We are back on the road in Guatemala

We got to Guatemala safe and sound. And took a bus to Antigua. We stayed with new friends, Judy and Gene, in their incredible home for several days until we got started riding again. (Thank you so much Judy and Gene for all the help and the new friendship)

On New Years Eve, we walked around the plaza in Antigua and watched fireworks and listened to a little music. The plaza was beautifully lit with white Christmas lights around the base of all the trees. We felt we were back home. The sounds, the smells, the people, the festive plaza, the incredible climate, yes back home again.

The time we have been in Guatemala, we are getting quality exercise. We climbed a Volcano (Pacaya) where we got so close to flowing lava it almost melted my nylon coat. Incredible to watch lava slough down the lava worms turning the hard rock to molten liquid glowing from the fire from the earth´s core. I was hoping there was no earthquake or eruption while we were so close. It turns out there was a good one several days later. While we were hiking down in the dark, the winds kicked up, trees swayed in the violent wind and the air was thick with ash.

The next day we started out riding with another cyclist, Scot Domergue, who cycled down from Mexico. He met us as planned in Antigua and we will ride together for 3 weeks if he can stand our style of riding. So far we have had a great time and all is going well.

On the first day we only rode 6 miles but we climbed up a few thousand feet. I did have to walk a few spots as not to over stress my legs which are not use to climbing with my load. I guess there is always a price to pay for to much time off, too much Christmas and the amount of wine that I consumed during the Christmas holiday. I thought to my self as I climbed, that this was a no wine zone (no complaining zone)

We took a pickup through a remote dirt road because of reported bandits. We did stop for the evening in Palin because of hurricane force winds that knocked out the water and electricity in pretty much everywhere in the center part of the county.

The next day we rode 45 miles and climbed 3300 feet. It was tiring because it was the 2nd day on a bike in several months. But it so beautiful. We cycled around a Lake Amatitlán where there were banana trees, palm trees and many plants blooming. We ended up riding down to much lower elevations on the Panamerican highway. There was a section on the Panamerican highway that was just like in the United States, 4 lane divided highway, huge shoulder, and very little traffic. We descended 3000 feet in 7 miles. My max speed was around 38 mph and I bet Scott's was closer to 50 mph. In the lower elevation, it was hotter, had little bugs which attacked my bare legs and the vendors all were selling pineapple. This also was the end of the nice wide Panamerican highway. It narrowed to two lanes with no shoulder and lots of traffic with huge trucks. It was the kind of riding that requires heads up and getting off the road to let the big trucks and buses pass. We decided we prefer the back roads so we headed through the northeast central part of Guatemala.

Currently we are in Mataquescuintla. The ride here was of course steep because of the the volcanic terrain, but very scenic. We are riding through the coffee growing area and more forested area then we have seen in other highlands of Guatemala. People continue to beep hello from there cars or bid us good day as we pedal by. Though I am starting to see more cautious stirs and a few people that actually looked scared.

We are staying in a quality hotel -- Hotel San Miguel in Mataquecuintla which has warm water in the shower, TV and a balcony that looks out to the surrounding vista for about $12 a night. It includes toilet paper, towels and soap. We seem to have gotten a cold so we will hang out for a day or two. Meanwhile I am taking care of a little business: getting a new cell phone (our phone number is on the contact page - call us!) my pants shortened for 50 cents by a very tiny old man with foot-powered sewing machines, updating our website for 60 cents an hour, and a hair cut which I have not gotten yet)

Plus I will go get some lunch or almuerzo. The most common lunch is fried chicken and french fries, tacos, or soap with vegies and meat. I am now hungry talking about it so that is all I will write about for now.