow students took us to their favorite Mennonite bakery. Yummy pastries here!

    Spanish is still coming very slowly for me. The accent is a little different from Mexico (they say Guatemalans speak a purer form of Spanish, closer to Spain), and some words are bit different here. Plus I'm not a very scholarly person to begin with... I barely scraped by in school and had (still have) trouble sitting still for long periods of time and concentrating on a single task. Neda is the complete opposite and if she had her wish, she'd be a student for life.

    What I really enjoyed about our Spanish school was that every evening, they had extra-curricular activities planned. One night we took some Salsa lessons, and another day, Mario, my Spanish teacher, took us sightseeing. We hiked to the top of a lava dome called El Baul, overlooking Xela to get a better view of the city.

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    The view was nice, but these slides at the top were way more fun! Neda may be a bright Spanish student, but she's a little slow at slides...

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    March beneath our school windows for International Women's Day

    Another trivial comparison between Mexico and Guatemala are the size of the food portions. Both our homestay and restaurant meals were very modest-sized and made our Mexican meals seem Texas-Super-Sized. Because I lack self-control when it comes to eating, I'm very glad that the portions here are normal-size and I can feel myself losing the Taco-Gut I gained in Mexico.

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    Night-time brings out amazing colours in the old city

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    We passed by this vendor's stall every day on the way home from school

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    Buildings around Parque Central

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    Our school is located inside a beautiful colonial building called Pasaje Enriquez, right in the Parque Central. On the ground floor are several bars and restaurants

    On another evening, our school organized a dinner for all the staff and students, and we spent the evening getting to know each other. This was such an amazing opportunity to hear stories very similar to our own. Travellers to Guatemala seem to share that very rare sense of adventure and we all nodded our heads to the familiar questions from back home: "Why on earth do you want to go to Guatemala/Central America/etc?" It was a question that none of us needed to answer, as we already knew.

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    Birds of a feather, flocking together over dinner

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    After dinner, we went out to enjoy Xela's very vibrant nightlife

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    Students and teachers mingle in a nightclub

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    Peruvian pan flute provides a soundtrack to our lively evening
  2. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

    Joined:
    May 29, 2002
    Oddometer:
    19,540
    Location:
    Fort Collins, Colorado
    I see you're in Xela. very cool.
    I'm sure you'll visit Lake Atitlan (san pedro and panajachel), market day at Chicicastenango & Antiqua.

    You mentioned there are no great CA GPS maps.
    I've found this package top notch & it's routable.
    http://www.bicimapas.com.mx/LatAm_Eng.htm
    many times better than the free one.
  3. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
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    Currently - Canada
    We took the same gravel road. It was lots of fun! The slide was impressive.

    Great updates. The picture of at night with Neda standing by the door is front page worthy if it had a bike =(
  4. GP1200

    GP1200 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2011
    Oddometer:
    382
    Ah yes, it is an epidemic in Ontario. That and ending each sentence with the intonation of a question, as if you are unsure of every statement you make. It started with 12 yr old girls and has spread like wildfire. The Cdn version of a valley girl. Please make it stop
  5. Shibby!

    Shibby! Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2010
    Oddometer:
    1,669
    Location:
    Currently - Canada

    *sigh* When I listen to WOMAN in their 30's doing it I want to slap myself. You aren't a tween anymore. Grow the F* up.

    Sorry =)
  6. Jick Magger

    Jick Magger Exile on Main Street

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2011
    Oddometer:
    861
    Location:
    Okanagan Valley BC, Canada/Scottsdale, Arizona
    :freaky Now that's Canadian.
    Enjoyable ride report guys. I have been following along since you got started. Bummer about about the theft, but in the grand scheme of things merely a bump in the road on a monumental trip. Stay safe and enjoy the ride. :thumb
  7. lightcycle

    lightcycle Nomad

    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2006
    Oddometer:
    679
    Location:
    No Fixed Address (originally Toronto)
    Updated from http://www.RideDOT.com/rtw/83.html


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    During the middle of the week our Spanish teachers, Susanne and Mario, take us out on a field trip to a local town just outside of Xela called San Andres Xecul to practice our Espanol.

