Ves ATW

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Veselko, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Roach report for yesterday. This guy was too big to fit under the door, so as he swiped by it, he actually opened it. Then he went under a rocking chair leg, and that was the end of him... had to do it.

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    Coming out of Juchitan hit those crazy crosswinds again, and they're taking full advantage of them; they have the densest windmill farm there I've ever seen. Both sides of the road from one mountain range to the other.

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    Nice ride overall after the crosswinds. Either two lane or divided four lane. Very lush and green, low mountains on both sides, very few towns, and what there was were small. Some small cattle ranchers and other farms (Duck as soon as you smell them, cause after the smell comes the flies). Just the occasional car, truck or motorcycle. 90's F and 94% humidity... whew!
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    In Escuintla for another night. Small town in the middle of nowhere, maybe a mile square. Took a walk around. It's bustling and has all the essentials. Soon as I arrived and parked so I could figure out where I was staying, a guy pulls up. His wife, him, and a very young kid on an Italika 150cc bike. Asking how fast the DR goes. I think he was disappointed when I told him maybe 100 mph (~140kph).

    Staying at a place that has an enclosed courtyard and this guy:
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    He's tucked away in a corner so didn't see him at first. When I got into my room, I heard a woman screaming outside at the top of her lungs, like she's getting murdered... It was the parrot. He makes various noises but that blood curdling scream is something...

    At this point we could call this the RTW ABB Tour... Around the world Air B&B tour. Except for one night, I've stayed at Air B&B places. And I'm amazed at the fact that even smaller towns always have at least one or two places. And I'm renting entire homes sometimes for as low as $10/day. Even when I'm just renting a room I can use the kitchen, so I'm also saving on food by cooking my own and not eating in restaurants all the time... not that the restaurants are that expensive (meals for a few bucks) but buying food and cooking it is still less expensive. So, room $10-30 ($30 is the extreme, averaging about 18-20), gas about $7/day, and food maybe another $5-7/day. And it's getting less expensive as I go further south. Nomad insurance is about $2.70/day. Full coverage motorcycle insurance was about $3xx for six months, but I'll only use it for three months in Mexico, so it's a good chunk. Borders. Tolls. Tires. Oil changes. Eventual shipping costs ($8/day assuming shipping once every six months). It will be interesting to add it up and see what it comes out to on average.

    Tomorrow, border crossing into Guatemala.
    #61
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  2. DirtPoorOverland

    DirtPoorOverland Adventurer

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    Following! Sounds like a great trip thus far! Hope to do something similar myself one day. I know its a long way off but if at all possible, as you go north through Africa, definitely want to try to make it around the West/North side of Lake Victoria into Burundi and Uganda. BEAUTIFUL countries. Excited to see how the rest of the trek to South America goes!
    #62
  3. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Thanks. Yeah, it is a ways off, but I'll keep it in mind! I'm kind of excited to see how it goes myself... :ricky

    And I just accomplished a feat of complexity i didn't think was possible (maybe I'm exaggerating a bit). Ordered new tires from a Mexican supplier, to arrive in Cancun in August, when I'll be there... going back up that way after the Spanish class for a few weeks, to spend time with mi novia. :crash
    #63
  4. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    The worse part of the border crossing was the heat and humidity... by the time I was done my shirt was just soaked. Yeah, got attacked by people trying to tell me to stop and I need this and I need that. Based on MplsMoto's writeup on how to get through the border I kind of had an idea, but a couple of these guys were actually helpful and got me though the process faster than if I would have muddled through it, so payed them a few bucks for the help. The money exchanges were there too. Wow, talk about needing to know the exchange rate... At first the guy was going to give me like $600 Quetzal for $2000 pesos. I showed him the current rate is around $800 Quetzals to $2000 pesos (used a little app called currency XE), so we got to something more reasonable. It beats having to find a place to exchange.

