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!!