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    Waiting for our "bus" to fill up before heading out

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    And we're off! Transportation Guatemala-stylez!

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    View of San Andres Xecul from the top of the hill

    San Andres Xecul is a quaint little town set against the mountainside of the Guatemalan highlands. It's famous for its brightly coloured yellow church. After the Spanish invaded Central America, there was much suspicion of the Catholic church, so as a peace offering, this church was painted in indigenous colours to entice them to attend.

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    Thursday is market day, so the town square was filled with women either selling or buying stuff. And children supervising the process...

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    Candles sold outside the church

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    Spanish hymns were softly sung at the front of the church, the devotion is palpable in the air.

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    Most of the women wore the colourful, traditional clothing of the indigenous Maya

    My teacher, Mario, is very knowledgeable about the history of the Maya. He told us that to this day, the indigenous population is largely discriminated against by the rest of Guatemala and treated very poorly. The main differentiator between the Mayans and the rest of the society is their native clothing, and some modern Maya (mainly the men) have given up traditional garb in order escape discrimination and to secure jobs. The women face less pressure as they either work in the markets or look after the children, and are more able to display the clothing of their past with pride.

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    Rearranging the "storefront"

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    Personal grooming is very important in sales

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    Accompanying mom to the market

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    Brightly coloured church overlooks all market transactions

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    Trying to get a good deal...

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    So much character in the people and the streets of San Andres Xecul

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    San Simon - not your average Saint...

    Mario took us to a private residence, and we walked through someone's living room, through their backyard into a shed where a shrine was set up to the Mayan god, San Simon. Worshiped by the ancient Mayans as a symbol of male sexual power, today he is depicted as a man dressed in 20th century clothing, smoking a cigarette with bottles of booze around his waist, sometimes carrying a rifle. I am not joking.

    San Simon has been denounced by the Catholic church and he has been identified with Judas Iscariot. All this makes the "outlaw saint" even more popular with the indigenous population. Many shrines are set up in private houses hidden away from the authorities, and different coloured candles are sold to visitors so that they can be burned at his feet to bring success, wealth and power.

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    Our teacher Mario looks on, while Neda asks San Simon for his blessings in our travels

    Different coloured candles signify different meanings. Blue is supposed to bring good luck for travel, white is for spiritual well-being, yellow is for personal protection and red is for luck in love. There are also black candles, and those are meant to wish ill will or harm to others! San Simon is not really a saint, but an amoral Mayan god that is supposed to grant all wishes, good or bad.

    It's easy to see the allure of such a deity amongst the downtrodden indigenous population.

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    The "patron saint of drunkards and gamblers" looks on in satisfaction while our candles burn at his feet.

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    The ground is covered in melted wax from all the other visitors who have come here with candles in hand and prayers in their hearts.
  8. redleger

    redleger Horrible Mechanic

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2013
    Oddometer:
    588
    Location:
    Tornado Alley, Oklahoma
    Keep on living the dream man. This is inspiring.
  9. pastou

    pastou www.2mil.fr

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Rueil - France
    A guy i met last year during a rallye, who is a great R1200GSA rider, decided to drop everything except his wife :)
    They sold the house,and purchased a world tour truck....
    1000l tank, for approx 5000km autonomy... offroad + 500l potbable water...