    Like I said, MplsMoto wrote it up, but I'll summarize.
    - As you approach the border the rush of helpers starts. I just kept going, slowly.
    - To the right there is a parking lot with security patrolling it. So, I just left my bike and stuff there. Money changer came there. The helpers came there. I exchanged my money.
    - Walk back to the street, go right along the sidewalk, through a one way turnstyle, left across the street, left again, on the sidewalk, little ways down are double doors with a guard. Enter there and get in line to cancel your Mexico Visa.
    - When done, exit, go right a little ways, then left back across the street into the parking lot.
    - Get on your bike, out of the parking lot, turn right go up the street, up a little on the right is the fumigation guy. I drove right buy him actually... they spray just the underside of the bike I made sure they weren't going to spray my tank bag and bag in the back. While they spray, there's a window right behind him. Pay $16 Guat.
    - Pull up like 1/4 block, on the right is the building where you get your Temporary Import. I just parked the bike there. There's guards, there's cameras, it's safe.
    - Then I walked back about 1/2 block to the Guatemala Immigration. Gave them my passport, said I had a motorcycle to import, they held my passport, I filled out a form, brought the form back, got my passport stamp and copy of the form.
    - As you face the street, to your left is a copy service. $1 Guat per copy... Passport main page and visa page, title, registration, your Mexico Temp Permit (by the way, I did not cancel mine coming out of Mexico, it's good until November, Guatamala had no problem with that), a copy of the copy of the form you just filled out at immigration, and your license (they don't care about international license).
    - Take the originals, of the above, and the copies, to the building where I left my bike up the street.
    - A nice lady comes out from behind the window, checks the papers, walks with you to see the bike, check serial number etc...
    - You come back in with her, she prints you out a bill for $160 Guat, sign it in two places
    - Walk out the entrance opposite where you came in, to the left is a bank. A guard lets you in. You give the paper and your money to the banker, he stamps your receipt.
    - Make a copy
    - Take it back to the nice lady. She comes out, gives you your originals, walks out, gives the papers to a guard who verifies her work.
    - She slaps a sticker on your bike.
    - You slap her on the ass and your done and dusted... Welcome to Guatemala! Just kidding about the ass part!
    - Took about one hour, very little waiting, and it did help to have the guys who knew this routine.

    It is a little crowded around there. I went up the road a ways, parked it in the shade to have some water and a snack. Struck up a conversation with one guy asking questions about where I was from, going, etc.. Talked for a bit, he knew a little English I know a little Spanish, it works... Pleased to meet you and I was on my way again.

    I was disappointed to see speed bumps again, I thought that was a Mexico thing... guess not. The road to Quetzaltenago was a narrow twisty thing going up into the mountains. A lot of first and second gear work. It got downright cold, and it felt good! More slow trucks belching dark smelly exhaust, cars burning oil, big trucks trying to go down narrow streets made for some slow spots. Two hours from the border, took about 3+.

    Horses and cows grazing on the side of the street. A guy walking a cow across. Herds of goats munching their way through town. Chickens doing their thing. Street vendors selling mostly fruits.

    My digs for the next few days are a humble room in a humble house with a very hospitable and humble family. The mother speaks no English, the teen age daughter speaks some, and with google translate, we're communicating. Communication is a good thing. Language barriers suck, make us think we're different, but we're not.

    Quetzaltenango is definitely on the map. It's got McDonalds and Pizza hut... and the streets are in decent shape...

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    Today I calculated my mileage and the DR is getting just over 59 miles/gallon! Can't beat that for a fully loaded bike! I keep my tire pressures high and use synthetic oil... Engine and exhaust are stock.

    The weather here is comfortably cool, in the mountains. I'm told that in January it does get cold, but does not snow. This is the rainy season (April to Novemeber), which means it usually rains every day. From the pattern over the last couple days, seems to be mostly in late afternoons and evenings. So, when traveling, good to get an early start and hopefully make it to your destination for the day before the rain starts again. Going on a steep twisty road like today, in the wet, would really slow things down and add pucker factor.
    #64
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  5. roadcapDen

    roadcapDen Ass, Grass or Gas, no free rides.

