Riding the Guatemala Highlands

Is this really this steep-Yes
Is this really this steep-Yes (View on flickr)

We didn't really know what we were getting into when we heard about the beautiful new road that runs east from Huehuetenango (Way-Way-tenango) - everybody said it had just opened and was a great new road. But it sounded like low traffic and a good road, so we took it. It was probably some of the best riding we've had on the trip. Almost no traffic, beautiful road surface, and sometimes even and shoulder!

It's all huge, brutal, beautiful green mountains. We've never seen so much green. The landscape looks like a quilt because of the efficient agricultural use of this land. In every village and along every road we meet colorful indigenous people who smile and say hi or call out to us, impressed by our trip. Often we hear someone yelling out "bye-bye" in English or the young children come running out of their house, waving and in unison cryout "Gringo Gringo". Nancy usually responds with Ninos! Ninos! (children, children) and gives a hearthy wave back.

In every village the people have a different "tipica" outfit, and the women's outfits are just absolutely gorgeous. I don't know what it would be like to live in a village where all the women wore the same dress every day, but the dresses they wear are beautiful. And each one tells a specific story; the women weave their own "huipiles", and it often requires three months of near-full-time effort to weave one.

The mountains are just glorious, but it's the steepest riding we've ever done with a load. There was some weeping and nashing of teeth on some of the hills. But overall, I'll bet we'll remember our ride from Huehuetenango to Sacapulas to Quiché to Chichicastenango as one of the best stretches we've ever ridden.

The climate is shockingly delightful. While many of you are suffering through the heat of a North American summer, we're luxuriating in cool mornings and comfortable sunny days. We've been at about 6500 feet (2000 meters) for the last few days. When we go higher, it can get almost uncomfortably cool, but at this level it's like paradise. This is pretty surprising. Altitude and topography count more in climate than latitude!