    They will be gone on the road this summer !!!!arghhh such a wonderfull dream :) :) :)


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  10. Turkeycreek

    Turkeycreek Gringo Viejo

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
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    1,319
    Location:
    Banámichi, Sonora, Mexico
    You two continue to amaze. Many writers get lazy and stop altogether. Others just sort of phone it in. You, on the other hand keep delivering great writing and great photos. Thanks uno mas for sharing your experiences.
  11. X Banana Boy

    X Banana Boy stuck in the office

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    Aug 30, 2005
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    1,960
    Location:
    St. Louis

    Do they have a website?
  12. eakins

    eakins Butler Maps

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    Fort Collins, Colorado
  13. DrydenRider

    DrydenRider Sun Seeker

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    Just ahead of a flat line.
    Totally agree +1
  14. Rockwell

    Rockwell Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2008
    Oddometer:
    670
    Location:
    Ontario
    Paula and I are doing a different route this time. We're heading out to the eastern part of Canada and then flying over to Iceland. From there, we'll ferry to mainland Europe and head down to Morocco and northern Africa, and possibly to parts of The Middle East. If you guys make it out that way, let us know. :D
  15. iowarider123

    iowarider123 Wanderluster

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2011
    Oddometer:
    15
    Location:
    Somewhere in Iowa
    Dear friends:
    Just wanted to thank you for the excellent trip report, especially for the nice pictures/comments about Guatemala. Im proud to be a native Chapin, left Guatemala as a child... so your report has brought up excellent memories of the place. I have been to most of the places on your pictures but you have helped me appreciate it from a different point of view, with a focus on the simple things that I might have missed. Yes, the people of Guatemala are its greatest asset. The bulk of the folks there are so friendly and nice, especially the indigenous (once they get to know you). Reading your report and all the other reports has also inspired me not to loose my faith in the human spirit. This site shows the best us humans have to offer: A little kindness for one another. Over and over, right when it seems its the end of the road for someone here on their trip somewhere, a helping hand is offered. A shade tree mechanic half welds something for you, an older lady cooks up something out of what she doesn;t have, a couple decides to take you under their protection and offers a place to rest... all random and unplanned, all a result of their humanity pitching in to help someone in need. They ought to make this site a require read in any schooling endeavor... it shows we are all one and the same.. mere humans riding the cosmos in this beautiful plannet earth. Cheers to you and may God protect you and keep you. If you run into a bind, I know a few folks there that might be able to pitch in. :clap:clap:clap
  16. SteverinoB

    SteverinoB EstebanarinoB

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2002
    Oddometer:
    577
    Location:
    Orangeville Ontario Canada
    Finally stumbled across your RR and enjoying immensely. Like the meandering style , the pics and...the food pics. Great stuff.

    Happy Trails...Steve
  17. cavebiker

    cavebiker Old School Adventurer

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    Hayward, WI
    Super!:clap
  18. pceire32

    pceire32 Irish

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2010
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    956
    Location:
    Santa Monica CA
    Just catching up with your report after a three week ride to seeing and petting the whales in Baja.
    Try and get to the weekend market in Chicicastenango if you go early in the morning like 6am there is an Farmers animal market on the outside of town. Llamas and many other strange animals for sale. The rest of the day the whole town is a market, but I enjoyed the indigenous people and the animals at the early market a lot more.
    Great report.
  19. Sansibar

    Sansibar RoadRunner

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2013
    Oddometer:
    11
    Location:
    Southern Germany
    Hey Neda & Gene,

    :clap

    first of all - thanks for sharing this great views on that part of our world - fantatstic RR!

    However, I´ve got two questions: When I get it right, both of you use the Metzeler Tourance tire? How do you like the tires on different road conditions (gravel, tarmac, wet, dry), especially on the 650 GS? I am planning a 4 week ride (Denmark, Sweden, Norway) on mixed gravel and asphalt with my YAMAHA Tenere and the bike is currently eqipped with the Tourance. I am a bit concerned, whether this tire can handle these conditions.

    Secondly, which style & type of camera(s) and lenses do you use? Especially, the latter would be interesting.

    Thank for your answer in advance, enjoy yor ride!

    Cheers, Marc
  20. Trane Francks

    Trane Francks Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2012
    Oddometer:
    646
    Location:
    Tokyo, Japan
    Neda's on a 650, methinks.