Day 99 – Rio Dulce, GU to Acajutla, ES

Day 99 – Rio Dulce, GU to Acajutla, ES     11/28/10     Mileage: 129

Brian I were on the bikes by 9:30 for the run from Rio Dulce to the El Salvador border. We wanted to get there well before nightfall to leave ourselves plenty of time to do the notorious border paper shuffle. Despite a fair amount of rain, the ride to the border was uneventful and we were there by 1:30pm. The first step was to cancel our Guatemala import permits for the bikes, followed by getting ourselves stamped out of Guatemala by immigration.

The El Salvador border crossing.

It was all very straight forward and they even made copies of documents for the El Salvador side of the border for free without us even asking! That was a far cry from some of the horror stories I’ve read on ADV Rider (website). As we were crossing, a fellow started talking to us and “helping” to steer us in the right direction. Sometimes unsolicited help is good, and sometimes it’s not…and I couldn’t figure which bucket to put this guy in. He pointed us to the right office to start the El Salvador border process, yet wanted a copy of our canceled Guatemala bike import permit…which we were told he definitely did not need by the people in the office. We’ll never know in the end, because as soon as we had our El Salvador bike importation permits and stamps in our passports, we split. All in all, it took an hour and half of paperwork, but was easy and didn’t cost a dime. Bienvenudos a El Slavador…country number 6 on my trip so far! Even though it looked much like Guatemala, it felt in some ways different…it’s funny how a line on the map does that. Our goal was to reach the coastal town of Acajutla and perhaps find a decent hotel on the beach. The ride down to the coast was good and had a real nice twisty section that went on for 30 or so miles. We arrived in Acajutla around 5pm and it was kind of a shithole. Undeterred, we headed towards the beach in search of a hotel. We pulled into the first prospect which Brian went to look at while I watched the bikes. His face said it all when he came back, to which he added…”Call me old fashioned, but I do prefer a toilet seat on my toilet.” It was only $10, but a man has to have his standards. The next stop looked more promising, as it was 50% more expensive at $15 and the outside looked clean enough. It was getting dark and our expectations, while already very low by US standards, were minimal. It was just not meant to be however. We looked at the first room and it was a complete sespool…the sheets looked like they haven’t been changed…ever. The toilet, while fitted with a seat, wasn’t worthy of a stall in the men’s room at the old Veterans Stadium during an Eagles game just after halftime. This is quite a feat, given that the shower head (cold only of course) comes out of the ceiling directly above the toilet…yes folks…no shower stall…you have to straddle the toilet while showering. Then there is of course the floor, which defies explanation as to how a shower stall sized room with what is in effect an overhead sprinkler could accumulate such filth. Brian and I at least had a good laugh before we declined and opted to press on with the search in the dark. Fortunately, I remembered passing a hotel next to a truck repair shop a few miles back, so we pointed the bikes back to the highway. We arrived and although it was expensive ($31) for what it was, we were tired and there were quite literally no other options… So we took two rooms and called it a night.

PS: Sorry for the lack of pictures today! I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the hotel rooms…damn!

Day 98 – Rio Dulce, GU

Day 98 – Rio Dulce, GU     11/27/10     Mileage: 0

Today Brian and I booked a launch to the town of Livingston which is not accessible by road. It was quite expensive and took up most of the day, but it included a tour of the area as well and we heard it was worthwhile.

The first stop was an small old colonial era Spanish fort which was neat to see from the water just as the pirates for whom the fort was built to defend against would have seen it.

Some local fisherman in dugout canoes

Next we stopped to view some islands where many water birds were nesting, after which we came into a small cove where young girls in dugout canoes paddled up to our launch selling local crafts.

The crafts were OK, but the young girls were adorable. We docked at Livingston and took a walk down the main street.

Livingston, GU

There are manhole and sewer covers missing not just in Livingston, but all over Guatemala. Replacements seem to be in short supply, so in this case the locals stuck a phone booth in the manhole to keep people from falling in!

Both Brian and I were kind of unimpressed with the town honestly, but it was good for a stroll and lunch. It would have been fine were in not for the fact that it cost 200 quetzals and 3 hours to get there from Rio Dulce! So, after lunch it was back to the launch for the ride back which thankfully was a straight shot. After that it was a shower, dinner, some route planning and off to bed for an early night as tomorrow we had a long day planned which would take us to yet another country…El Salvador!