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    Y'all hitting up El Salvador?
    I like it there!
    Safe travails...
    #65
  6. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Thanks. I don't know if I'll like it there, but it's on the way! Going in with an open mind.
    #66
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  7. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    So apparently there's a lot of volcanos around Quetzaltenango, active one's. Santiaguito, Santa Maria, Almolonga, Chicabal... One of them had a once in 200-300 year blowup some years ago and the dust reached California. Killed a mess of people in Guatemala. There's a viewing spot, 20 minutes out of town and then a three hour hike, for Santiaguito, which blows up every couple hours. There's something you don't see every day. Did some research to see where this trail starts, found it, and took a ride down to scope it out for a possible hike... Geeeees.. they got come crappy roads around here... Here's a better section of the road that goes out to the start of the trail... It gets worse...
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    Where it ends the road has it's worst section and it just narrows and ends. No nice sign saying volcano this way, no parking, no one trying to sell you beads, just a rocky ditchy road that just becomes an uphill rocky ditch... The red dot mid screen is where the road ends.

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    Before I got there I thought, maybe I could just take the motorcycle on the trail... No, that's not going to work. And can't very well leave it there in a dead end for six hours if I want a bike when I get back. Take a cab to the start of the trail? Is seeing a volcano blow up from a mile and a half away worth a six hour hike? Meh...
    #67
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  8. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Just wandering around Quetzaltenango. Last day here.

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    Blocks of people selling mostly fruit.. but everything else too... so much... so densely packed... sensory overload. And a few blocks from here you can walk into an indoor, four story, sparkling, granite floored mall to rival anything in first world. And you can eat at McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, and Pizza Hut...

    Unfortunately, one of the strong memories I'll take away with me is walking the streets to the smell of gas, diesel, and cars burning oil. Sometimes bad enough that I just held my breath. Away from the main streets it's not that bad. No emission standards I take it. Sacrificing the planet and the health of the people in the name of progress.

    Taking off tomorrow to try and beat a storm to my next destination; two week immersion course in Spanish on Lake Atitlan, at the Guatamaya Spanish Academy. Full room and board with a host family. Plus they support a children's program and the owner leads a conservation program in the area. Sounded like a good place to spend my Quetzals. Didn't read anything about the area when I signed up, but it's supposed to be amazing. Nestled in among the mountains, active volcano (that's amazing, right? right?). No roads that take you around the lake to the different towns, just boats across the water. Of course I've been immersed in Spanish for the last month plus, but let's see how much my brain can absorb in one or two weeks, four hours a day... whew!
    #68
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  9. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    Looks like you will have a memorable ride to the lake!
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    #69
  10. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Yup. Which is why I'm going on Saturday when the chance of rain is less, instead of Sunday like I originally planned. First time I talked to the head of the school he said take the boat from Santa Cruz, that it wold be "easier" than taking the road to San Pedro. I'm like, would a boat take close to 400 lbs of motorcycle. He says take the road, it's all in good shape except for one "@#$%" spot. I'm guessing that squiggly area is it? Told him 600 lbs of me and bike is not going to go well up or down hill in the wet. He says that the uphills and downhills are paved, so even in the rain should be OK... I don't know... on my map it shows unpaved starting right near the squiggly... maybe they improved it since... good news is I'll get to do it in the other direction when I'm leaving! Assuming I make it down in the first place...

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    #70
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  11. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    At least on Google Street View it looks like other riders made it OK and it looks to be all paved...but I did see some rough pothole areas you need to be extra careful with!
    #71
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  12. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Roger that. Got it from a local a little while ago that the road is all paved! As of about six months ago.
    #72
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  13. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Wow, all I can say is if all the roads were as good as the one going to San Pedro, there would be a lot of happy bikers... and there were... bunches of them. But let's start at the beginning.

