You've Guat(emala) be kidding me... by Nick (and Bec!)
Bec finally got sick of having to correct all Nick's grammar and mistakes ...hence the highlighted bits! This is going to be a different blog post from us!
And so here we are after a not such a long crossing through the border of ceibo
(that should be El Ceibo!),sort of 3/4 of the way,northish,between comma-space-new word Mexico and Guatemala.
We had,this time prepared well,found a step by step post ( paint by numbers kind of thing that even I could follow )on social media sorted our selves out on the Mexican side .Getting ( or not as the case may be ….. nooooooo internet) our passports stamped…….. eh,what bloody difference does that make …ITS A STAMP …. oh well no dramas handed the TIP Im glad you all know what a TIP is! in where the poor girl promptly burned herself getting the vin from the headstock ( a little difficult to read as it’s surrounded by the fairing) I did try explaining that Honda had put a nice sticker on the frame for that purpose but to no avail. Hope you all remembered to breath during that epic ...and lets face it, very confusing sentence.
Suitably sorted we negotiated soldiers,guards,people,dogs comma-space-new word and sheep ( yes sheep) and went onto phase two of the crossing about 40 m up the road and onto Guatemalan soil.
Sweating profusely by now but still talking to one barely!!! another we got our passports stamped while everyone was watching the World Cup,this may take a while kind of watching. for the love of God, comma-space-new word OR full stop-space-space-new word!!!
These Guatemalans are very cheerie not what you expect from officialdom
Phase 3 TIP form ( or forms and more forms in this case) filled in
You will need copies of your copies ……… ta daaaaa Bec had them ready ( remember we had done some proper research this time)
Another oh our internet is so slowwwwww mannouver,all sweet we are very chillaxed kiwis remember!
Take this form into town pay your fee get a receipt come back and we’ll sign you off.
Off we went ……. It’s the World Cup on tv here too …. Well knock me down with a feather if that didn’t take a while as well.
Receipt finally checked off and currency obtained ( quezels quezels??? isnt that a chippie? pretty sure I have been paying for things with Quetzals for the past 3 weeks! here about 5 to $1nzd) given the “your good to go “ as we saw some illegal sheep rush through the border without stopping, could be a plan forming here for our next border I think.
Only metres in and we realise already how different Guatemala is ,yes security is ever present , but we’re used to that by now, the people here seem to smile more ,the houses ( or mud huts in some cases) more colourful and there’s less rubbish,the roads though need your full attention as they suddenly have cavernous potholes appear in otherwise perfect seal .You also have to quickly learn to dodge people eating (yes eating) rubbish in storm drains, children / toddlers often watched by parents filling potholes in to earn money from passing motorists who will sometimes tip them ( insane).
We’re aiming for a Mayan site about 400 kms away wow! and you acuse me of exagerating ...it was 220kms and have to ride quickly before nightfall to get there.
It’s pure jungle here with humidity in the 90s again an exaggeration and temperatures inexcess of 30 deg c. and when we saw the pool we jumped right in.
Bec had located a place to stay right next to the entrance so we could start our visit early the next morning BONUS.
Its all very Dactari here( look it up people) with mozzie nets over the beds and ceiling fans for ventilation ,power turned off at 9 pm also a couple of times during the day ,not power cuts but physically turned off ,and howler monkeys screaming their heads off at night…..we absolutely loved it!!
The morning saw us waking early plastering ourselves in insect repellent ( don’t forget to take it with you as you’ll soon find out it wears off after a few hours and you’ll spend time swatting and cursing as the mosquitoes eat you)
We have during this trip seen so many sights that have overloaded our senses in so many ways but the sheer size of this park is immense ( around 80 ha ) and that’s only the area that’s been uncovered.It leaves so many unanswered questions, why did it disappear,estimates of 100,000 plus people BC and AD,where did they all bugger off to and not just here but all over the americas as they couldn’t exactly get on their I phone and say “sorry guys but this Mayan thing has done it’s dash!!”
The temples were immense the biggest with steps going up to just short of 100 metres highest was 62 metres ...can you see a pattern forming or is it just me? ,fine going up but coming down…… not great if you suffer from vertigo 🤔.
Under the canopy we could watch monkeys after seeds in the trees ( I’m sure they were throwing them at us i dont blame them)parrots zooming between the branches and soldier ants crawling around with loads that were far bigger than you thought possible.
This was only day three of Guatemala and it had already impressed us.
The following morning saw us heading out with every vent open on our gear towards our final destination final destination??? is it??? really??? in the south of the country ( with an over night in Coban enroute)to Antigua where we would commence our Spanish lessons for the next 3 weeks.
