Part 1: A taste of home
Guatemala was instantly better. The hills reflected a vibrant green, big-leafed plants swayed next to skinny trees with branches reaching to the sky for ample rain. And that was what the sky promised. The first chance we found to pull off was in the gravel in front of someone’s house. They watched as we opted for our waterproof suits, covering the plain clothes we were wearing for a hot day at the border. We waved thank you and hopped back on our motorcycles. As we climbed in elevation on nicely paved twisty roads, the heat diminished, and rain fell, washing a little bit of Mexico off of us.
We kept our motorcycles pointed to the sun, ascending higher into alpine like foliage. The 80 miles to Quatzletenango (a.k.a. Xela) took us about 2-1/2 hours. It’s like our wheels knew where to go once we entered the city. We found a place easily, Hostal Don Diego, with secure motorcycle parking and hot showers. It also happened to be around the corner from the fantastically recommended café Bovaria, which took up a lot of our time as it was a little taste of home.
Part 2: Back to school…
Spending the last sunset in Guatemala wandering around the cobblestone streets of Antigua, I am glad I spent the previous 13 days in San Pedro La Laguna. From the recommendation of a fellow motorcyclist, 6 of us opted to learn Spanish there instead of Antigua. For as much as I appreciate the beauty the city offers, I miss the slower tempo and small town appeal of San Pedro La Laguna. Antigua holds interest in its own old way with colored buildings, old ornate doors, grand sculpted churches and the ability to walk the streets anonymously amongst so many other visitors to the city. Alternately, there was a quick comfort found in San Pedro, with views of Lago Atitlan every morning, the friendliness of locals greeting you in passing, and freshly prepared food as if you were sitting at home to dinner with family. I understand why so many have visited and stayed. It sucks you in. We met a couple motorcyclists from the states who were doing the same trip, but never made it past that stop. But it is also a warning that after two weeks of occupancy, it was time to go.
Part 3: The Noises of San Pedro La Laguna:
Three of us agreed that getting little sleep to wake up at 3 am to meet our guide at 3:30, then be at the trailhead by 4am, was a good idea. The offer of a sunrise hike to Indian Nose appealed to our senses, but somewhere in the wake-up, none of us thought to bring flashlights as we hiked in the away from streetlamps and into the black of night. The further we ascended amongst stone and trees, I would have thought a quiet would take over. But the call of roosters and a cacophony of dogs echoed against the volcanoes and landed in our ears. We reached a plateau, 2000ft above where we started that morning, just as the sun started to peak over the volcan across the Lago.