Stopped for lunch, and ended up staying the night!

Trip Start Jun 21, 2008
Trip End Sep 03, 2008

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Flag of Guatemala  , Western Highlands,
Thursday, July 24, 2008

Today we left Xela and ended up at this beautiful lake called Lago Atitlan, it is a big natural lake surrounded by volcanoes and it has  amazing vistas all the way down to the lake itself.  We were supposed to go all the way to Antigua (and only stay at the lake for lunch) but once we saw the views and this beautiful little town called Panajachel  we decided to stay the night. Well actually before getting to Pana, as it is called for short, we got lost in this town called Solala but it turned out to be a little blessing in disguise at least for me. I have been admiring what I thought were (only)  Mexican cemeteries this entire trip, they are simply  beautiful with these incredible tombstones and mausoleums  in every size and color possible! Well it turned out that it's not only a Mexican custom because while getting lost our road dead ended in a cemetery and I was finally able to take some pictures and walk around a bit while Jess kept an eye on the bike.  I have been wanting to take pictures of this for over a month but we are always on the road with little time to stop with the weather. Eventually we found our way to Pana and we found a reasonable hotel (after Jess showed off his haggling skills we got a great rate) with a pool and satellite TV :)
We changed into shorts and t-shirts for the first time in over two weeks (!) and hit the town for some exploring and lunch. Once again, the indigenous presence here is very strong and there were women and children selling their crafts everywhere.  So today at lunch this very skilled little businessman about 10 years old convinced me to buy a scarf that his mother had made. It had started to rain and the scarf was beautiful so I took his advice and bought my first souvenir on this trip (it cost 2 bucks)...However it is too bad that we don't have more space on the bike because I would seriously want to buy clothes, blankets, purses, earrings, necklaces and more...maybe one day if we come back...:)
It was a short stay but definitely worth it, we went out for dinner in the rain and ended up at this Peruvian restaurant with  live music. The food was delicious and we got to relax and have some great wine while watching the street vendors trying to lure the tourists into their stores. 
Ok...Jess here...did I forget to mention that Guatemala is awesome?  How do I know you ask?...we'll the first thing I saw when I crossed the border was a line of 1976-era Datsun B210 taxi cabs!  Just like my brother used to drive...pretty hot as Hilton would say.  Furthermore, all of the public buses are used school buses from the US!  Some of them still stay "South Bend Unified School District" or other recognizable cites from the States.  Known as chicken buses, they are always packed beyond capacity with people, luggage, and of course, livestock.  People are on the roof, hanging from the bumpers, it's quite a site to see...I guess they don't have the same legal strict liability and litigious society that we have to endure Stateside...somewhat of a refreshing change!
The road from Xela winds through the clouds of the Guatemalan Highlands to a height of over 10,000 feet!...I'm glad the bike is fuel injected to handle the thin air!...not so sure about our lungs though, we can definitely feel it at the end of the day when it comes time to lug the boxes and bags up to our room for the night.  Anyhow, the road had amazing high-speed sweeping turns which are so much fun on a motorcycle, but then, before you know it...the road turns from awesome tarmac to sticky mud!  Then we kind of have to do the 2-wheeled mud-skate, hoping to keep the rubber side down until the road reappears...this was pretty sketchy early on in the trip...but now the Monster Mudder (the bike), just seems to weeble-wobble but doesn't fall down!
Our lunch spot for the day is Penejechel, an old tourist town on Lake Atitlan which occupies a huge volcano caldera...the lake itself is over 1000 feet deep...and with an elevation of over 5000 feet, it's one of Central America's gems...simply amazing!  It was only 60 miles from Xela and I wanted to make some good ground today...but our eyes and gut told us to stop for the we had to heed the call!  It was such a great day...more rain of course, and the streets turned to rivers, but we just rolled up our pants, put on sandals, and slogged through the rivers to enjoy the town!  We also had the chance to eat some delicious food! See the pictures!
Okay, a little grind between the teeth to satisfy the appetite and off to Antigua, or original destination today, in the morning...supposedly another beautiful colonial town ringed by volcanoes...and I love hot is shaping up to be a beautiful destination!
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braden on

Utterly awedome!
I am so naive of world geography, and cultural customs, I thought you had to be as far south as Peru to gain that much altitude. Breathtaking vistas abound and waterfalls at 10,000 ft. elevation are astounding!
It appears that that the Guatemalans honor their dead with windowless homes complete with cobbled streets in sort of a 'community of the dead.' I'd much rather be there than the museo. Thanks for letting all of us gringos enjoy your adventure.

Love you both,

Your Pop

jloder on

Unbelievable...Those pics are awesome. Looking forward to the next blog.

jloder on

More video!
Just clicked on the video it mang! More video clips, more video clips!!

fridak on

Speachless pics! Breathtaking!

Malin, jättefina bilder, du har blivit så duktig på att ta kort! Vilken underbar plats på jorden ni befinner er på. Vad lyssnar ni på för musik i hjälmarna?

tips. säg något i kameran vettja!

puss och kram

donw on

Re: W-O-W
That's exactly what I was thinking!

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