Day 97 – Flores, GU to Rio Dulce, GU

Day 97 – Flores, GU to Rio Dulce, GU     11/26/10     Mileage: 129

Today was a short day in the saddle from Flores and Brian and I were in Rio Dulce in just over 2 hours.

Cool Beans….my favorite morning coffee and wifi spot

One last shot of Flores, GU

The road surface was the best I’ve ridden in Guatemala and was quite literally the only riding day where my tires didn’t touch dirt. We also bumped into 2 more riders on KLR’s who were heading north towards Belize from Costa Rica. In Rio Dulce we parked ourselves at Bruno’s Hotel and Marina which caters mostly to glob trotting sailors.

The pool at Bruno’s Marina

Chillin at Bruno’s

What I didn’t realize is that Rio Dulce also has a large number of wealthy expat sailors (and power boaters) that live down here either part time or full time. There are hundreds of very large sailboats and yachts in the area, some moored in front of what I guess are second homes. There are also transient sailors as well as some that just come down to escape the winter up north. I definitely caught (or rekindled) a bit of the sailing bug. Maybe that will be the next endeavor!

The main street in Rio Dulce

The “shoe store” in Rio Dulce….it’s no Jimmy Choo boutique!

The Yamaha dealer in Rio Dulce.

“Brilliant Riding”….I’m not so sure given that the bike is only a 125cc!

The view from the bridge over the river

Sunset over Rio Dulce

Day 96 – Caye Caulker, BZ to Flores, GU

Day 96 – Caye Caulker, BZ to Flores, GU     11/25/10     Mileage: 0 (riding)  3 hours on a chicken bus.

I was up early for breakfast and on the first water taxi off the caye at 8:30. The ride back to Belize City was nice and there were several cruise ships anchored just offshore…thankfully they do not go to Caye Caulker or the place would be ruined. I caught the first chicken bus back to San Ignacio and It was a spine powdering 3 hour ride as the suspension on the bus was completely shot. I actually sat leaned to one side so as not to send the shock from every bump straight up my spine. Back in San Ignacio I met up with Brian, packed up the KLR and we split back towards Guatemala. At the border we met two fellow ADV’ers (a website called Adventure Rider that I also post to) also riding KLR’s. We exchanged information as they are heading south as well, so perhaps we may catch up again down the road.

3 KLR’s and one lone BMW at the Guatemala / Belize border…

After crossing back into Guatemala, we rode back to Flores and found rooms for the night. That night we met Evan who is from Alberta, Canada and also riding an ’09 KLR just like mine. It was like a bloody KLR convention down here today! He joined us for dinner and we all swapped stories and lies from the road. I wasn’t able to find turkey and stuffing, and my dinner companions were from Canada and England, but I sure do have a lot to be thankful for, so it was a great Thanksgiving dinner none the less!

Day 92 – Tikal, GU to San Ignacio, BZ

Day 92 – Tikal, GU to San Ignacio, BZ     11/21/10     Mileage: 64

 It was absolutely pouring overnight, so much so that it woke me up a few times and that almost never happens. I got up at 6am and it was still raining, but luckily by the time the tour started at 6:30 it had stopped. The tour of the Tikal ruins was great and I’m glad I sprung for the guide. I’ll let the pictures do the talking…

This mound is what the structures look like before restoration….completly covered by the earth and jungle.

The tops of the temples visible above the jungle canopy.

These cute little guys are everywhere…called a coatimundi.

Here’s a shy howler monkey….couldn’t get a good shot.

The tour was over by 11 and after packing up the bike I was off to meet Brian on the road to Belize.

Brian from England and his BMW F650

The Guatemala \ Belize border…it was a snap and took only an hour total.

The bikes at the border…

We rode together across the Belize border to San Ignacio and found rooms at a hotel in town. After settling in we went out for dinner and a few beers.

“Main St.” in San Ignacio, Belize

Getting a beer at Flayva’s

I personally got offered pot and/or coke 3 separate times that night, but of course declined…I already had plenty…  😉   It was also weird to be back in an english speaking country after almost 7 weeks in Mexico and Guatemala, I kept saying gracias instead of thank you!

