August 2015
  • Day244

    Exploring Antigua

    April 2, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    Riding our bikes around the cobblestone streets of Antigua after a full day of cycling made for a poor first impression of the city. Luckily, after a day off, mostly relaxing at the hostel, we awoke the following day to a view of the surrounding volcanos: Acatenango, Fuego and Agua. We also enjoyed walking around the city, admiring arts and crafts, visiting churches and markets, and people watching in the beautiful central park, before our afternoon departure out of the city.Read more

  • Day242

    The Road to Antigua

    March 31, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

    The climb out of Panajachel was not nearly as steep as the descent into San Pedro, so it was actually quite enjoyable. Sadly, after 4 days around Lake Atitlan the clouds/haze never fully cleared so we didn't get a good view of the lake as we rode past view points on the climb. The road was rough and steep in places, and we had to fjord a small creek, but we quite enjoyed the ride to Antigua with Joe. We attempted to stay with Bomberos in Antigua, but got sent back and forth across the cobblestone streets of the city a few times before we gave up and opted to camp on the roof of Captain Tom's Hostel. With the bustling market just around the corner, and an oven at our disposal, we teamed up with Joe to make a big dinner of pizza and salad the next night. We had also been in touch with Antoine who we first met on the Baja at New Years, and knew that he was staying at the same hostel, so got to swap stories with him from the last 3 months of our respective travels.Read more

  • Day241

    Friends on Lake Atitlan

    March 30, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    After a day of rest in San Pedro La Laguna, we packed up to head across Lago Atitlan to Panajachel, only to get a message from our friend Orion, who had hosted us back in November in Bodega Bay, California. He was in Panajachel, just a short ride across the lake, and could we meet up, he wondered? It couldn't have been better timing. We said good bye to our host Mikaela, who had let us camp on her roof for just a few quetzales a night with a great view of San Pedro, navigated the alleyways down to the lake, and hopped on a launcha for the quick ride across the lake. Unfortunately, the lake was still shrouded in haze, so we didn't get great views, but we did get a sense of just how big the lake was.

    It was lovely to see Orion again. He showed us the Spanish school he was attending, and brought us back to his homestay hosts' house where we met Angel and Luki and their children and another of the students, Bruce. We were thrilled to get to camp on their roof and spend the night chatting away and sharing food. We resumed conversations over an early breakfast the next morning, then sadly took our leave to attack the steep climb up away from the lake.
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  • Day240

    Sunrise from Volcan San Pedro

    March 29, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 7 °C

    We were told that the view from Volcan San Pedro was not to be missed, but the previous day's fog over the lake wasn't very inspiring. We figured our best chance for a view would be at day break so we set an alarm for 2:30 am and when we looked out of the tent and saw stars, we decided to go for it. We walked from our rooftop campsite up to the park entrance and were at the summit of Volcan San Pedro just as the horizon was turning red. We enjoyed a spectacular sunrise through the clouds, and especially enjoyed the warmth that the sun brought when it finally hit us. We sat and snacked for a while, but the clouds were already getting thicker and higher so we opted for a walk on small jungle trails to a slightly higher summit along the thickly forested crater rim and then started down. We were lucky to catch a glimpse of the rare Horned Guan flying through the trees on our way down the steep trail through the jungle, and lower down we passed through coffee and avocado farms that we had walked through in the dark on the way up. With a day's hiking done at 10 am we relaxed on the rooftop for the rest of the day. Later in the afternoon, we finally ventured down to the lake shore to check out the lively Spanish school/hostel strip that we hadn't explored yet, and then headed back home for an early bedtime.Read more

  • Day239

    The High Road

    March 28, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    One more day of rest and we were ready to ride again. We said goodbye to the roundhouse at 9 am, and climbed surprisingly gentle grades up to our highest elevation on bikes at 3031 m. Joe, a British cyclist who stayed a night at the roundhouse as well, caught us near the summit and shared the awesome descent back to 2500 m with us. From there, the three of us rolled through small villages and passed numerous shafts in the hillside where people were mining sand and gravel. It took a surprisingly long time to find a good place to buy lunch, but we eventually had a good feed before descending through the clouds on grades over 20%. Our brakes were really put to the test as we descended 1000 m in 2 scary pitches to the shores of Lago Atitlan and the town of San Pedro La Laguna. We made it in one piece, but Karl's rear wheel developed a wobble from the intense heat of his rim brakes. We later met a couple on a tandem who's front tire burst from the heat of rim brakes - not a descent to be taken lightly...Read more

