At the tourist shops they have shirts that say “What the Guat?” I like them. And titles are difficult things. But down to business, I need to catch you up with Central America before we leave it.
So we skipped Puerto Escondido because it was late, I was tired/cranky/hungry, and it was 60k north from where we hit the coast road, so we went south like we’re supposed to. We stopped in a small town called Mazunte or possibly San Augustillo. It was adorable and extremely hot. The beach break was pounding right on the sand and the ocean was like a hot tub. We stopped at a hotel to check prices and the owner of the hotel rode up the street to us on a little dirt bike and told us there was another hotel more in our budget just down the road. He called to make sure they had rooms and while on the phone he realized that he had told us 500 pesos but the rooms are actually 600 pesos, but they’ll give it to us for 500 cause that’s what he quoted us. Then he drove us over there! Super sweet.
And let me clarify, for 500 pesos right on the beach, these are palapas: some walls, thatch roof, windows made from leaving a gap in between the wall and the roof. Very cute and very hot. My first mosquito net, which did have some skeeters on the wrong side of it. And luke warm sea water came out of the shower head, so that was… refreshing? And it was so close to those aforementioned crashing waves, they were actually a bit loud in the night. But don’t get me wrong, these are not complaints, these are just firsts for me so it’s exciting.
And most exciting, a dog adopted us. He was a big chocolate lab/pit mix and he started following us as we walked down to the store. He waited as we got beer and water, and then walked back with us along the beach. He didn’t want us to go to bed without him and he even tried to come up to the second story with us but the steps were so steep he couldn’t manage it and looked like he was going to eat it when he tried. So he gave up and went to his real home. But it was nice to have a dog for the evening.
Unfortunately, we didn’t hang about and enjoy the scenery, cause we had a sprocket to wait for in Guatemala. So let me back up for a mo. Chris said in maybe Utah, “hey look at my sprocket, don’t the teeth seem thin?” And I said, “uh, mm, *shrug*, keep an eye on it?” But who pays attention to important things like that when you’re traveling through Mexico? Right? So way back in Atotonilco, where we drank all that Tequila, Chris looked again and noticed he was missing a few teeth. Oh crap, it got a lot worse quickly. It now looked like this:
So we called all the nearby KTM dealerships and no one seemed to have a sprocket in stock, even though the one we need fits every KTM dirt bike from 2007 onwards. One place offered to order it for us and said it would be there in 30-40 days. So we pushed on. In Cholupa we had Juan Carlos call a few more places just in case the problem was our Spanish. But no, no KTM dealer in Central America carries sprockets. So we had KTMtwins.com ship some to Guatemala and that brings us to why we were heading straight to Guat and not dawdling in southern Mex like we wanted to.
We spent one more night right by the border and then tried to leave Mexico. This was a challenge. Upon entering (or in our case, upon trying to leave baja for the mainland) one must give Customs a deposit on the vehicle which is returned when the vehicle exits the country. They don’t want you selling your car in Mexico. So we had to put down $400 each and getting it back required a tiny lady to take a hundred pictures and thoroughly inspect Chris’ bike because his VIN is partially obscured by his rally fairings.
After she was finally satisfied, we still had to enter Guatemala. Throughout all of this there are numerous people trying to “help” us, i.e. get us to give them money. Once we got to Guatemala there were a bunch of young boys doing the same thing. Young, like under ten. And they were grabbing my arm to get my attention. I did not like this. I kept repeating in my head, “you cannot hit children, you cannot hit children.” So we finally got through immigration and to Guatemalan customs. The lady there kept printing out pieces of paper and telling us we needed to get a copy of them. Then we would bring her back the copy and she would give us a new piece of paper which we needed to copy. This happened literally four times. Throughout the process I’m getting messages from my aunt Jenna in Guatemala saying “your dot on the map isn’t moving! Are you dead at the border?” No, that’s just what it feels like. Four hours later we are free to drive away.
The mountains of Guatemala are gorgeous. Crossing the border was like entering a different world. We were immediately in a jungle. There were a lot of sad dogs on the side of the road. More than in Mexico. And what struck Chris was that all of the local women dressed in traditional clothing. Not just the ones in the touristy places, but everyone. It’s very pretty and makes Guatemala seem like a really different place.
But going through the mountains also means the sun hides behind them, and the fog rolls in thick and fast. So before we knew it night had come (at 5:30pm) and we were still an hour outside of Panajachel. Driving on the windy mountain road in the dark and the rain was sketchy mostly because of the giant old school busses. In their conversion to being a normal commuting bus lights in a multitude of colors have been added onto the front of the busses. They are bloody blinding. You’re coming around a corner, minding your own business when all of a sudden, BAM! The eye of sauron is blasted into your face and now your night blind on a twisty mountain road in the rain. So that was fun.
And then finally we landed in Panajachel at Jenna’s River B and B, the number one bed and breakfast on Trip Advisor and in real life. I’m not bias in this even though Jenna is my aunt. If her B & B wasn’t amazing then I certainly wouldn’t brag about it, I’d kind of shuffle off in shame. But no shame here. This place is the best. I haven’t been to Guatemala in over five years and the new location of Jenna’s River B & B is right downtown, half a block from the boat docks and steps from every restaurant. Each bedroom has an en suite bathroom delightfully finished with pretty tiles. We had the studio apartment room in the front that has a little kitchenette and sitting room. The beds are insanely comfortable, I haven’t had anything near as good since. The girls somehow sneak in to tidy up and make the beds even when I think I’m there all day. And then there’s the breakfast, which is amazing every day. Plus because I’m special (i.e. related) I got afternoon snacks of home made pâté, wine and mini quiches. Everything is home made and everything is amazing. Lastly, Jenna organizes as little or as much as each of her guests wants; from bus tickets, early morning airport taxis, horse back riding excursions or zip lining, anything one could do in Pana, Jenna will make it easy for you. So if you’re in Guatemala, do yourself a favor and stay at Jenna’s River B and B in Panajachel.
This post is getting long, so I’m going to do a Guat Dos tomorrow. Let’s end with Chris doing what he does best on a lake watching the sun set behind a volcano.
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