Day 91 – Flores, GU to Tikal, GU

Day 91 – Flores, GU to Tikal, GU 11/20/10 Mileage: 42

Brian and I met for breakfast and we discussed the possible routes going south. I also spent several hours getting somewhat caught up on the blog while I had an OK internet connection. In the afternoon I packed up the bike and left for Tikal which was only a little over an hour away. I got a room at the famous Jaguar Inn right at the entrance to the Tikal ruins. I also signed up for a 4 hour guided tour for the following morning as I heard it was well worth it. I had dinner at the Jaguar and used the wifi for a bit, but turned in early as the tour starts at 6:30am and I wanted to get a good nights sleep.

I totally goofed in not getting any pictures of the Jaguar, so here’s some pics from their website.

Day 90 – Sebol, GU to Flores, GU

Day 90 – Sebol, GU to Flores, GU 11/19/10 Mileage: 122

It was pissing rain when I woke up and didn’t look like it was going to stop anytime soon. After a failed attempt to find breakfast, I packed up the bike and split. The road out of town was under construction and further complicated by a cattle herd being driven down what there was of the road by 3 Guatemalan cowboys. I sat there clutch ahead in first gear in the pouring rain but there was nothing I could do about it.

After the beef blockage cleared, I spun the KLR up to speed and hoped the rain would let up. No such luck with the rain but the dirt finally gave way to pavement and I was able to up the pace and at least eventually end the misery a bit sooner. The rain let up and even stopped for a bit and I was able to even enjoy some nice rolling hills for a bit, but it didn’t last long. I stopped off at a roadside tienda to scrounge up a bite to eat, but that proved to be a bit of a task. It was completely disheveled and disorganized, but I did manage to find tortilla chips hiding under some light bulbs and a small pack of vanilla wafers. The orange juice was 2 days out of date, but beggars can’t be choosers…and at least my grocery total was only 3 quetzals, or around 35 cents. Stomach satiated if not full, I pressed on in the rain. In Sayaxche, I had to take a ferry across the Rio de la Pasion which made for some good photos.

Queuing up for the ferryOn the ferry…The ferry carrying a semi truck back across the river…

Once across the river I could almost see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, but mother nature had one more punch to throw. The rain began to fall with a tropical vengeance and I had to back off the pace. It was a total frog drowner and this went on for 20 minutes before the KLR had enough and quit firing. Luckily it was right in front of a gas station, so I pushed her the last few feet under the gas pump shelter. The reason was obvious…water had worked its way into the ignition somewhere, so I figured I’d let it sit for a bit while I got a snack next door. After 20 minutes I returned and she fired up after a little persuasion. By this time the rain had died down to a mere downpour so I continued. The last 12 miles into Flores (the way the GPS took me at least) were dirt, or more precisely a muddy morass. I finally pulled into town and me and the KLR were soaked to the bone and covered with mud. After settling into a hotel room and leaving a message for Brian, a rider from England that I was meeting up with, I went out to find a proper meal and to walk around town.

View from the roof top patio of my hotel in Flores, GU

Flores, GU


Back at the hotel I met up with Brian and we went out for dinner and a few drinks. He started out 5 months ago from Anchorage, AK on his BMW F650 and had virtually the same plan as me…to ride from Deadhorse to the tip of Argentina. He’s had a few setbacks, but is still pressing forward with his trip in true British fashion. As we’re both heading the same way, we talked about riding together for a bit which will definitely be a change, so we’ll see how that goes.

Day 89 – Cemuc Champey, GU to Sebol, GU

Day 89 – Cemuc Champey, GU to Sebol, GU 11/18/10 Mileage: 47

I was looking to move on today but the weather was not cooperating. The road coming in is of course very bad and the rain makes things 10 times worse as the road gets slippery. Worse than that is the concrete pads on the steep hills that get covered with mud dragged on there by the 4×4 trucks wheels. I gave it a whirl but it was just too slick, so it was back to the hostel to wait it out. If the sun came out and dried things out enough to leave in the afternoon, I would make a run for it…otherwise I was stuck here another night. Luckily, that’s what happened and I gave it another go. The road was still muddy but had definitely dried out a bit including the concrete tracks on the steep sections, so it was not too bad. I also lowered my tire pressures which also helped quite a bit. Once back to the main road, I could go left and backtrack to Coban on the paved road, or go right and continue towards Sebol through the mountains on the dirt. You know how much I hate to backtrack, so with two hours of daylight left I made run for it.

