Friday, November 19, 2010

San Cristobal ( Mexico) back to Antigua ( Guatemala)

More street food. Tostadas with fresh avocado, black beans, chow mein
noodles and fresh tomato salsa. Cost:  15 cents.


Mike's bag broke and carried a potato bag on his head for two days of travel.  
Looks easy next to that guy!

We then went on another awesome volcano mission: 
Volcan de Santa Maria
Elevation: 12,139 ft.


Watching all the distant volcanoes erupt.

The highest rock on this non-active volcano.

Then we went back to Quetzaltenango where Alice made us and incredible
curry dish called Balti curry.  Very spicy! 

Jeff made roasted garlic and rosemary bread.

We went to Mexico by bus so that the boys can renew there visas.

This is the introduction of Sonia.  A 24 year old Swiss-German traveler that was 
crossing the Mexican border at the same time as us. She spent the first night with us because
there was a public transportation strike and we got stuck in a not so nice town.

The street market in San Cristobal is just huge.

Jamming with my new guitar.

Saying goodbye to the great people we met in San Cristobal where we had sing alongs around the campfire every night.  What an awesome time we had.

Upon our arrival back into Guatemala we set off to hike, Tujumulco, the highest peak in Central America.  The trail was moderate and absolutely beautiful.

We camped at 13,400 ft.. We made a big fire and boiled up some ponche (apples, pears, cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and of course RUM).


 Fighting off the 25* F weather we hovered around the fire and listened to a 1973 Grateful Dead show on Jason's awesome mini-speaker.

We where the highest people in Central America at sunrise.  14,000ft. That is the shadow of the mountain we are on top of.. Full moon as well.

Not a bad place to hackeysack.

The descent back down was just as breathtaking.

We then went back to Lago Atitlan to get our bikes and get back on the rode.

I got a bad haircut by a friend a few days earlier.  Sonia spent the hour long 
ferry ride trimming and fixing my hair.

After three weeks without our bikes we finally made it back to Panajachel and packed up our gear to hit the road again.  We had had enough of those overcrowded chicken buses.
We cycled for two days to a town called San Andres.

The guitar is now a main piece of equipment.

This 20 mile dirt trail was really fun!

Descending into a town called San Andres.

Had a light spill in the loose mud.  Or is that donkey dung?

We went straight to a non-profit bike shop called Mayapedal.  This shop gets bikes donated from the United States and Canada and fixes them up for locals to use.  It's a one of a kind type of place around these parts of the world.  Being that there is no hotel in this town the volunteers that run Mayapedal let us crash for two days and do a lot of work on our bikes as well. 

Jason worked hard piecing a bike together for Sonia.  Here he is sweating in the storage room trying to match up parts that would work for the frame that he had picked out.

Bruce (a volunteer at mayapedal), also helped a lot in the building of her bike.

An absolutely incredible job done by Jason got a perfect touring bike together for Sonia in about 30 hours.  Her bike has parts from 36 different bikes.  Jason even made her storage boxes out of kitty litter boxes. 

Now it's just time to see how well she can use it.  It will be some hard first days but we have time to take it slow until she is in better shape.

Saying goodbye at mayapedal.  Thanks Bruce, Julian and Eric for letting us stay.

All ready to go but now five strong.  We are going to own the road before too long.

Didn't cycle for that long before we found a roadside stand selling cornbread and corn on the cob.

The corn was delicious with just a little bit of lime juice and salt.

Friday, October 1, 2010

2: Antigua to Panajachel ( Guatemala)

The first pic of the trip.  The social, outgoing Mike Rucke making small talk with an Antigua local.

Craig's bike with zero kilometers.

Thought we were going to some hot springs but when we got there it was a super fast water slide.  Almost too fast.

Some photogenic Guatemalan kids.

This is the kitchen were many tasting meals were made.

Vegan pancakes made with oat flax flour and a delicious blackberry sauce.

Ten days were spent around this table with one great meal after another using fresh market produce. (from left to right; Jason, Mike, Craig, Alice, and Jeff)

We like food.

With mint avocado vinaigrette.

Vegan blackberry pie with an oat flax crust.

Dessert Mike Rucke style.

For Guatemalan Independence day we invited the women who worked at the hostel for lunch.

The view from Ummagumma hostel.  Volcan de Agua in the backround.  We summited this mountain the following day.  No pictures were taken because we went with no valuables due to reports of robberies on the trail.

