The following are photos and thoughts from the last 1000km or so through Central America…
Antigua, Guatamala. Sick in bed, hate being sick and not having energy. Body says rest, mind gets restless. Guatamala physically beautiful, many more rivers and huge volcanoes growing out of green fields. Semana Santa celebrations have us unknowingly stuck in the odd parade, lots of colours. Being sick has me in the wrong mindset, but still I can’t say I’m as fond of Guatamala as Mexico. Some places have me feeling the less positive relationship between foreigners/locals, perhaps resulting from the intensity of tourism. Reminds me of sometimes hostile relationship between foreign and local in Morocco! The highlight has been getting to know my cousin better! Good to see you Maggie!
Barberena, Guatamala. Climbed crazy hills out of Antigua, bypassing the sprawl and industrialization of Guatmala City and staying in the cool mountains. Dense population. Moving by bicycle is lesson in globalization. Ride from hyper-tourist enclave then through sad towns that seem to exist only around minding/industrial factories. Massive pollution, metalic streams with open runnoff from factories. People look at you like you shouldn’t be there, perhaps because it is a sad place, or a secret we’re not supposed to know about. It wasn’t included on the tourist brochure. Happy we are out of the tourist zone, but still will be happy to make Salvador.
San Salvador, El Salvador. This country is so calm and quiet. Even after some reading into it’s past, you often don’t feel the threat and activities you know are there. Remarkably lazy rest day’s staying with Agustine & Elodie – a really happy friendly and warm couple. They do not sell our tube sizes anywhere, and after surviving almost 4,000km without a flat, my luck has drastically changed. My tube is starting to look like it has chicken pox.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Wild crowds & excitement at national students of the America’s summit. Refreshing atmosphere surrounded by students on National University campus for event. Baleada is delicious honduras street food. Every country has their signature simple street dish, often variations on torillas and beans with eggs or tomatoes or advocado or cheese. Baleada’s have think cream sauce. Sad to see young people getting high on glue in the main downtown square. Definitely roughest city I have seen this trip, perhaps in my life. Highest homocide rate in the world, nearly twice Venezula which is the second. Much of the violence between Tegucigalpa & San Pedro Sula the big urban centres. However, really grea to see a familiar face from Trent, my friend Christian! Long conversations w/ Christian on 2009 coup, manifestations of violence & resistance, social justice, art, special economic zones and privatization. Restful day with him and his family in the mountains.
San Lorenza, Honduras. This bus acts as the lifeblood of the countryside. It’s an old bus, stallling at stops and breathing heavy diesil fumes. Buses here operate with one driver and two helpers who in addition to collecting fares, hang off the sides of the bus so they can quickly jump around – delivering hot meals and baby chickens to women waiting patiently on the roadside. Men sit further off on patio’s offering cheerful yells and hollars in different directions. I’m still not sure with how much accuracy or intent these calls to friends or great excliminations are, but it’s nice to know it’s not just me on my bicycle at the receiving end. At one stop, the helper who took my 60 Limpra jumps off on my side of the bus, delivering a tin wrapped meal and a plastic bag of goods to his patiently waiting wife. As the bus slowly starts to roll again he kisses his baby and wife and runs to jump back on. His daughter yells “papi, papi” as the bus moves down the mountain again.
Honduras-Nicaragua border. Corruption is cancerous. Well there’s a little more to the story than that like well, history, but still – dealing with chauvinistic men who spend too much time sitting is still annoying. I met Riley on the Honduras border, that was pretty funny. I was just waiting around with the crew while the border staff ate because I didn’t feel like paying the $2 for them to stamp your passport while they ate. They were actually super friendly though, Nicaragua side was much worse (and more costly). Anyway, Riley is from Austin, Tx where I started, and he’s riding with 3 doing the common AA trip (Alaska to Argentina). They are making a film and a brief look at the page reveals some pretty stunning photography and cool ultra-high def trailers. Sometimes I wish I had someone to take really cool looking pictures of me and my experiences instead of my crappy and now zoom-less point and shoot camera. Oh well…
Leon, Nicaragua. Sitting in the central square in front of a huge cathedral. Saturday night, kids with ballowns, clowns, ice cream, young couples and retired men. Sitting here for a while and waiting has let me slow my thoughts and relax – a welcome change in this moment. All kinds of interesting people have come to talk and inquire, but not in the way I am used to. Rather, that’s just what people do here on a warm breezy evening… such a wonderfully social place. Have more and more chances to practice Spanish has also been empowering. I think I carried the anxiety and choas of loud trucks in horns with me a little too far, but now feel really relaxed with the soft church choir echoing from the cathedral. Sometimes the challenge may be to slow down.
CA1, southern Nicaragua, Nicaragua. Full of energy and happiness. On days like this, world cycling tour feels like it’s just relaxing in your legs, waiting for you to say go. Just passed by Don who was headed north, we chatted heartily for 30 minutes – info on what’s to come, stories. Found out Panama-Colombia ferry stopped running yesterday!!! They were an Italian boat and crew, are returning now to the Mediterranean for the summer season. On the forums there is a long history documenting different ferries and ways to cross the Derrien gap and make it into Colombia, there are sail boats which take you on a little cruise but are $$$, sometimes unreliable, captians often alcoholics (I heard this from multiple sources). Will look into options. Still, energizing to chat with Don, he is 77 and seeing the world by bike!