    Got out of Quetzeltanango early. Stopped for gas on the way out, got ignored by two attendants even after I gestured to them and they took two clients that came after me... Wow, I think that qualifies as the first dumb-ass rudeness experience I've had on the whole trip so far. No problem, there were other gas stations.

    This was the view back to the city after I got up a little into the hills.
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    Nice winding road up into the mountains. Stopped to check out the view a little further along.
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    The best shot I couldn't take. As I crested over into the Atitlan valley... Wow... but too steep, no place to stop, and what there was, was packed with cars. First opportunity I had I pulled over, went though the brush a way and got this view.
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    And here it is, a section of the squiggly, infamous, treacherous, potholed road... not! It was brand new grooved concrete. But don't get me wrong, there are definitely some really sharp, hairy, hairpins. If they were gravel it would be really tough. As an example, a guy was coming up in a car, going around one of the tight uphill sections, and his tires start spinning, on grooved concrete. Only place I can recall where the roads were consistently like that, and four wheel drive was recommended, even though it was asphalt, was on St. John Virgin Islands. Some crazy turns; hairpins and really steep.
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    Stopped again next chance I had...
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    There was a section of road in town, about quarter mile, that was a mess (rutted dust and gravel), but that was the worst of it. Followed the GPS to what should have been my lodging for the night. But it wasn't there. So, had to wait a bit for the guy to come out. Lots of three wheelers and bikes on the island, very few cars. This street was wide, one of the main roads, but some of the side streets barely have room for these three wheelers to get through, and talk about some steep sections.

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    My host came and directed me to a hairpin leading down off this main road... says we don't really have parking for the motorcycle... Can you just put it here in the street? Ah, no, the sidestand was on the uphill side, so had to go down hill a block, turn around, come back up, and then find the right angle so I could use the sidestand. Good news is a neighbor had a garage to store the bike for $20 Quetzels... like $2.60 US. That works. Anyway, the house is here. First go up these steps through here (that's looking back to the street):

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    Then hang a left through here:

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    Then a right, and here we are on the left!:
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    I tell ya, with maybe one or two exceptions, trying to find a house in Mexico or Guatemala... good luck... the streets are never marked, the houses don't have numbers on them, and now we got mazes... too funny...:thumb

    Got myself situated (got the whole lower floor of the house; huge bedroom, kitchen, dining, bath... for $11) and did some walking around town. Not hard, since the majority of it is like 20 minutes across. Went down some streets on my way to the lake, wow, just packed tight as sardines with vendors selling everything from jewelry to fruit, and at least four pizza places that I counted... Guatemalan pizza? I didn't now pizza was a thing here... but i was more interested in the lake view...

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    Some side streets on the way back up...
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    Down by the lake is all the tourist stuff; boat tours, bars, restaurants, paragliding, massage, etc...
    But with all that, be darned if I could find a decent grocery store...

    Interesting that the town banned plastic bags, grocery bags, some time ago. Part of the conservation program the city runs. Nice. And with very few vehicles, it doesn't have that exhaust haze like Quetzaltanango did. The side streets are all cobblestone, some in worst shape than others, but I saw them redoing section.

    The town makes a pretty good first impression.
    #73
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  14. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Made my breakfast and decided to take a ride on the only road leading out of town, goes around the volcano. I don't think you can get tired of these views...

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    The road was nice, and then the asphalt just ends. On the first steep section is a bunch of rocks trying to imitate cobble stones. I guess it was good they were there because it was steep, and the rest of the road had a layer of dust on it, just enough to give you hardly any traction. Engine braking in first gear wasn't enough. Had to favor the rear break. Front and rear going every which way. And yes that's a tree across the road. There was enough room to get around it. On the other side was a guy shoveling gravel/dirt from the side of the road into the ruts, and tamping it down. I stopped, looked at him, he looked at me, I smiled and started moving and he got out of the way. I went a bit further but it was still down hill and didn't get better. That guy has some work ahead of him. That was enough for me. Turned my self around gingerly and went bouncing back up hill. Can't imagine doing that if the bike was fully loaded. Those cobblestones were crazy, and I get amazed at how the DR just crawls up this stuff.
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    Quite a bit of the road was like this with corn growing along the sides. Some steeper than others. I came up on some farmers, one of them was spraying the area right by the street, a steep shoulder going up to the corn field, with some kind of herbicide. I could see the weeds were already dying where he sprayed before. But those weeds were the only thing holding the hillside dirt together. Guess they must have been encroaching on his crops. No getting away from the chemicals...