Wasn't long before I found a guitar.

Tamales in Antigua.

The last dry moment in 9 days and counting.  Leaving Antigua for the first kilometers.  Look how light we are riding with a homemade Denise Caparatta frame bag made from an old pair of kayaking pants.

We cycled for 15k to a town called Alotenango which is at the base of Volcan de Fuego.  When we arrived we went to the firehouse to ask for a place to spend the night and to leave our bikes for a hiking expedition.  They sent us to the church where Padre Nelson gave us a big dry room to sleep in.

From cyclists to backpackers.  Right before we set off for a 3 night camping trip up the volcano.

The first day we hiked for hours and got lost four times.  We started descending thinking that the trail was washed out by landslides.  We camped at this beautiful spot on our way back down.

When we woke up in the morning we realized that the trail was right in front of our campsite.  We talked to some campesinos who confirmed it.  So we gave it another attempt.

We hiked up to 8,000 ft..  As we were setting up camp the volcano erupted a few times shooting big clouds of smoke into the sky.  Our campsite was 3,300 ft. below the crater but only a half a mile as the crow flies.  As night fell the volcano became more active but this time shooting LAVA 200 ft. into the air.  Each time it erupted we jumped out of our tents frightened and watched in awe.  Almost no sleep was had due to the loud explosions.  At 3 a.m. Jeff and Mike started climbing up to the summit to be there at sunrise while Craig and Jason finally got some shut eye.

A cloud forest on the descent back down.

Many men like this passed us with huge loads of firewood attached with a strap across their forehead.  Pretty sure there are no chiropractors in the town below.

Lunch break on the trail.

A little more evidence of how active this volcano really is.

Just a bit dirty on the way back to town.  When we got there we stayed another night in the church and were woken up in the morning to hot coffee which was grown on the very same trail we had just hiked.  Some of the best coffee in the world.  

Back on the bikes we rode for 20k or so and ended up in a small town called Calderas.  Being that their is no logging in any of these towns we asked to speak to the mayor.  The mayor of the town let us sleep in this salon ( room for group parties).  What nice people!!

Jason on the descent from Calderas to Patzicia.  This picture was taken a few hours before hurricane Matthew hit us at full force with heavy rain and high winds.  We reached a small town 4k short of our destination as it got dark.  Shivering cold and wet like dogs left out in the storm we went to a store and asked for help.  They told us to try at the church down the rode.  We banged on a door which we thought was the church.  A scared girls voice answered, que? Mike explained that we are cold wet cyclists that desperately need some shelter.  She answered, espera un momento.  Then two men came out of the house next door and asked us if we were armed.  We responded that we are only armed with smiles and good energy.  They opened there doors and directed us to the kitchen were the fire was raging and coffee is always ready.  They fed us black beans, and a beef stew with tortillas.  Mmm!! They told us that we can spend the night.

When we woke up in the morning the wonderful women of the house told us breakfast is ready.  As we had breakfast the rains got heavier.  We were told that we are welcome to stay as long as we want to wait out the storm.  We asked if we could do anything to help around the house and the women said no.  We then asked if we can help making tortillas which are made twice a day.  Surprised because no man ever cooks, she laughingly said of course.

Step one:  Cook dried corn kernels over a slow burning fire.  They harvest the corn once a year from their land.

Step two:  The ten year old girl brings the cooked corn to the town molino (mill).

Step three:  Slap the dough to shape.  Not easy!!!

Step four:  Cook the tortillas on this iron hot plate that sits on top of a wood burning fire.

Step five:  Eat these delicious tortillas with every meal, everyday.

Corn in another form.

Craig jamming with the band which consists of family members.

A group shot with the family.  Thank you so much!!

Although the rains continued we decided it was time to go and we made our way towards Panajachel.

A newly formed river completely washed away the paved road that is at both ends of this picture.

The worst landslide that we encountered just above Panajachel.  This landslide had happened just hours earlier.  We had no choice but carry our bikes over it.


We arrived to Panajachel where we had a host.  We had nice warm showers.  There was a guitar there as well.

Then the cooking began all over again.  How about some pizza!! Us east coasters love our pizza!!

Roasted red pepper and garlic pesto pie!!

Enjoying a pineapple and broccoli pie with our hosts Nancy and Matthew (fellow touring cyclists).  Thanks guys!!