Steve and I left the wonderful village of Arriaga early yesterday morning. Steve going one way and me going the other. I enjoyed my time with Steve and we likely will meet up again in the next few days. The hotel in which we stayed in Arriaga was wonderful. In fact, I was most impressed with the entire state of Chiapas.
The wind! My constant and devoted companion! Yesterday morning the cross winds were blowing in both directions (impossible? Don't bet on it!). Suddenly, I was being shaken so hard I could only see in a blur. My glasses actually were shaken loose in my helmet. The bike skipped up and down and then sideways. All of this at forty miles per hour. And suddenly, the winds stopped leaving me to wonder if it was a simple dream (nightmare?).
By 1:00 PM I was in Tapachula, MX where there is a border crossing with Guatemala. Suddenly, I made the decision to cross and continue this adventure in Guatemala. Mexico and I have a long running romance, which will continue in the months and years to come. The border crossing was hectic. Everyone wanting to help me cross for a fee. I did hire someone to help me with the paper work ($11) and someone else to guard the Beemer with its cargo ($5) while I was otherwise occupied. I lost count of the amount of fees but I think they were $37. After 90 minutes of total confusion, I was back on the road (notice I did not say pavement) traveling through several very congested small villages. The traffic was terrible and for the first 50 miles the villages were only a couple of miles apart.
Semi trucks took over the roads. Traffic rules did not exist, yellow lines and curves apparently meant you were to pass. Soon, I was riding just like the rest. Passing on yellow lines, three abreast on curves. Fighting just to make a few miles. At 6:00 PM it suddenly became dark and a great family guided me to the small village of La Democracia (fitting name for me) where I rented a room in a small motel. This morning found me on the road early, heading ro Antigua.
Volcanos surround this beautiful city and I rode up right between them. The countryside in Guatemala is tropically lush, green and beautiful The roads are terrible. Pothole after pothole, some eighteen inches deep. I passed beautiful and well tended orchards and crops, having no idea what they were.
Suddenly, I came over a mountain and was in the extraordinarily beautiful small city of Antigua. I have taken many photographs today which will soon be posted: I found a small and very nice hotel for $42 per night. Hot water, clean sheets, air conditioning, no bugs or lizards, how can I stand it?
For the past three hours, I have wandered the city taking photograhs, which I will soon share. I was walking around the park (Jardin) when I thought I spotted Ernest Hemingway. I had t talk with him, and approached this most interesting gentleman, to find that he was in fact Ira Lewis, a United States citizen who has lived here for decades. Ira was gracious enough to recommend several local restaurants that he thought would be to my taste. I will try one tonight.
Also, today I have have spent at least two hours trying to get my ATM card to work. That is the way I obtain local currency and having a most difficult time getting a machine to take my card. The wonderful folks with Conexxus Credit Union in Wausau, WI are working on my problem now and I feel certain I will have cash in my pocket soon.
I received an e-mail a few minutes from Steve, the English rider. He was just preparing to cross into Guatemala and may meet me here. I am considering staying here for tomorrow. Who knows, Antigua may become another love in my life.