On The Road Again

by lwsaville

And I’m traveling again and coming up on a year without news…. without bloglee even having arrived at Xela, a location where Ground Breaking Profundities happened (things were experienced). Current thinking is running along the lines of not hashing back through All That blog after blog, but taking things up as they are here and now without preoccupation directly after a summation (the summation being understood as something very different from the events that passed. It’s just the faint fog of the breath of a Jamaican bob sledder after stepping into a climate he’s never experienced before).

Flash overview to Xela: From San Cristobal to El Chiflon, a pretty waterfall and swimming in place in the river.* Up to Comitán, on the way kissing the girl from Tzimol* (raw chicken chopping hands politely held behind her back), and out to Zapatista territory and lake Miramar. After dragging the bikes along the horse trail from the lake we grab a boat down the river and pop out on the road that runs along the Guatemalan/Mexican border, visiting Las Lagunas de Montebello. I get stung by a bee when he somehow finds himself in the space between my big toe and the sandal on my foot, my weight threatening to crush him.* Eating presumably the last mexican tacos we cross the border and decide to strike out ambitious, fording a bridge-less river and pushing our bikes up a long red/orange powdery dirt stretch to San Andres Huista. I ride a few miserably steep stretches alone as the wiser parts of the current group know when to say enough is enough. We decide to split when Sarah and James want to check out Nebaj and surrounding area while I think it could be good to squash an extra week of spanish into the planned timeframe. I make my way into Xela that very night.

The largest waterfall of the series at El Chiflon

The largest waterfall of the series at El Chiflon

The man himself, Emilano Zapata, on the side of a house.

The man himself, Emiliano Zapata, on the side of a house.

An attractive and fun bit of the road into Zapatista territory.

An attractive and fun bit of the road into Zapatista territory.

Three generations in Nueva Providencia.

Three generations in Nueva Providencia.

Three kids in Nueva Providencia.

Three kids in Nueva Providencia.

Camping at Lago Miramar.

Camping at Lago Miramar.

Team work up and down the gullies on the horse trail to Lago Miramar.

Team work up and down the gullies on the horse trail to Lago Miramar.

The last Mexican tacos for a spell. I hadn't supposed I'd be back three times to Mexico from Xela.

The last Mexican tacos for a spell. I hadn’t supposed I’d be back three times to Mexico from Xela.

James inundated with curious children in San Andres Huista. One might be led to believe that there aren't so many white kids on bicycles in their neck of the woods.

James inundated with curious children in San Andres Huista. One might be led to believe that there aren’t so many white kids on bicycles in their neck of the woods.

Xela: Only one of the Spanish school’s I check had someone on staff and so it’s there I start my Spanish learning experience (after having successfully taken my required language courses in highschool, passing with ok marks, but with very little attention actually paid; successfully forgetting basically everything as well). The three planned weeks turn into four and I’m still not particularly feeling keen to cycle. When Sarah and James decide to continue I decide to stay, getting a couple of part-time jobs (with the terrors of time commitments… two English schools and in a local gringo bar). I’m not pumped on the work so eventually get out of it. Xela in summation: language school, parties, La Parranda, salsa, waking up to kill bed bugs, working in Kings and Queen, working teaching English, Heidi,  buying clothes wearing JEANS!, cooking and baking, conga lessons, trips to the beach, to La Mesilla, San Cristobal, Chikabal, and Lago Atitlán, a big earthquake, the market, bakeshop, Walmart, reading, dance videos. The biggest point being the lovely Heidi, who I met in the Salsa Rosa dance school. After saying I would leave the next month many times, I ended up staying in Xela for a total of around 9 months. In the end after finally saying I was going to leave, this time seriously, she’s decided she’d like to come along and so is planning to meet me in Colombia so we can cycle South America together (go big or go home).

That pretty girl Heidi and my ugly mug.

That pretty girl Heidi and my ugly mug.

The lovely Heidi aboard a taxi boat in Lago Atitlán

The lovely Heidi aboard a taxi boat in Lago Atitlán

*These events I consider missing pieces of my childhood being lived at a later time. The school yard kiss and being stung by a bee. Swimming in place in a river; slowly redeeming a childhood (it should be noted that this note is not meant to belittle the childhood I had… but that these seem to me to be classic childhood type events or activities that I really hadn’t taken part in).