The going was painfully slow in the mud and daylight was beginning to become a problem. Luckily the road widened and improved enough towards the end so I could pick up the pace despite that it started to pour.

I arrived in Sebol about 15 minutes after dark and went straight for the nearest hotel. It wasn’t much to look at, but it was dry, only $9 and I was soaked. The bathroom was particularly, umm, unsightly and the sink was actually in one end of the shower. It also had one of those electric shower heads to heat the water as the majority of buildings down here only have plumbing for cold. What’s worse, this one had the electrical breaker box in the shower as well which is a first!

Needless to say I didn’t need a shower bad enough to risk electrocution! I also didn’t trust the bedding, so I did the old ground sheet over the bed trick and slept in my sleeping bag liner.

Day 88 – Cemuc Champey, GU

Day 88 – Cemuc Champey, GU     11/17/10     Mileage: 0

It was a good nights sleep as everyone turned in before 11, me included. After breakfast it was off to Cemuc Champey which was a 2 minute walk from the hostel. Cemuc is essentially a unique geological feature where the Cahabon River goes underground beneath a natural limestone “bridge” and then emerges several hundred yards down stream. On top of the limestone bridge are a series of beautiful and inviting turquoise pools that cascade downwards and rejoin the river that emerges from underground. Our guide from the hostel led us up to the top of a cliff where we could see the whole of Cemuc Champey and the view was magnificent.

I also had my first toucan sighting which was really cool!

After that he led us to the point where the river disappears underground which was an awesome sight.

To give you an idea of scale, look at the people on the side of the river in the photo above.

The last part was the highlight for sure as our guide led us to the top pool and showed us where to jump in. We then spent the next hour diving, jumping and sliding from pool to pool down the length of the limestone bridge until the main river emerged from underground. It was a blast for sure!

Back at the hostel we all had some lunch and I chilled for the afternoon. At night dinner is served at 7pm for all the guests which is nice as you can meet and chat with the other travelers. After dinner I played poker for a while with 4 other Americans who are down here traveling around after attending a wedding. Without playing chips the bets were in beer and after that ran out it was shots of Agua Diente…a local fire water. I steered clear of the shots thankfully, and we all packed it in around 11.

Day 87 – Finca El Naranjo, GU to Cemuc Champey, GU

Day 87 – Finca El Naranjo, GU to Cemuc Champey, GU     11/16/10     Mileage: 84

Breakfast at the Posada Montana was tasty and after an hour of studying I hit the road.

Breakfast….not bad for $3.

My destination for today was Cemuc Champey via Coban and Lanquin. The road from Coban to the turnoff for Lanquin was good fun and for the most part in good condition.

The 15 or so miles from the turn off of the highway to Cemuc Champey is another story all together! The road was steep and rutted in spots and was so narrow that two vehicles could not pass at the same time forcing one to backup or pull off into driveway if there was one. In the steepest sections they laid two concrete tracks, one for each set of wheels, or some vehicles would not make it up. It wasn’t bad on the KLR, but that is exactly why I brought that bike and not a more comfortable touring bike…for roads just like that.

Near the entrance to Semuc Champey I found the El Portal hostel which is situated in a great setting right on the river.

That afternoon I signed on for a underground river cave tour which was great fun, mostly because it violated nearly every safety precaution that would have been deemed necessary by some inspector in the U.S.! To start off with, the only light in the cave was from the candles they gave you. Oh, and I did mention that this was an underground river tour, so you had to swim through, and sometimes jump into the water…all wile not getting your candle wet.

Here are some with the camera flash on…

There were also several ladders to go up and down as well as one rope you had to climb up into the onrushing water! After that it was back to the hostel for some dinner, drinks and good conversation with the other travelers.

Day 86 – Antigua, GU to Finca El Naranjo, GU

Day 86 – Antigua, GU to Finca El Naranjo, GU     11/15/10     Mileage: 127

I’ve been in Antigua for almost 3 weeks all together now, and although it’s a great town, I can’t wait to get back on the road. My plan is to head north towards Coban, Semuc Champey, Flores, the ruins in Tikal and then on to Belize. After catching up on some email and packing up, I was off and it felt great to be back in the bike. The air was cool and dry and the road heading northeast out of Antigua is 20 miles of twisty goodness before hitting Guatemala city. The KLR was running good and I was grinning ear to ear in my helmet.

