I am currently sitting in a very cosy hostel in Antigua, Guatemala. I ran into an ex-pat who operates a cafe/motorcycle tour place (as in riding up volcanoes) who refered me here. It was much appreciated advice as I was going in circles trying to find a place but parking was an issue. One woman offered to stored my bike in the lobby but it wouldn’t have fit through the door.
I was given my choice of room at the hostel and I chose the one with not two, but three beds (at the same, cheap price). I have a habit of messing up rooms pretty quickly with all of the wet gear so I like to have the room to spread things out when available. The hostel is pretty much my little paradise right now. The staff is young and friendly, there is filtered water available (I usually buy a gallon), breakfast is include, and they do laundry at about $1 a kilo which is so very much needed at this point. I tend to wash days clothes in the evening and hang dry it and inevitable finish the dry in a mesh bag on the bike. Its been intermittently too cool and wet to actually get everything dry so I have had this smelly sack of dampness following me around for the past couple of days. Wifi is free and my bike is parked in the steel doored vestibule, although I am not sure that the lad knew what he offered as apparently my bike is a lot bigger in size than he originally perceived. The room is just fine and the place is situated around a small courtyard. I am eating my huevos rancheros and coffee (only real great coffee — besides my Mexican-Canadian stuff — since home) at quaint wooden table under this sort of veranda that circumnavigates the court yard. So while the temperature is pleasant and I am dry, the plants are getting a good drink.
I went out the the Kings Head last night with one of the guys (Chris) from the Moto Cafe. It is an expat bar set up like an English pub and serving local beers. Although I wasn’t there for too long, it was interesting hearing peoples’ stories and conversations.
Antigua is a pretty neat place. Most of the roads are cobblestone and the buildings are fairly old and traditional. It is tricky to even tell what is being sold. One place is selling paint, the next hardware and the next artisan crafts. You have to look pretty closely to tell as the signage can be spares. From town you can see several volcancoes. While you can take a hike up one in the region and actually see lava, I was pretty impressed with just seeing smoke coming from one of them while standing outside the Moto Cafe.
I spent the previous night on the coast of Lago Atalan, a fair sized highland lake, in a town call Panajachel. It is a bit of a tourist hub and my accomadations were just adequate. I met one fellow from Calgary on a KLR who has spent several months touring around Mexico and now Guatemala. Upon leaving I ran into a woman who is cycling from Alaska to Argentina (that’s gotta hurt). She informed me that a protesters had set up various blockades in the region and getting out of Pana was going to be an issue. Upon discussion, it wasn’t clear as to how I got to town in the fist place. So I ignored the suggestion to stay another day and decided to go on my merry way. I passed throguh a bunch of small villages travesing much mountainous asphalty road. Eventually the GPS became deceitful and I was travelling even more blindly but there seemed to be a road. I ened up circumnavigating a good sectoin of Lago Attilan and found myself on some pretty hairy dirt track. This is stuff that would be fun back in Ontario, but the fun-ness of it is somewhat muted by the prospects of having to right my bike in a drop on twistied mountain dirt track amongst frequent truck and 4×4 passage. It really did get a little hairy and I was pressing the KLR pretty heavily in first to make it up some of the track.
Lago Attilan is quite beautiful and I am glad I got the view I did in Pana as much the lakeshore is private property protected by gates and razor wire — clearly someoness “little place in the country”.
The weather has been all over the place but not uncomfortable hot which is good. Rain gear is the attire of at least part of the day and is pretty much mandatory as it get cool enough to be more than uncomfortable.
My next plan of action is to investigate putting a new rear tire on and get the seemingly crappy Mexican oil out my bike. I burned zero oil in 9000km with two oil changes and apparently burned 1/2 litre in several days with the Mexican stuff. I think I will try Shell Rimula, which is pretty close to Shell Rotella. In addition, the tool toob I made which is affixed behind the front wheel got bumped and a clamp broke. I also fixed my heated vests electrical wire as well as my automatic oilers tube, both getting lopped off by the chain.
Ahhh…I just received my laundry back. All of my wet stinky stuff was launder for about $1. This is a good way to start the day 🙂