Arriaga was a most interesting and prosperous small city and Steve and my stay was interesting. The hotel in which we stayed was perfect, clean and secure. We departed early, Steve headed in one direction and me in the other.
I pointed the BMW R100GSPD toward the border with Guatemala, and was immediately joined by my ever present companion, the wind. The hard and constant cross winds seemed to be blowing in both directions ((Impossible? Don't bet on it!). Suddenly, I was being shaken in both directions, my vision became a blur, the bike hopped up and down and then sideways, my glasses were shaken loose in my helmet. And as suddenly, the winds ceased. My ever present companion deserted me.
By 1:00 PM, I arrived in Tepachula, MX, where there is a very active and hectic border crossing with Guatemala. I decided to cross immediately and was besieged by 15 or 20 men offering to help me with the paper work and to guard my bike so that the cargo, helmet and other gear did not suddenly disappear. Being such a timid soul, I did hire one to guide me through the process ($11) and a second to guard the Beemer ($5). The border crossing took about 90 minutes of very hectic and confusing moving from one official to another. All wanting money.
Leaving Mexico was difficult. As many of you know, I have a long running romance with this most complex lady. However, our relationship is hardly over. It will continue over the next many months and years.
The Beemer! Could it survive the roads, traffic and riding in Guatemala? Yes! But only with difficulty. The pavement the first 30 miles was almost non existent. Potholes could not be avoided and most were at least twelve inches deep and six feet across. Semi trucks, belching thick black smoke, took over the roads. Traffic rules were non existent. We were in low mountains with curves ever quarter mile Traffic was running two and three abreast. Suddenly the Beemer took charge and began passing on curves, running three, even four abreast. I was in fear but the Beemer was fighting for position. The ride was exciting and probably a little stupid. Eventually I gained control of my ride.
As darkness descended, a great family that I met at a stop guided me to the small village of LA Democracia (Such a great name!) where I was able to book a room in a small motel, no charge for the bugs and lizards.
Up early this morning I headed to Antigua, a town about which I knew little. Up the mountains, riding through at least three beautiful volcanos, I suddenly descended into the very beautiful city of Antigua. This must be one of the major jewels of Central America. Beautiful, little traffic, great people. The restaurants seem to be superb (I will know this evening) and I am booked into a great hotel for only $42 per night. I may stay two nights. Could this be a new romance?
Walking the city today, I found my way to the central park, the Jardin. I have taken a number of photographs which Jacob will post in a few days. This is a beautiful and charming city. As I walked around the city today I saw Ernest Hemingway. A least I though I did, but when I went up to talk with him about his great writings, I discovered it was Ira Lewis, a U.S. citizen who has lived here for most of 35 years. Ira was kind enough to give me some pointers on sights and restaurants so I will try one tonight.
Also I have spent part of today trying to get my ATM card to work at the local banks. ATMs are how I obtain local currency and the first two hours I was here, I could not get my ATM card to work. However Karry at Conexxus Credit Union in Wausau, WI came to my rescue and I now have cash. That is the reason I have now done business with these fine people for over 40 years.
I received an e-mail from Steve, the fellow from England, and he is crossing the border now. We may meet up again in the next day or two.