We can now move on to the recent past. Cycling turns out to be a little bit difficult after hanging out for nine months and the landscape of Guatemala dogged me. I made my way from Xela to Lago Atitlán to spend the weekend with Heidi in San Pedro before starting out in earnest, taking the ferry to Santiago Atitlán to ride around the southern edge of the lake. A first for me, sleeping in the market in Patzicía, was followed by a short day on the easier highway into Antigua. The lovely free camping in Antigua was disturbed by a slight cold succeeded with a parasite session (the current guessing says Amoebas were the responsible party), stretching my stay by a number of days. Parting from Antigua I skirted Volcán de Agua and set my sights for Laguna de Calderas on the edge of Volcán Pacaya, making it all the way to Lago Amatitlán to sleep in the Starbucks show finca for Guatemala. Leaving the finca I made a break for the border, expecting to come up shy and stay in a town on the way. While stopping for a coco I was chatted up by a girl and her mom and they started feeding me! They took off saying that if I was able to reach a certain town I could eat a chicken dinner at the house of a relative. Doubtful of making it (the town being the last in Guatemala, 2 km shy of the border) I set off. The road conditions cooperated and after an interesting set of conversations trying to find the family (I had misunderstood part of the family history) someone was nice enough to call the daughter and they showed up to fetch me. Their generosity was incredible and I ended up sleeping in a spare bed after a swimming session in a local swimming hole (naturally fed from a cave that was home to a cloud of bats), and being fed a heaping breakfast as well. They even accompanied me to the border to shield me from the crazed money changers. In El Salvador I climbed up to Apaneca and cruised down to the hip international beach town of El Tunco where I have been vacillating over my next moves.

Serious. Pensive. Adventurers don't ever take off their headlamps.

Serious. Pensive. Adventurers don’t ever take off their headlamps.

The last night in San Pedro I had a room with a view. I quite think Lago Atitlán is at it's best in the morning.

The last night in San Pedro I had a room with a view. I quite think Lago Atitlán is at it’s best in the morning.

At the dock waiting for the ferry to Santiago Atitlán. I traveled in the boat on the left hand side.

At the dock waiting for the ferry to Santiago Atitlán. I traveled in the boat on the left hand side.

A new first: camping in the market. Complete with a security guard/sanitary service gringo show when I cooked my dinner in the corner.

A new first: camping in the market. Complete with a security guard/sanitary service gringo show when I cooked my dinner in the corner.

The Antigua tourist police camping area has a bit of it's own ruined, run-down flavor and a place to lock my bike up.

The Antigua tourist police camping area has a bit of its own ruined, run-down flavor and a place to lock my bike up.

Some serious caravan travelers hashing out a round of chess. They even had a pet chicken in addition to the big white dog. You might be able to barely note the animal skull pegged to the inside of the door of the caravan.

Some serious caravan travelers hashing out a round of chess. They even had a pet chicken in addition to the big white dog. You might be able to barely note the animal skull pegged to the inside of the door of the caravan.

The mysterious tire bubble that apparently self-inflated within the side-wall of the tire. Found after a periodic braking error, which actually was the bubble hitting the chainstay. Was a bit frightened at first because the symptom felt alarmingly similar to That One Time in Alaska in which I cracked a rim along it's braking surface.

The mysterious tire bubble that apparently self-inflated within the side-wall of the tire. Found after a periodic braking error, which actually was the bubble hitting the chain stay. Was a bit frightened at first because the symptom felt alarmingly similar to That One Time in Alaska in which I cracked a rim along its braking surface.

The mysterious tire bubble that apparently self-inflated within the side-wall of the tire.

The mysterious tire bubble that apparently self-inflated within the side-wall of the tire.

The campesino who quickly did a bit of my work for me when I was dealing with the mysterious bubble in my tire. Took a sec to get him to look into the camera.

The campesino who quickly did a bit of my work for me when I was dealing with the mysterious bubble in my tire. Took a sec to get him to look into the camera.

Mary-Lynn and Maria on about to take off after the first round of feeding me. A cold coco, bananas, nuts, fruit gummy and some chinese desert version of rice-krispy treat were my unexpected prizes that afternoon.

Mary-Lynn and Maria on about to take off after the first round of feeding me. A cold coco, bananas, nuts, fruit gummy and some chinese desert version of rice-krispy treat were my unexpected prizes that afternoon.

The kitten of the house

The kitten of the house

Mary-Lynn

Mary-Lynn

Mary-Lynn's grandparents. Her grandpa had, as recently as one month prior, suffered a stroke but was back up and about. He says he likes to go to the park to watch the young girls. This photo captures him talking a bit of smack (surely she's heard a lot through the years!).

Mary-Lynn’s grandparents. Her grandpa had, as recently as one month prior, suffered a stroke but was back up and about. He says he likes to go to the park to watch the young girls. This photo captures him talking a bit of smack (surely she’s heard a lot through the years!).

Mary-Lynn and her mum Maria. Maria is living in Arizona while Mary-Lynn calls Guatemala City home.

Mary-Lynn and her mum Maria. Maria is living in Arizona while Mary-Lynn calls Guatemala City home.

My first go camping in the street, opposite the police office in Apaneca. They were nice enough to cordon off my living space with cones while I used the bathroom.

My first go camping in the street, opposite the police office in Apaneca. They were nice enough to cordon off my living space with cones while I used the bathroom.

The beach at El Tunco looking towards the point break Sunzal

The beach at El Tunco looking towards the point break Sunzal

Points:
-A campesino who helped me with a mysterious bubble in my tire, jumping into the work before I had time to think, being the sort of person who sees something to be done and does it.

-The generosity and humor of Mary-Lynn and her mom Maria and their family in Valle Nuevo.

-Swimming with bats pouring out of their cave.

-Trying to surf and failing without style

-Sickness with a cold and my old microscopic friends

-Two firsts: Sleeping in the market in Patzicía and in the street in Apaneca.

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