  • Day237

    Getting High: Volcan Tajumulco

    March 26, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ☀️ 3 °C

    We were lucky to get to climb Volcan Tajumulco, the highest mountain in Central America. Carl picked us up at 3:30 am and we drove through the night to the base of the volcano. The first rays of light broke over the horizon as we started hiking and the views just kept getting better as we got higher and higher. Since it was the Saturday of the Easter weekend, throngs of other people were also hiking the volcano - families with children and small babies, women in traditional dress, and even folks doing Mayan religious ceremonies. From the 4220 m summit we could see many of the surrounding volcanoes, including Acatenango and Fuego (which was erupting the entire time we were on the summit) near Antigua, Atitlan, near Lago Atitlan, Zunil, Santa Maria and Satiaguito (also erupting) near Xela, and Tacaná, the sister volcano to Tajumulco. By noon we were back down at the Jeep gorging on watermelon, and by 3 pm we were enjoying a delicious pizza dinner in Xela. It was a great day off the bikes, and a treat to get such a beautiful day to climb the volcano. Thanks to Warmshowers host Carl for taking us to hike Tajumulco!Read more

  • Day236

    Kuxleqel and Good Friday

    March 25, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ 🌬 25 °C

    After a good sleep in the roundhouse we met Carl for a hike up "his" volcano. He climbs Kuxleqel at least once a week, picks up garbage along the trail and plants trees with the local community. He lent Holly a mountain bike, which was better suited for the steep 10 km ride to a friend's house where we started the hike through a peaceful pine forest. We ambled up the trail along with Dan, another American living in Toto, and Margarita, one of the local indigenous women in Carl's education program, who is studying to be a teacher. The trail eventually steepened (as all roads and trails in Guatemala do!) to the discreet peak where we had beautiful views of the surrounding volcanos, including the perfectly conical Santa Maria. The return bike ride was pretty fun for Holly and less so for Karl, and resulted in the sad loss of his Sumo wrestler horn (given to him by our friend Vanessa, and one of the biggest hits with any kids we met along the road). We were invited to a Good Friday meal with Carl's wife's family, then wandered the streets to see the alfumbras prior to the Good Friday procession. As before, the alfumbras were elaborate and beautiful, and a real treat to see.Read more

  • Day234

    Hello Volcanoes!

    March 23, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    We weren't exactly excited to get back on our bikes the next morning, but we set off early and began the last big climb around 10 am. After 2 hours of steady climbing through ridge top villages we crested the summit at 2800 m and got a view of Volcan Santa Maria - a perfect conical volcano that stands out from the many volcanoes in the area around Totonicapan. From here we descended into Totonicapan (or Toto as it is often called), bought some fruit and chocolate dipped banans in the market and were very grateful that the last 10 km to San Cristobal Totonicapan were also gradually downhill. Our awesome Warmshowers host Carl fed us soup and salad loaded with fresh vegetables from his garden (a welcome change from our diet of beans and rice) before showing us to his dedicated guesthouse where we were reacquainted with Justin, a Canadian cyclist we had met in southern Mexico. The roundhouse is set amongst a forest of native and non-native trees that Carl has planted and is a wonderful place for worn out cyclists to recharge for another go at Guatemala's intense roads.Read more

  • Day233

    High in the Hills

    March 22, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 25 °C

    We started off in a thick fog the next morning, but it cleared soon after we left the market in Uspantan. We had a beautiful ride through Cunen and up over yet another steep road and down to Sacapulas for lunch at an ice cream shop. From there we had to climb another 1000 m to San Pedro Jocopilas, where we once again found a place to set up our tent with friendly firefighters and headed to bed early after a big day of climbing.Read more

  • Day232

    To the Highlands

    March 21, 2016 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    We were sure glad to have a roof to sleep under because it rained all night in Cobán, and it was still raining in the morning as we packed up our stuff. We hit the bike shop again to get Karl's back wheel trued, then donned our jackets and shoe covers and headed out of town. Our route took us on the main highway toward Guatemala City for the first 15 km of the ride, and traffic was heavy with a narrow shoulder, which felt all the more dangerous with the wet road. We were glad to turn off toward Santa Cruz Verapaz onto a smaller road, and thought we may have ridden out of the rain cloud. However, after San Cristobal Verapaz we were back on a dirt road, and back in the rain. The mucky road was covered in potholes, and very soon we too were covered in mud and grime as we pedalled down and down to the Chixoy River. Having lost 800 m of elevation, we now had to climb back up 1200 m, but across the Chixoy we were now in the state of Quiche, and back on paved roads. The hills were steep as we climbed up past villages where we heard more Spanish than indigenous languages, and where people seemed to be less poor. We rolled into Chicaman around 5 pm and quickly found the Bomberos where we were able to put up our tent on their rooftop patio and chat with the friendly firefighters before heading to bed.Read more