Charles showed our kind hosts our planned route east to El Salvador, avoiding Guatemala City. Silence! I registered concern in their faces. Is the road too busy? ventured Charles and he mimed a broken surface, bouncing on an imaginary bike. Bandidos? I knew it! Gangs! (resorting to English in times of stress). Relief flooded their faces: did they feel it was disloyal to tell us directly? But once the gates opened out poured all their concerns: yes, and a busy road, but also a dangerous road, too many gangs, they wouldn’t drive on that road let alone cycle. Good to know! Plan B it is then!
So we cycled south between volcanoes, a HUGE downhill,1600m to sea level with a tailwind of 40 km per hour. It should have been incredible, it was incredible, but a strong gust almost took me off my bike. I forced myself to relax, smile, relax into the saddle, drop my shoulders, look at the amazing scenery, another gust and my smile became a grimace! But I did it and it was awesome. Once in the lowland, we met groups of Sunday cyclists, ate a fabulous lunch in a street cafe and cycled 120 km to Monterrico.
Monterrico is a black sand resort with a few backpackers and many middle-class Guatemalan families. It’s great: two nights became 3, and in this hotel, after three nights in the 4th is free…….. £100 including delicious meals and an evening G&T or beer! Rolling Pacific waves thump onto the beach, sculpting the sand into cusps and ridges. Pelicans take advantage of the rising air above the rolling waves; as soon as the wave begins to break they each in turn sweep up into the sky, a flock of up to 20 synchronized flyers. I fumble to capture it with my camera: too late again.
This afternoon we cycled to a tiny village called Hawaii, on a dead end road east of here and to our surprise a village Rodeo. Did I write that the Guatemalans dislike alcohol? Not true: every table was laden with beer bottles, drunk ranchers hiding beneath their huge Stetsons. Oscar introduced himself, truly a Guatemalan Brian Blessed: loud, drunk, delighted to meet us and to introduce us to his horses, his beautiful (second) wife, his shy teenage daughter, and his guns, in that order. I held the horses so he could show Charles how he could swing his lasso, clutching his patient wife in a tight embrace as the loop circled their bodies, a huge personality. I love it when alcohol brings out the very best in a person! Then he wobbled and laughed to his 4×4 and drove off, leaving his men to load his horses and beautiful saddles into truck. We left the party early to avoid sharing the road with drunk drivers.
Sometimes Charles complains that I always bring my camera. Not tonight. On our sunset walk we meet a small group releasing baby turtles. Ahhhhhh so cute!!
Tomorrow we ride again, El Salvador on Friday.