Antigua to Palenque, part 1

I arrived at Parque Central early. I wanted a walk around before leaving.
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The plan is to swing back through for a tire and oil change on my way south again, but this felt like leaving.

Julio shows up for our 7:00 am start. Julio’s been riding in Central America for 30 years. He rode out for a couple of the shakedowns in the last few days, including taking Taz me and Bo to a Macadamia Nut ranch for lunch one day.
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A couple of days ago we went for a group ride. Julio and his wife Luisa, Taz and Abbey, Bo and Claudia and me. Parking lot portrait shots, haha

Abbey, Taz and Bo
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Julio and Luisa
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Me and Claudia
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So back to the story.

Julio shows up and without killing his engine, smiles and said *shall we go?* and off we went. Julio refers to Guatemalans as mountain people and he’s got a mountain route planned accordingly.

Our first stop is at the ruins of Iximche (now normally I’d add some research to all this but since this is a multi-post evening I’ve got to motor through some of it. And I need space to write up the kidnapping. Ha, now you’re hooked)
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This is the best preserved of the structures. The whole site was in an advanced state of erosion. Originally the city looked like this
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Meanwhile the bikes took an opportunity to get to know each other. Lucinda thought she was nice but pretty quiet for a big girl
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Then it’s that damn blast through Chimaltenango
P1050240Then on through the tightening landscape, into the hills. Guatemala, a small country, has a population of 12M and 3M live in the CIty. So no matter what view you have (in the south and southwest) you see and travel through pueblos frequently. The towns look like they’re poured into the valley bottoms. More later.
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Soon we arrive at the town of Chichicastenango. God what a cool name. Unlike, say, Squamish.
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We parked below the church steps
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Here’s Julio navigating us there

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Up in the hills again Julio tells me Canadian mining companies are the diablo here right now. Signs are graffiti’d with their pissed-offness. Lucinda growls as we go by *leave my boy alone*. She’s so sweet
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Then through more towns in the hills. Beautiful churches everywhere
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Then it’s miles and miles of twisties, gaining elevation the whole time, into a valley
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Perfect
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And we pulled up to this farmhouse for the night
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Why so dark? Because the minute we arrived a thunderstorm rolled in. This was to happen each night at roughly the same time. It started with a heavy hail and kept up until after I was asleep. I was concerned the dirt ride in was going to be quagmire leaving.

The ride in

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In the morning the weather is cheerier and the dirt ride no issue
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Then back into the hills. Julio and I reckon that in 200 miles we’ve not ridden a straight more than 500 yards long. Endless bliss. Although the roads are sometimes sketchy and nearly always dirty. I’m getting my riding form back, i.e.. not thinking about it.

But look out for the road hazards

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We go through a series of towns that are full of Mayans

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I hope you’re clicking on the videos. They give a good impression of riding through this country! And they’re a pain to edit and upload.

Each one has a stage set up. Julio finds out quickly that the President of Guatemala is stumping the area. He says the Mayans have been trucked in and they won’t understand a word he says anyway. Each town is crawling with security. We watch a bomb dog at the first town spend a full 30 minutes sniffing the stage.

Anyway I think the Mayan women are gorgeous. When I mention this people look at me like I’m weird. But they have lovely upturned love eyes that remind me of Laura Bush.
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Later it’s my turn through town. I think I’m doing a masterful job it but Julio points out I’ve gone down two one-way streets the wrong way. But I’m having fun. Time to stop with that

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Up through the hills again
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Julio has a different destination in mind we pass Mayans doing laundry in a stream in an open field. We’re now at serious altitude, about 11,000 feet
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It’s a great dirt ride in and we arrive at another of Juilo’s secret finds. This time another farm house, but with an equestrian bent. The ride to it is about 10 miles of high-altitude plain, with sparsely spaced, poor, homesteads. As Julio passed a small group of 20-somethings they make menacing gestures at him. I talk to him about this immediately we arrive. He blows it off. But maybe just for my benefit.

We arrive, tired but happy. A great day
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