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    Got back to my casa, ate some lunch, and arranged for my next move, which was only about 5 minutes away. As I was sitting there it dawned on me that here the concept of outdoor/indoor is a blurry line. For example, this is the dining room? It's basically open to the outdoor. There's some plastic corrugation to deflect most of the rain, but the floor is going to get rained on, which is why there's a drain in the middle of the dining room. The second floor was even more open. No windows per say, just lots of view.
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    Same in the new place. This is the "hallway" from the bedroom to the bathroom.

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    And this... is the "sidewalk" to get up to the house from the street. Very steep, and it keeps going for a while. After I was done lugging all my gear up there I was breathing like a racehorse. Talk about getting your exercise for the day...
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    Sat down with the house owners and we talked about meals, when they're served (full room and board), what I eat, and we had a good laugh about my eating habits. All in Spanish with a little bit of translator help. Good people. Going to be a pleasure staying with them for a week or two. Off to class tomorrow morning, bright and early! I'm glad it's at least a week so I can recover from bringing the stuff up.
    #74
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  15. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    Alright. First week of class done and dusted (terminado). Whew. It's intense. Four hours a day, and resulting homework, but it's good. Guatamaya Spanish Academy. If you're in the area and looking to learn some Spanish I give it my thumbs up. After one week there's a lot more Spanish conversation coming out of my mouth already. And where can you get room and board, learn Spanish, and have included activities for $175/week? I'm living on $25/day... pffftttt...

    Teacher to student ratio is one to one, so you go at your pace. My teacher Elmer is awesome. He knows English well, as do the other teachers and administrators there. He's also a professor at a local school. One of the teachers speaks almost no English but she is working with a frikin genius kid from Australia, who after three months of Duolingo, can hold down a Spanish conversation and hardly ever has to ask how to say something. Impressive. My old fart brain doesn't work that well, but I'm definitely making progress. Like daym, did I just say that, en Espanol?! ah ha... [moon walk]...

    The other student (there's three of us this week) is a female from Colorado via Germany, with half her left leg missing... triathlete. Smashed it in a rock climbing fall... 40 feet? But nothing is stopping her. She's written books, rides a motorcycle with a special handlebar shifter, still competes and holds all sorts of records, and plans on sailing around the world... pffftttt... drop the mic and walk off stage... Doctors told her she'd be in a wheel chair rest of her life... clearly she has other plans!

    The funny thing about school is that Spanglish (Spanish English mix) is highly encouraged. Have a conversation, if you don't know something in Spanish, spit it out in English, and proceed. Eventually there's less English coming out and more Spanish.

    There was a hike yesterday (passed, I was cansado), kayaking today (yo tengo unos potos), a sunrise hike tomorrow at 4:00 am... ya, pass on that...etc.. Also, watched a Spanish documentary on how the big cane and palm companies from the US and Germany have taken tons of acres of land from the indigenous peoples, and literally chased them off and burned their houses. This has been going on for years. The sugar cane is used for sugar and also, like the palm, to create biofuels, which are sold as "green" all over the world, at the expense of displacing native farmers. They also divert rivers, creating water shortages for food growers that still exist, and of course the plants that produce the biofuels dump waste, polluting the land and waters. Wtf...