Once on the other side of Guatemala City the road descends out of the mountains into a picturesque valley to the town of El Rancho where I passed by a nice looking restaurant. About a mile down the road, I decided to turn around and head back to get a bite to eat. As I as walking towards the front door, I was greeted (in english) by a man wearing a “Harley” style leather motorcycle vest. Well, it turns out that he is in Guatemala with 20 or so other members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association donating motorcycles (Honda CR200 dual-sports) to local pastors so they can get around…how cool is that! I guess you can spread the word of God just a little faster on a motorcycle! They offered to bless me and my bike and I gladly accepted. It was a moving moment as they all gathered around me and the bike and said a nice prayer for me, the bike and my safe travels.

The members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association and my KLR

This bike was blessed

Whether it was a growling stomach or divine intervention, either way I can’t tell you how glad I am that I turned around and came back to the restaurant to meet all those wonderful people. It seems as if I made 20 new friends just like that. If they had bikes it would have been great to ride with them…maybe another day.

To all the members of the Christian Motorcyclists Association…Godspeed to you in your work and travels.

So after saying goodbye and having a quick bite, I was back on the bike hoping to make it to Coban before nightfall. The road was awesome as it twisted its way higher into the mountains and I was enjoying every mile of it.

But it soon became apparent that the night was going to catch me before I got to Coban, and I was starting to really get concerned as dusk gave way to darkness. “Never ride at night” is the golden rule of adventure motorcycling, and I don’t relish breaking it in the remote mountains of Guatemala. Just then I passed by a hotel with a brightly lit sign, so I turned the KLR around to have a look. They did in fact have a room available, it cost only $20 and was a really nice place. So OK, the fact that a hotel appeared on an empty stretch of road at exactly the time and place I needed it is well short of a miracle, but I did thank my new friends in the Christian Motorcyclists Association for it anyway.

Day 85 – Antigua, GU

Day 85 – Antigua, GU     11/14/10     Mileage: 0

Nothing that interesting today…studying, chores and I spent a few hours cross posting the blog to an adventure motorcycle website called which I’ve been meaning to do for some time now. I did meet two more fellow travelers that were great fun to talk to. Dominik is from Germany and Jeanette is from the Sacramento, CA area and we had many good laughs over a few beers. Tomorrow it’s back on the bike!!

Day 84 – Antigua, GU

Day 84 – Antigua, GU     11/13/10     Mileage: 0

Today was a work day of sorts as I had a list of chores to do before I leave Antigua. The first order of business was to give the KLR a good check-up seeing as she’s basically been sitting for two weeks. I topped up the oil, the tire pressure, oiled the chain and a gave her a quick wash. Next was laundry and a trip to the market to get more 10w-40 oil…which the KLR drinks like keg beer in a frat house. Next I sorted through my gear to get rid of some dead weight which I will ship home first thing Monday. I also studied and did the Rosetta Stone (which is very good BTW) for a few hours and plotted some waypoints and routes between here and Belize City to download into the GPS. I’ve picked up a bit of a cold and didn’t feel like venturing out for dinner, so I just ate at the Black Cat. Fortunately the food is quite good here and somewhat reasonable by Antigua standards. I also caught up with my friends Paul, Kim and Andria from Colorado on Skype which was great. After a bit more studying of spanish and road maps, I packed it in for the night.

Here is my one token picture for today, the Fuego Volcano throwing up some ash, taken from the roof-top patio at the Black Cat. It’s like Guatemala’s answer to Old Faithful in Yellowstone! Lol

Day 83 – Antigua, GU

Day 83 – Antigua, GU     11/12/10     Mileage: 0

Last day of school (for now) today and despite what I think was a good effort I’m still struggling with even the most basic conversation. The students had another “recital” and mine was a recipe for cocadas…a local favorite similar to macaroons. So after bidding farewell to Christina and Probigua, I went back to the hotel to study before dinner. I actually had dinner plans tonight, not with some hot Latin number, but with two of my classmates…Max (from Zurich, Switzerland) and Alan (from Bavaria in southern Germany). I had mentioned to Max that I love fondue and have several fondue pots from Switzerland…and even a Swissmar raclette grill. Well, he saw an ad for a restaurant in Antigua that had Swiss fondue, so he proposed we give it a try. It was a short walk from the Black Cat to Cafe Teatro which is a very quaint place.

