By Boat, Bus, and Bicycle

It’s been a long time since I updated my blog, so this will undoubtedly be an extra long post. I want you to know that not only haven’t I been blogging, but I haven’t been showering either. I’ve taken only 2 showers since the last time I posted a message. You can’t take things like the Internet and clean bathrooms for granted in Guatemala. Anywho, I believe we left off in Antigua…

On Sunday Mike and I took a 2.5 hour bus ride West toward Panajachel, a touristy town on the banks of Lago de Atitlan (LdA). LdA is a rather large lake formed in the crater left by a volcano that blew its top some long ago time. “They” say the ash blew as far away as Florida. LdA is now surrounded by several new volcanos that aren’t quite as active. I’m sure the view would have been astounding if it had been clear either of the days we were there; unfortunately, the volcanos were almost continually shrouded in clouds. Nevertheless, the lake still provided an interesting change of scenery.

The following day we left Panajachel by boat to check out one of the villages on the other side of the lake in hopes of a better view and fewer tourists. San Marcos was an interesting little town dedicated to hippie pursuits such as yoga, vegetarianism, reiki, tarot readings, etc. One hotel featured pyramid shaped buildings aligned on the cardinal points where guests could stay while taking a one-month course on something related to the moon and goddesses and such. Turns out the town is still touristy but in a different kind of way.

We left LdA on Tuesday, first taking a boat back to Panajachel, then a bus back to Antigua. We retreived our bikes, and even though it was already almost 2:00 we set off. This turned out to be a good decision since we got quite a few miles in on our way to Honduras. The ride to Esquintla was nearly all downhill (alas, we learned later that what goes down must come up). Our hotel was less than charming, but we survived.

The following day consisted of another pretty easy ride to Chiquimulilla. We thought we could go on from there to Cuilapa, but we quickly revised our plan when we discovered that Cuilapa was about 2000 ft. higher in altitude. We found an interesting little eco-park outside of Chiquimulilla and stayed there instead. Although it was overpriced, it was an interesting spot. It had a mini-zoo, some interesting natural pools, and some very hospitable owners. Concerned with our inability to converse with them at length (Emergency situation!), they pulled their fifteen year-old, English-speaking nephew out of school so that he could sit and talk to us. He had spent a year and a half in Los Angeles and was pretty fluent. We had already retired to our cabin for the evening when we heard a knock and he explained that he had come to talk to us. He was also assigned the task in the morning at breakfast. We learned about how his mother practically disowned him, how he wants to be a tour guide, and how he teaches his English teacher how to pronounce things. Fascinating.

Our next biking day was dreadfully hot. And painfully uphill. Miraculously we made it to Cuilapa before dark. I don’t know that I want to elaborate much more than that. I did, however, drink one coffee, one and a half Cokes, one bottle of Tang and 4 bottles of water without using the restroom. That’s how hot it was. My elbows were sweating.

Today we biked to Jutiapa. We earned ourselves a police escort for a good chunk of the way (a total of 60 km) because there seems to have been some activity from the banditos recently. We were biking along, occassionally spotting men in camoflage with guns in the forest (not unusual since everyone carries a firearm here), when the local cops decided to tail us for 20 kilometers or so. This made me a little nervous, but in reality the banditos are just as likely to board a bus to steal all of your stuff. And the locals look out for us. We are planning on taking a bus the rest of the way to Honduras though since there aren’t any good places to stop for the night.

Well, I think that brings things up to speed, but I have a few pics and some fun games to add as well. Here goes:

Some locals in Panajachel.

She looks ancient, doesn’t she?

Boats and oranges at Lago de Atitlan.

A dock with one of the volcanos in the background.

One of those pyramid houses at the hippie hotel.