    It is raining here regularly, in the evening, sometimes early, sometimes later, but it gets pretty intense. Lights going out is not a big event. And apparently yesterday about 6:00 pm there was a couple small tremors. I didn't feel them, maybe because I was sitting on my comfy bed. But the lady of the house said it shook her pots and pans.

    The school is only a few minutes walk from my temporary family... up the street, open a rickety door, walk past a chicken coop (pok pok pok pak pok! Fresh eggs!), and up these stair:

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    And that balcony is the congregation area (for breaks), then there's one level up, my teacher and I sit there, and then one more level above that. And that yard looks like some of the road I rode on the other day... ok, not that bad.

    And here's the view from the congregation level:
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    I've been in worse classrooms. Again, inside outside is kind of a gray line... I think the rule is if it has a wall around it, it's inside... if it has a roof it's more inside... the breeze is blowing, birds are chirping... music drifting up from somewhere... noises of the city...

    The lady of the house makes corn tortillas from scratch, on a wood burning stove. They are delicious, hot off the the stove top. The other day, fish was on the menu, lake to plate... cleaned, lightly skinned and cooked up, head and all. Eat it with your fingers so you can pick out the bones... Yum. Seriously, it was delicious.

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    Today we were meeting down by the lake for the Kayaking. Walking there I walked by a Jewish bakery... and the guy is all shalom shalom, with the yam-aka (how do you spell that) and beard... I'm like, dude, de donde eres? it's buenos tardes... I got to the meeting place early and just sat on a street corner watching. There was a pub across the street and all the Tuk-tuk's (the three wheeled taxi/cars) were buzzing all around. Guess they know where their business is... driving the drunks home from the bar... ok, maybe not all drunks. It's an intersection, no light, no stop sign, and these guys are zip zip, three across pulling U-ies, backing up, add some motorcycles and some pedestrians, and I'm breaking out the popcorn... cause this is going to be good... :lurk, also the occasional horn to tell the other guy "yo, over here... look here!" We're talking tuk to tuk and tuk to pedestrian clearances of a few thousands of an inch... And it's all smooth as glass... Then there's a guy on the back of a pickup truck, turning in the intersection and he along with a relatively thin rope are holding a big refrigerator in place... and they're about to go up a 30 degree hill. I'm thinking, you sure you want to be on the downhill side of that fridge? At one point there were so many tuk tuk's and pedestrians and stuff going through the intersection it was like a Chinese fire drill. I could write a book on what happened in like 15 minutes at that intersection.

    Ok, enough with the intersection. Here's some shots from the lake on the Kayak.
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    That's probably the same guy that caught my fish that I ate the other day. Life is good and simple.

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    We'll see how the weather goes over the weekend. Maybe take a short ride, or do one of the hikes. Monday is back to class. Yeah, I signed up for another week... I'm a glutton for punishment...
    #75
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  16. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

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    It was a nice morning... lots of nice mornings here... honestly. The weather is almost ideal. 70's during the day, sunny most mornings and days until the rain comes in, about 70% humidity (not stiffing), 60's at night for good sleeping. Don't need heat, don't need air conditioning. Plenty of rain to keep things green. And actually the lake water is also a very comfortable temperature.

    I was looking at the map. Looks like Lake Atitlan is only one of two big lakes in Guatemala. I was told that the cane and sugar growers in the northwest want to run a pipeline to the lake to suck up their water. The president himself came to the area and the people chased him off, threw rocks at him. That Mayan blood has got some spunk in it! Good for them!

    Well, went back to that road I was on the other day. It rained last night so that settled the dust. No turning back this time. Yeah, some hairy downhills, downhill corners, ruts from water runoff, exposed rocks, some big puddles, those cobblestone/rocks I liked so much. Took her slow and made it to the other side.

    Might have been that same guy I saw the other day, but he was working on the cobblestone section. I don't know what he was trying to say as I went by... can't you see I'm working here? see I'm making the road nice for you?... one gesture I recognized, thumb and finger, cash, mula, tip,... right, like I was going to stop in the middle of this hill on these cobblestones to give him some money... though I did appreciate his work. There were other people working on the road at different spots, women, children... They were just waving and cheering going down and coming back up. Just friendly I guess.