L to R: Alan, me and Max

The cool mountain air and setting also seemed to make fondue a more appropriate dinner choice than one might think. It also of course helps that we stumbled into the one place in Antigua that is owned by a Swiss ex-pat!

 Alan, the owner of Cafe Teatro has been living in Antigua for 11 years and is originally from Lozan, Switzerland!

Me and Alan, the owner of Cafe Teatro

Needless to say the fondue was excellent, and I even learned something new! Just before the fondue was finished, Alan (the owner) came over and asked if we’d like a raw egg. Max said yes and Alan cracked an egg into what was left of the fondue which gave us a few more savory bites. It was an awesome meal and great fun, and what would make it perfect was of course to cap it off with a nice strong schnapps! Well, unfortunately Alan didn’t have any on hand but Max asked what he would recommend as an alternate digestive, and he recommended…tequila! Lol! Well, we are still in Central America after all, so you work with what you got.

After we finished sipping our top shelf tequila, we said auf wiedersehen to Alan and Cafe Teatro and went out for a beer. We ended up in Cafe No Se where we had another couple of beers before sampling what Café No Se is really known for…mescal! The owner has his own mescal distillery in southern Mexico and he imports it. We tried 3 ages…joven (non-aged), 6 months and 1 year. There was quite a taste difference between the 3 which was interesting, but neither of us really cared for it much. I also bumped in Caroline who was there with some other Peace Corp friends.

We chatted for a bit and she helped me with my Spanish…it seems I learn better with a few drinks in me! Lol. After that it was back to the Black Cat to call it a night.

Day 82 – Antigua, GU

Day 82 – Antigua, GU 11/11/10 Mileage: 0

It was another regular day at school today followed by more studying in the afternoon. I also met 2 younger gals from the Peace Corp who were in town for a meeting and also staying at the Black Cat. Caroline and Rachel have been in Guatemala for 8 months and will be for around 2 years in total. They live in remote villages (on their own!) helping and teaching the indigenous people. They were nice enough to invite me to dinner, so I joined them. Working in remote villages, the “menu” is of course very limited so they were looking to splurge on a good dinner and settled on a very nice Italian place.

We decided to split a bottle of wine, which I ordered from the waiter American style…by butchering the name and pointing to it when he didn’t understand. He then came back at me with muy rapido espanol and I didn’t catch a word of it, so the gals (with their Spanish prowess) had to intervene and help with the translation. Oh well, so much for chivalry. Anyway, the dinner was great and where else can you get a petite filet mignon with gnocchi and a bottle of wine for $21….not in New York!

Back at the Black Cat, Caroline and Rachel went back out for desert and I had a beer with some of the other travelers who were heading north and gave me some great info on Honduras. After that I retired to my room to study for a bit before calling it a night.

Day 81 – Antigua, GU

Day  81 – Antigua, GU     11/10/10     Mileage: 0

There’s nothing to write home about today really…the usual day of school, studying and a little walk around the park. At night I had a light “Lenny” dinner of hummus, warm pita and a beer at a great restaurant/bar/book store called the Rainbow Café. It was open mic night and one young guy did an excellent job with some acoustic folk songs.

Inside the Rainbow Cafe...

The center of the bar is open to the sky and they had a little fire going…a really cool scene to break the monotony of studying for an hour. Alas, it was time to head back to the room for more Spanish and to research my next move…

Day 79-80 – Antigua, GU

Day 79-80 – Antigua, GU     11/8-9/10     Mileage: 0

 It was back to school today for more Spanish lessons with Christina. The Fuego Volcano put on quite a show which we could see right from the school patio! That’s definitely something you don’t see every day in New Jersey, but here you do!

The Fuego Volcano spewing!

After school I was off to meet up with Chris and Dave from the local motorcycle touring company. ..Moto Café.

The Moto Cafe...

Chris was going to take me over to a local welder to get my right side engine guard repaired and assist with the language barrier.

The KLR at the welder, waiting for a bit of surgery...

After arriving at the welder, Chris explained to him what I wanted which was a big help, because there was no way I was going to be able to discuss the finer points of metal welding with my limited pigeon spanish.

