Leaving Mayapedal was a relief – we were on the road again, back into our journey. It was also hard, with conversations often falling back to wonderings about how people were doing or how the bici-lavadora proyecto was going. We formed some special friendships while we were there, especially as the “population” was pretty steady for the last few days, and smaller with only 4 other people. Conversations waxed and waned, with a constant theme of Language. Spanish for the english speakers and the vagaries of English for the spanish speakers. A prime example of this, which had all the english speakers unable to connect a coherent thought to another for a few minutes, was from Javier. He’d worked as a telephone sales person in Ireland a few years ago, and had a pretty good grasp of things. He was lamenting the difficulties in knowing how to pronounce english words if you only know how to spell them as there are so many different vowel sounds. This in contrast to spanish, where if you can say it, you know how to spell it without too much more effort. We heard: “You need to have more Bowels”
Unfortunately for him, the Spanish pronounce V as B….
Our plan for the final stretch in Guatemala was to skirt round the southern side of Guatemala City, then take a more-or-less straight line towards the border at El Florido. Happily there was a nice network of small roads to get us there. We didn’t think much more about it. Our route to San Andrés had been pretty hilly, and things didn’t let up from there onwards either.
We didn’t do a particularly good job of taking photos along the way, but picture lots of quiet roads with occasional Guatemalan carrying precarious loads of firewood using straps across their foreheads. Gathering and transporting firewood together with hand-washing clothes probably take up most of their time.
The climate warmed up as we moved east, so we’re now back on long midday breaks, maximally early starts and lots of cold drinks.
Despite feeling as if we’d spent a long time in Guatemala, we’d only done just over 2 weeks of riding and under 1000km. A stunning contrast to the USA and México. The trend will probably continue until we make it to Colombia and the mighty Andes.
Another, somewhat more minor observation, made recently is that when you read that a place is a “beautiful colonial town with lots of charm” it will almost certainly have cobbled streets that render it varyingly unfriendly to bicycles. Antigua Guatemala and Copán Ruinas exemplify this. Further evidence on this theory will be presented in due course as we pass through Gracias and other Honduran colonial towns…
In Copán Ruinas, which is actually the town near the Mayan ruins, not the actual ruins themselves, we got our final fix of things Mayan as we will now move out of the main Mayan mesoamerica. The ruins here are famed for their sculptures, particularly the stellae (double human height spires). Sarah also went to a local bird sanctuary while Tom attempted to do some “work”. Colourful birds are definitely a step-up from the intricacies of health expenditure in developing countries!