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    #76
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  17. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    CO
    Lazy Sunday... took a 2 mile walk to the beach (ok, guess that's not lazy... but I walked slow), spent a couple hours there, then linner (lunch dinner) at a hilltop restaurant. Dinner was expensive... $6.64... Nothing to write home about, but the view was worth it.

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    Tuk tuk... chicken bus... sans chickens. At least this one wasn't billowing black exhaust smoke.
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    Hola senor, cuanto cuesta la casa? Y puedes tirar a la esposa?

    Rare to see a standalone house. Most of them share walls with neighbors in all directions. There's no secrets here.
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    Enough goofing around, need to do some more homework for class tomorrow.
    #77
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  18. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    CO
    Interesting fact about why Guatemalan's speak Spanish slowly and clearly, and hence why there are so many Spanish schools here... Extra credit for anyone that knows!... Bueller?

    Because it's not their primary language. Mayan is, and the vast majority speak Mayan primarily. I hear it all the time when natives talk. Even in the Spanish school the Spanish and English were spoken for the students benefit. It has a similar sound to native American, which makes sense since they share common roots. But it seems to be spoken relatively slowly, so that speed seems to carry over to their Spanish.

    So, week two done and dusted. The last few days were just grueling; my brain just can't move at that speed. Understanding, yes, but recall, not there yet. I felt like the whipping boy. No, again... no, again... no, again... Muy bien!... faster... again.... again... faster... conjugating irregular past tense verbs like there's no tomorrow... at the speed of light!... That will be a lasting memory, and I'm going to laugh about it every time I think about... It was good!

    Different students had different opinions about it all. Me, though I despised studying language structure in school when I was young (why do I need this crap? I didn't.), and as a result never really learned it, here it definitely helps and I can see how it's going to help in the future. Once you learn some of the patterns, you can decipher much more of the language, and it sticks better because it connects. That's what Duolingo and Rosetta stone are missing, teaching some structure, as you progress in levels, so you know WHY, not just what... And the learning is just beginning.

    This is like a cookie... Made from corn flour and cacao. That's it. Bought it from a local lady. Guess the leaves are just there to separate the cookies. The way it's usually eaten is you break off chunks, crumble it into water, let it sit a few minutes, add whatever else you want, mix, and drink. Can't tell you what it is because it doesn't have a name.

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    Some breakfasts I had French toast. I call it that, but they don't. It's just bread and eggs. Also, had these things translated "little dogs"... yes there are a lot of dogs roaming the streets but hopefully its not that kind of dog. It's kind of like a tamale. Corn flour/meal wrapped in corn husk, with a little bit of meat and veggie in the middle.

    Lots of corn tortillas... the sound of fresh tortillas being slapped between bare hands... day after day, multiple times a day... it's like the dinner bell.

    Simple life, simple food.

    Regarding food. Apparently the changing weather; periods of sun more intense than normal, more erratic rain patterns (not as frequently as normal or too intense at times) is causing problems. Whereas in the past a farmer could grow enough corn to store and have for the whole year, now they're lucky if they can get enough to last six months. The rest they have to import from the coast. Also, the sometimes excessive rains causes avocados and coffee crops to rot.

    There's a lot of poor people here. Weather, corrupt government, and money hungry corporations... coming together to make it difficult to just live a normal life. And not just in Guatemala, other Central American countries too... Sadly.

    This is in the central square/park/church front yard... Or the local stray dog drinking fountain... Couple nights I walked though town. Amazing that in a little town like this, even at 9:00 and 10:00 at night vendors are still out in the street grilling meets and tortillas, some of the stores are still open. Guess you have to grab all the business you can, trying to make ends meet.