We’ve had meals at some interesting establishments (such as the “Doggy Burger”), but we drew the line at eating rabid dogs…

Okay, now here’s a new game. I’m going to give you an answer, Jeopardy style, and you get to guess what the question was! Sound fun? I hope so. Okay, so here’s the answer:

19 bars of soap

I’ll give you a few days to submit your questions, then I’ll supply the real question along with an amusing anecdote and a photo.

I was going to include this next question as a poll, but since the poll feature was out of order for so long and I still want to include my last poll, I’ll just post my new question here as a trivia game:

What (according to our observations) seems to be the most popular instrument in Guatemala?

A) the tambourine
B) the xylophone
C) the flute
D) bongo drums
E) the fiddle
F) maracas

You can just guess the answer to this bit o’ trivia in your response to this post as well. Hopefully I’ll get the poll feature working again soon.

In other news, Mike and I have booked our flight back to the States. We will be making an appearance in Chicago on Wednesday, September 26th — a week and a half before the wedding. Mike may go straight on to Buffalo to visit the fam, but I’ll be heading to Iowa City that very night. We’ll be finishing this leg of our journey in San Jose, Costa Rica. We’re looking forward to more choices in clothing; showing off our ridiculous, matching sandal tans; and, of course, seeing everyone again!

5 Responses to “By Boat, Bus, and Bicycle”
  1. Anonymous says:

    Hey Mike and Jackie….wanted to say HEY and I LOVE YOU:-) Wishing U2 the best and PLEASE have FUN and be SAFE!!!!! Need to Go and take care of BAM, Love Aunt Jan

  2. Kristen says:

    Hey guys!! How are you doing?? Great it sounds! Josh and I are good – nothing too new here except loads of wedding planning! I’m so excited for you to come in a month and a half!! That’ll be nice for you to be here nice and early. Jackie, are you planning making any other side trips? Or just taking it easy in Iowa City most of the time?? Did you get your ticket home yet? I think we’ll be flying out of Chicago on Monday for the honeymoon (even though it’s not planned yet!)! It’ll be fun to have plenty of time to get pampered and to do some last minute fun stuff with you 🙂 That’d be fun for Mike to go see the family – I’m sure they’d appreciate the visit! Hey, maybe you can actually experience a Hawkeye game/tailgate with up that weekend before too – trust me it’s a good time! Anyway, more about you! So, I bet you guys are getting super buff, huh? Josh says he wants to go on RAGBRAI next year, but I don’t know if we’d ever survive a crazy bike ride through Central America! Sounds like you’ve had some challenging days and probably no Pankcake Man or Lemonade Squeeze Boys along the way!! But, plenty of other fun adventures 🙂 I love the elbow sweating paragraph! And Mike, I love the dock/volcano picture! Well, Jenn & Kelley just got here, we are going to go out and have some drinks! Miss you! Love you!Oh, Josh and I have guesses to the trivia question.He says tamborine, I say fiddle,Love ya!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Jackie and Mike,19 bars of soap- How many bars of soap did it take for Mike and Jackie to get clean after they finally found a shower?. Maracas are the popular instrument.? Great to hear from you 2 againTake care,Mike, Rose, and family

  4. Karen Brady says:

    Okay, here’s my guess at the question with the answer of 19 bars of soap: What is the old woman carrying in her satchel?And I think the flute is the most popular instrument (although I may be prejudiced!)Yay! You’re coming back in September! Yay!! Can’t wait to get you here for some pampering, as Kristen said. And Yay! You found Tang somewhere down there! How cool is that.It has been pretty hot and humid here in Iowa this week. I can’t imagine doing what you are doing in weather like this, and I know it is probably worse there. And I wouldn’t mind if you could get a police escort for the rest of your travels – maybe I wouldn’t worry so much. I just so glad to have heard from you again. Mike, keep those awesome pictures coming. Can’t wait to see your whole collection!

  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope you enjoyed your stay at < HREF="" REL="nofollow">Lake Atitlan<>. Did you get to visit Santiago Atitlan?I thought the most popular Guatemalan instrument was the marimba!

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