Adios, Mexico! Hola, Centro America!

from m.piem.org

Since leaving the chilly mountain town, San Cristobal, we descended the mighty mountains of Chiapas to the lowlands of the Yucatan- just in time for the high-peak of the dry season. Yay….

Our last stop in Mexico, was the archaeological zone, Palenque. It’s the first archaeological temple in a jungle setting, that I visited. It was impressive, but it had has been the 4th ruin that I’ve visited. I’ll take two more visits to Tikal and Machu Picchu- and no more.

The archaeological site, Palenque.

It’s hot and there is no escaping this heat. However, I’d like to announce that I completed riding through Mexico! After 5,000 kilometers from border city, Nogales to a ramshackle border town, El Ciebo, I crossed the Guatemalan border on May 2 2012 with Paul. We saw many Central American “illegals” making the long trek on the northbound road as we approached the boarder.. We spent the night 40 kilometers near the Guatemala border on May 1st- my birthday. Many warned that the area near the Guatemalan border and Mexico would be “dangerous”. But is was all great and relaxed. We shared our water with a few Hondurans (crossing illegally?) and saw a few more migrating walkers the following day, The only interactions we had were nothing more than a “hola”. The crossover was relaxed (but expensive- USD $20 to exit).

The eastbound highway at 7 am- the last morning in Mexico.

On my quarter century birthday morning, I sat in a cow field eating oatmeal in 90 F/33 C degree weather, naked-like-the-day-I-was-born. Naked, not for tradition- but because I didn’t want to wear my disgusting stink and sweat soaked clothes until I had to put them on for riding. I suffered a little more from a wasp sting before breakfast and bitten by fire ants at dinner. I was more than “uncomfortable”, yet still, I maintained a “happy” birthday smile as I reminisced the past 25 years of life. I can proudly say, that one of the biggest challenges I recently overcame for the travel dream- to lose the fear and cycle through the country of Mexico.

My route of Mexico. Time to discard it and pull out the Central American map!

The generosity of the people is no different than Mexico, but there are some differences cycling in Guatemala. There is less industrial and urban development in the Peten region, allowing the jungle terrain to flourish. There is more poverty in Guatemala. There is a limited selection of food in the village stores. It is more expensive to buy food and gasoline (for our stoves) by 60%. In Mexico, it’s common to see dogs roaming the neighborhood. Here, in Guatemala, the king of the road is the Pig. Mud covered pigs cross the roads, savaging for food.

Pigs, goats, dogs… I see them often

But, this was the first…

Yes, her name is Chama. Sadly, on a leash ready for sale. Paul and I took the afternoon break from the sun to adore little Chama.

Monkey on a bike tour

It’s a challenge to ride in this heat! Only before 1 pm can we ride until we take our 5 hour breaks in the shade. The evenings are no better. Because it is warm at night too. We cannot escape the constant sweating and residue funk.

Arriving to Flores was the nice break we needed. Flores is a island surrounded by the blue Lake Peten Itza. We spent the afternoon with two travelers from Amsterdam at a lake-front cafe and refreshed by jumping into the lake. The reward we rode hundreds of kilometers for.

A view of the Lake Peten Itza from the cafe.

Yes, it’s harsh. Biting bugs and heat will be the many challenges to ride through Central America’s lowlands. We are riding eastbound to visit Belize. We wont sense the cool break until we reach the Belize beaches, in the meantime we’re praying for rain.

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6 thoughts on “Adios, Mexico! Hola, Centro America!

  1. Blessed marie, thank you. I love you. You inspire me. Ive just decided to blog about my own journey- of returning to detroit for my mother’s healing. And we breathe…. Breathe breathe deep. Love from the heart, as bless-ed you be.

  2. Hi Marie, just a little traveler’s tip, if not a solution something to ease the discomfort. Did you bring any chord or line with you? The sun has antibacterial effects and if you leave your clothes out in it for a few hours it can reduce the stink of your clothes. Other than that, I wonder if you’ve seen groups of people washing their clothes on flat rocks on river banks yet?

    Migrant workers have been normal for at least thousands of years. They keep our food cheap and do the backbreaking work most of us city dwellers are unwilling or unable to do. Many people have become disconnected from common science like harvesting and ripening seasons (aka “in season”) and don’t understand that the work is only temporary as long as the season lasts then they move on to the next crop/job. They’ve only recently started being called “illegals” because of the people who have become so lost (not implying you or your readers) and disconnected from their own planet and don’t even know how it works any more. And I realize you don’t think of them as “illegal” hence your quotation marks. It just concerns me how much of western society has lost that simple understanding and is losing its humanity.

    Very very Cute monkey! Too bad you couldn’t bring him with you. Perhaps on the return trip. ¡Y tambien cumpleaños feliz!

    • Well said, Charles.
      Yes, I look back at that word, and it’s uncomfortable for me to have used it to describe these brave souls- Paul and I took a moment to think how we complain about riding in the hot sun- when these guys are walking for their lives to make a living. It’s been an eye opening experience to explore these parts of the world. It get’s interesting as we move in between the indigenous and westernized zones There is the highway shared between N. Guatemala, where the Mayan people are (to economic standards) poor, and just across the border. On the same road, the westernized influenced, Belize, has and operates on available goods (sorta ridiculous to see imported Austrian cheese – when we were able to buy fresh Guatemalan cheese for US $2) I try to imagine what better systems could exist for a (better?) unison of countries. Yes, this westerners paradise is something else..

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