Friday, November 5, 2010

Lago Atitlan

Daryll writes:

We hadn’t been on the bikes for just over 2 weeks and it was good to be back in the saddle.  The route between Xela and Panajachel on Lago Atitlan was on the Pan American Highway and was a fabulous smooth dual lane highway at the start of the day.  It progressively got worse and in many spots, the highway was diverted to the opposite side of the road and now turned into a single lane obstacle course.  Much of the Pan American was destroyed due to the massive landslides both Mexico and Guatemala suffered about a month ago.  If this is what the Pan American Highway looked like, I don’t even want to think what the other secondary or country roads look like.

On the way to Panajachel which is located on one of the 3 largest lakes in Guatemala and surrounded by 3 volcanoes (non-active), we dropped from an elevation of 2,999m/9,839ft to 1,589m/5,213ft in under 45 minutes.  The road leaving the Pan American down to Panajachel was a steep, twisty, pot-holed road and was slow going.  There were some freshly paved sections though, but this didn’t last for long.  We spent 2 days in Panajachel and wondered around visiting the lake several times during the course of the day and evening to try and get a cloud-free view of the volcanoes situated on the other side of the lake.  I also managed to get some bike maintenance in by checking and tightening all the bolts and cleaning and lubing the chains.  We were originally going to camp; however after inquiring about the cost of camping thought better of it and managed to get a hotel for the same price and only a block away from the lake.

Volcan San Pedro
Sunset over Lago Atitlan
Over the last few weeks, I have been corresponding with a couple from Salt Spring Island, BC, who are also doing a similar trip (Naomi & Alberto – Taking the Road South) and riding 2 BMW F800GS’s, so we planned to meet up. We missed each other earlier in the day, but finally got together for dinner and it was great talking to them about their experiences.  They are such a fun pair.  We hope to meet up with them again in Antigua and I’m sure our paths will cross several times over the next few months.

Naomi & Alberto
Since leaving Xela, I feel that we are on a whole new trip due to the amount of Spanish both Ang. and I have picked up.  We are better able to communicate and ask the questions that we need, whether it be directions or even reading a menu, and I’m sure that the more practice we get in, the better we will become.  I have even got to the point where I can joke around with either street vendors or waiters that are pestering us to either buy their merchandise or visit their restaurant and we all have a good laugh at the end.

Now being on the road in Guatemala for a few days now, I can swear that Guatemaltecos are the worst drivers that we have encountered thus far.  All drivers have a death wish especially the bus and taxi drivers.  They have no hesitation in cutting you off, passing on blind corners and accelerating when there are clearly warning signs indicating one to slow down. 

After Panajachel, we got back on the Pan American to head to Antigua.  As we had set out pretty early in the morning, it was foggy out and we could barely see 100m in front of us; so it was slow going.  We had to keep our visors open as they would constantly mist up, which meant that it was really cold.  On the way to Antigua, passing through one of the towns, I caught footage of this, it is not everyday that you see bus passengers climb out the back of a bus.

oneworld2explore - vid 3 from Daryll Naidu on Vimeo.

New photos added to the Guatemala photo album.
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  1. Wow that's a different way to exit a bus!! I'm sure the stories will get to be much more interesting the further you travel. Love the blog, wishing you safe and exciting travels...Tanis.

  2. Greg writes, I am a huge fan of Valconoes so the more pics of them the better. Ride safe as I have a feeling the drivers will get worse! LOL.. Greg and Jill

  3. That is a new definition of move to the back of the bus......Ha.

  4. Yeah, those chicken buses are pretty crazy. There's a porter/money taker on each bus that runs up the ladders attached to the back to carry luggage up and down and this is happening while the bus is moving. I saw one guy carry 4 folding chairs up to the top to store them! More volcanoes pics coming tonight or tomorrow:)