Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of this episode in my trip because my camera was stolen.
Crossing the border into Guatemala at Talisman fairly easy, although the place was littered with people trying to “help.” As I entered the border, all these guys started waving cash at me, wanting to change my pesos into Guatemalan quetzales. A few guys ran after me as I cycled by. One guy caught up with me and wanted to show me where to go and what to do. I kept telling him “Estoy bien solo” but he wouldn’t go away. I was consistent, and I finally wore him down.
On the Guatemalan side, I rode up to an area that I thought was immigration. I asked the security guards,but I didn’t understand them. Being a confused gringo on a loaded bike, I attracted a lot of attention, and soon I had about fifteen people surrounding me, laughing.
A couple of them urged me to follow them, so in desperation, I did. They led me back to immigration. I got my passport stamped and paid about $1. The guys who helped me wanted me to get a photocopy of my passport at a place opposite the immigration office. It seemed like a scam. “Give me your passport. I will be back in a moment with your photocopies.” Then I’d probably have to pay them to get my passport back. Who knows? I’m just imagining. I told them no. They threw their hands at me, frustrated with the cheap, paranoid gringo.
I rode away from the border, and got my money changed at a small hotel. I didn’t want to deal with a hustling money-changer on the street.
A New Country
The road was good. A tiny shoulder, but the drivers gave me some respect, and didn’t pass too close. I passed through lots of small villages. People were out farming, cutting stuff down with their machetes, and carrying loaded baskets on their heads and piles of wood on their backs. I got some curious looks, but also a lot of smiles, and greetings. A couple of times, a car slowed down beside me to ask where I was going and where I came from.
I was on flat land for a while, longer than I should have been. I realized later that somehow I missed a turn, and I was going the long way to Xela. Although it was longer, it was probably better to stick to the lowlands and then cut up to Xela, instead of going the whole way through the mountains.
At one point when I stopped to rest, an old man with a brimmed hat and a machete came trudging by. I said, “Buenas tardes.” He turned around, his face lit up with a big smile, and he gave me a big “Bueeenas taardes!” back. Nice old man. I was struck by that.
I hit the mountains, and some of those climbs were really steep. More work than fun. I saw that the clouds were getting dark, ready to rain, so I stopped to package up my tent with some garbage bags. As I finished, a truck pulled up, and the driver asked me something I didn’t understand, but I figured he was offering me a ride. So I lifted my heavy-ass bike into the back of his truck and hopped in.
His name was Victor Hugo. Cool name. I tried to make some conversation with my shitty Spanish, and he was patient with me. We stopped at a roadside table-and-chairs setup, and he bought me a Gallo beer, the national brand. He wasn’t going all the way to Xela, but could bring me pretty close.
As I was unloading my bike from his truck, he yelled at the first passing pickup truck, “Xela!” The truck stopped. Victor asked the driver if he could take me the rest of the way to Xela. I unloaded my bike from Victor’s truck into another one.
Jesus was happy to take me to Xela. And he spoke English pretty well. I apologized for my Spanish, and he agreed saying my Spanish was bad. It was a weird thing to say, but I think he was joking around with me. I think. We exchanged information before he dropped me off. He told me I should call him if I need any help.
I met with Eddy, my CouchSurfing host. Not much happened in Xela, but I watched “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson since it came on the TV. Where am I?