The before shot. The weld at the junction split all the way around, so I needed the welder to run two beads around the joint to re-join it.

The KLR under the knife so to speak...

OK, so it’s for sure not the best weld I’ve ever seen, but it cost only $9 and it is an improvement for sure….so I’ll take it.

After that errand was done, it was back to the Black Cat for more studying and an early night to bed. Tuesday it was back to school followed by more studying, an early dinner and reading up on some other destinations in Guatemala. I’m getting the itch to move on and I have to start planning my next move.

Day 77-78 – Antigua, GU

Day 77-78 – Antigua, GU     11/6-7/10     Mileage: 0

 This morning I updated the blog and did some studying on the rooftop patio. Over breakfast I had a nice conversation with a Canadian couple traveling through Central America from Panama to Belize and back.

Susan and Tyler from Canada

We had a good laugh about doing the trip in a tuk-tuk, which sounds like an absolute blast…I love the premise. Later that morning two guys staying at the hotel returned from the market with a cow eyeball and a cooked iguana. I was not going to miss out on this spectacle and it did not disappoint.

Cow eyeball anyone....anyone?

Just in case you would like to know how the locals enjoy their cow eyeballs…take one raw cow eye, slice the cornea open and suck out the gelatinous fluid in the center. Bon appetite!

First you slice the cornea...

Then you suck out the jelly inside....he's enjoying it it seems! Not.

Mmmm, mmm good...

Well done!

They only had one cow eyeball, but there was some leftover iguana…so I had a go at it. Well, it does have the texture of chewy chicken, but tastes like bad fish. Palatable, but certainly not appetizing!

How do you like your iguana?

That night I went for an early dinner back to the Travelers Menu and had another great conversation with Jerome. If you find yourself in Antigua, The Travelers Menu is a great, inexpensive and cozy place for dinner and a drink.

The Traveler's Menu in Antigua....a cozy little spot for dinner and drinks...

Inside the Traveler's Menu...

After that it was back to the room for more studying before turning in. Sunday I spent most of the day studying. I did take a little walk in the afternoon to the central park to listen to some street musicians, but was right back to the hotel to try and shoehorn more Spanish into my unwilling brain.

Day 76 – Antigua, GU

Day 76 – Antigua, GU     11/05/10     Mileage: 0

After another great breakfast at the Black Cat, it was of to school to butcher more espanol.

Another great breakfast at the Black Cat...

This morning each student had to do a presentation about the fruit we purchased in the market yesterday. Oh joy, now I get to embarrass myself in front of not only Christina but the entire school.

Setting up for the fruit demonstration and sampling...

This is an ayote, and it, ummm, tastes about as good as it looks...

This is a chirimoya, and once you get past the seeds and how it looks it is quite good...

After my torturous oratory recital on fruit and a bit more studying, I was paroled for the weekend. In the afternoon I hiked up to the Cerro de la Cruz which is a small park overlooking Antigua and the Aqua Volcano.

They do like the bare breast fountain motif here...

View of Antigua and the Agua Volcano from Cerro de la Cruz...

Another view from Cerro de la Cruz...

The view from up there was great and well worth the effort. I grabbed a quick bite on the way back to the hotel where I settled in to study for a few hours. At night I went for a few drinks at Café No Se where I met Harold from Norway.

Harold and the local fire water...

He’s a really nice guy and chatted for a quite a while. He talked his company into letting him take a 6 month sabbatical, so he’s in town relaxing and learning some Spanish.

Quezalteca Especial.....ooooph...

We drank some of the local fire water called Quezalteca Especial, and I can assure you there is nothing (e)special about it!

On beer in Guatemala…

So as I’m sure you all know, I’m a big fan of good beer, and that is the one thing that Guatemala lacks. A bar might have only 6 or 8 beers to choose from, mostly Guatemalan with 1 or 2 Mexican beers The ubiquitous beer down here is Gallo and I would liken it to Budweiser. Bravia and Victoria are two of the other big ones and they are also so so at best. Moza is a nice German style bock beer from Guatemala, but a bit too sweet to drink more than one or two. Corona is widely available as well but is more expensive being an import. Nothing is on draft here, everything is in bottles…12oz or litre size.

Alejandra told me a great joke about the local beer…

“What does Bravia have in common with having sex in a canoe? ”
“A: They are both f-cking close to water.”