Page 15: - No Return Ticket - Just a Ride Report /w Pics - From the beginning
Guatamala: Sunday morning and We Are In Guatemala :) The sky is bright and our attitudes are even brighter. A couple thick corn tortillas and some left over salsa from dinner last night is a perfect way to start the day, especially the first day in Guatemala.
Our back roads rout takes us through several small villages. Putting down the kickstand at a little store Heidi sees a dead dog right next to my foot. She goes running away saying "pick me up over here when you're done". We love dogs and we have seen more dead dogs in the last two weeks than we have seen in our lifetime combined.
At another small town we couldn't help notice a buzz of activity. People are coming from all directions heading toward a market area.
A loud squeal, this pig didn't want to go any further so the woman just picks it up and starts carrying it. The whole event looks so natural and routine.
We could have stopped every 5 minutes for photos but only stopped a few times. A fantastic ride through the mountains and through the small Guatemalan villages is a highlight of this trip so far, wow!
The most dramatic thing noticeable right away riding through Guatemala is how green everything is, long green grass, big green trees, huge green plants. This makes the riding very interesting and gives us a feeling that we are in a cool and exotic place. Another noticeable thing right away is the lack of supplies in the small town corner stores. Patronizing small village stores for supplies while on the road is an ultimate pleasure but here there are not the supplies we were use to. The highlands of Western Guatemala are way different from anywhere we traveled in Mexico. Another thing noticeable entering Guatemala is how hard it is understanding the Spanish spoken to me, and the hard a time people are having understanding me, this is weird. The challenge continues…….
You can't help notice the huge public transportation system that's in place in Guatemala. There are old school buses painted to the hilt riding everywhere and picking up whoever is along side the road. We see modern or old mini-vans cramming as many people inside as possible. Everyone seems to know just what to do. A bus or van stops, someone jumps out and quickly climbs up on the roof and throws something off to a person waiting below. The climber hurries back into the bus or van and they are off again, it's poetic.
The next city where we thought we could find a hotel is Quetzaltenango, or the Mayan name 'Xela' for short. Our guidebook has a map of the city and a detailed map of the central zone. We have a good feel about a hotel we read about in our guidebook that's right in the heart of the central zone, Pension Andina. We found it after circling around the central park only a few times. Every road is one way here but the city is laid out in an understandable grid pattern with numbered streets and avenues. The guidebook says this hotel (Pension Andina) has unlimited hot water, a beautiful plant filled patio and is spotless. After we inspect the parking, a secure and locked inside parking lot, we inquire about the price, $65 / week. Xela is known for its adventure hikes and Spanish schools, two things we are interested in. We sign up for one week.
The Parque Centroamerica is only 3 blocks away. It's a beautiful park with lots of seating, plants and people of all types walking around and hanging out. The park is surrounded by a beautiful church, natural history museum, restaurants, a bar and a few banks. There are also people sitting around selling handmade stuff, shining shoes and cooking and selling food. The atmosphere is cheery and friendly. The city park also has a number of foreign students hanging out. This is a favorite city for Spanish language students who want to be immersed into a more traditional Guatemalan city life.
Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala……….
(Warning! Tons of pics)
Heidi and I love to explore a new city on foot.
2 miles north of Parque Centroamerica is another park surrounded by a bustling street market.
Heidi enjoys buying pretty hand made bracelets, 39 cents to 65 cents.
You can buy just about anything out on the streets here.
It's hard to tell but those blackberries are almost the size of golfballs. We bought what we thought were limes but after cutting them open we found them to be orange colored. They tasted tart like limes but with a slight orange taste. What are these things? We have fun buying new fruits from places like this and trying them out.
A couple more miles west is another even bigger and more bustling market centered at the fairgrounds. Well, we have to check this place out …….
Deep inside the Fairgrounds market:
These are small fish.
All the close up and intimate photos like this I would first inquire about what a certain item was they were selling, then ask permission to take a photo. I always received a huge smile and an OK. A lot of times the subject would get shy and turn away. Not this kid!
Later in the day the place got even more crowded and busy. Sometimes we would wait for a long time just to get through.
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