Another epic ride ensued taking the twisty route through mountains covered in jungle with that greenhouse smell of vegetation and spa like heat .We end sentence-fullstops-space-space-new word ...there is no bloody space before a full stop!!! we’re greeted with looks of wonder( not hostility)as we trundled through many of the small villages many with trailers connected ready for the sugar cane harvest which dominates most open areas , I hadn’t realised how wet this plant likes it but it seemed to be standing in large areas of water .Even the houses in the lower reaches had water upto their doors,a aaaaarrrrrrrrr!!!! mozzie heaven if ever I saw one.
Time and distance here is not too dissimilar to NZ ,on the back roads at least,so gauging end point can be a challenge ,the main thing is to go with the flow .
About halfway we found ourselves at a river and had to find out ,with very bad Spanish,how to get across.It turned out for $2nz we could throw the bikes ,together with the locals ( who found our caper a little funny)onto a lancha and get across the river and continue on our way.
The other side found us in the midst of a full on market day right to the waters edge ,we slowly made our way through people walking shoulder to shoulder ,dodging dogs ,women in native dress ( unbelievable colours)carrying everything bar the kitchen sink on their heads whilst also carrying children bags or all three combined,and vendors selling everything from trinkets to slabs of meat.This was a theme that carried on for the rest of the journey in the mountains/ hills only interrupted by smoking kamikaze buses or people trudging home with their shopping ( these people walk everywhere).
We continued on our merry way towards a rendezvous just shy of our final destination in Antigua where we had kindly been asked to join the Guatemalan Cb500x owners club in a park en route which would take us through the Guatemalan capital, aptly named Guatemala city,flippin heck it was vehicular madness personified ,Cardo ( intercom)saved my marriage on several occasions , when Bec And I got split up by a few cars ,with comments such as “where the $&/k did you go can I please add here that it was NICK having a panic attack and saying where are you and not Bec! “to “I’m going into that gap NOW!!”
we joined the group who made us really welcome with food,beers,stickers and pictures,helped us book the bikes into a local dealer for service and new tyres and asked us to join them for a local ride out in a few days time.
We made our new B and B late afternoon in Antigua and were glad all of our fillings were secure as we negotiated its cobbled streets.
This was originally the capital upto the early 1700s mmm.... 1773 isnt what id call early 1700's ...if i really wanted to split hairs id remond you this was the 18th century until when it was demolished by a large earthquake ( it sits nicely on the ring of fire and surrounded by volcanoes one of which erupted in 2018……..)
It still is a beautiful town to wander through.But these people like to party not only with music but also with bloody great bangers going off when you least expect it so if you ever come here expect many spilt cups of coffee or make sure your heart meds are to hand!
Monday saw us starting our spagnol Spanish SPANISH!!! my eyes literally just rolled to the back of my head lessons and as the week progressed realised 4 hours a day was quite enough than you very much!!
Both of our heads hurt with the practical side but also written,reading and VERBS sections.We did realise after a few days that not only were we understanding more we were also able to start making comprehensible sentences with people.
Thursday saw us making our way to the big smoke so we could leave our bikes for their service.Traffic was at a complete standstill and it was at this point Bec decided she would like to give filtering ago ago??? dont you mean a go? and you are trying to learn a NEW language! ( frying pan into the fire springs to mind)
ICAN freely admit MY WIFE IS OFFICIALLY NUTS! can't work out if this is a compliment or insult?
Off she went moving her head around like an owl following the locals through and down gaps with panniers rubbing doors and mirrors
All I could do was watch and follow gasping or swearing or both!!
It was at this point that Google decided to ( we later found out) take us through the most dangerous gang controlled back streets of the city which were littered with breakers yards (dismantled cars/vehicles) on the side of the road and equally hard stares from the locals, “just keep bloody riding love and don’t stop”.
We arrived safely and The service manager at the shop ( great modern shop ,but with three armed guards two!) said we should wait within the shop grounds for our Uber as it wasn’t really safe to wait in the road .All normal stuff for these guys.
Saturday saw us doing a reverse trip to grab the bikes in the rain .
Our Uber driver this time was a lovely lady who corrected us on our Spanish pronunciation and taught us a few more phrases and words .
That evening saw us treated to a Xmas parade to a level we had never experienced before with endless floats, dancers,marching bands and the obligatory heart stopping bangers …..oh and a run ( it was funny to watch as they dodged the procession and public)round town thrown in for good measure ,the entire place was packed with public, vendors and the obligatory beggars
What a night!!
Get ready for our final instalment of Antigua.