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    As Willy sings... On the road again... Going places that I've never been... seeing things that I may never see again... on the road again...
    tomorrow.
    #78
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  19. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    CO
    Riding today was kind of surreal... not sure why. Maybe because I was getting so used to San Juan. My brain was very quiet...
    You want me to think in English or Spanish?... f-it, I'm not saying nothing today, you can just ride by yourself...
    Fiiiineee by me!...
    Bien!
    Fiiiiine!!!
    Bi-en biatch!!!

    Just under 100 miles, From San Pedro La Laguna to Huehuetenango... yeah, say that fast ten times... and... drum-roll please... six hours... yeah, it's like that. It did take the slightly longer way but there's definitely some roller coaster roads! The hills/mountains just don't stop. Don't think I broke 40 mph most of the day, lots of first gear hairpins. There were some amazing views of the mountains, but no place to stop and take a photo. Few towns and some scattered housing. Never got that out-in-the-open feeling today.

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    A good hour of that was just sitting in traffic. The town is having some kind of saints celebration. My intended road was totally blocked off, and every road around there was just packed with cars. Even the motorcycles that normally just zip in and out of traffic were getting stuck. I did some zipping and then some sitting, then I just turned the bike off, took my gear off, and just pushed it a little every couple minutes. Then just finally pushed it to the side and waited it out. Nothing worse than sitting in traffic idling behind a bus in full gear, in the sun... When it started moving a little I just headed back out of town, went down a couple gnarly dirt roads and a really rickety bridge and circled around everything.

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    Yeah, aint no none going nowhere, cause the horses are out and prancing...
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    My digs. Nice courtyard and kitchen. But the bedroom is a jail cell, and there's two sets of bunk beds in it. Caretaker says the're doing it as a hostel and Air B&B. It will have to do.
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    Still don't know how I'm going to sit in that chair...
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    And, made a friend... small kitten... not sure if she belongs to anyone... but I fed it, so guess it's mine... HA! What's the penalty for sneaking a cat across the border?
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    And of course, safely behind locked steel doors...
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    8:00 at night the parade was still rolling, even past this place... sirens, horns, chicken buses all lit up and flashing like Christmas trees, fire engines, trucks, a hatchback full of speakers with lights around the woofers that synced to the music... Nice...

    My bike is seeping oil over on the drive side, somewhere behind the drive sprocket cover. Normally I'd say just grease from the chain lube, but it's definitely wet... hmmm... I'm guessing it's just oil seeping past the stator wires seal. I'll have to look at it tomorrow and make sure it's nothing serious.
    #79
  20. Veselko

    Veselko Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2017
    Oddometer:
    87
    Location:
    CO
    Woke up early and took a walk, about 6:15. The city was still mostly sleeping. A few cars and buses belching black smoke, a few people walking to school or work. At one point the smoke almost totally obscured the vehicle belching it... Exchanged buenos días's with most of the passer by's.
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    Found my way to what seemed to be the central park. Some street vendors were out, some people mulling around, a blindfolded man and a little boy sitting on the sidewalk begging... What can you do about something like that? Is there enough money in the work to fix whatever problem put them there? Is it just a natural consequence of the human existence... the statistical outliers needed to fill out the bell curve of life? Why does life have to follow the bell curve? Or at least, why is the curve so wide? Why the large extremes? Why can't everything be closer to center? Ok, not everyone can be rich, can they? Or maybe we're all rich in different ways. True, but probably a copout too. How is that man, and his little boy, rich? They probably slept there in the parking, because you don't wake up at 5:30 in the morning, from a warm bed, to go out and beg in the cool morning air, when there's hardly anyone walking by. Why is the man blindfolded? Is he blind, ashamed, or is it easier to give a pittance of money and not have to look the person in the eyes? Or is it all just a ploy... Blind man, little kid... Surely people will feel sorry for them?

    That's a lot of questions... But no answers.

    Walked a couple miles to the near town to see the Zacuelu archaeological site. Clearly all Mesoamerica used the same architect.

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    #80
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