Guatemalan Roads – pushing on to Salama
Out of Petén and into Alta Verepaz. Have I already mentioned the Guatemalan roads? We heard there were big climbs, complete with smog-belching, fast-rolling chicken buses (like Fernandita, pictured here). The buses aren’t bad at all, but the roads are definitely steep…
Out of Flores we rode through 2 days of rolling hills and 100+ degree temperatures before we landed in the beautiful range of mountains that is the Northern gateway to Alta Verepaz. After taking a couple of easy days around the Candaleria Caves, the rain began and we started toward Coban. We spent 2 nights in Chisec where we visited some local lagunas in the Mayan village hillsides and ate a lot of grilled meats (pretty much the typical staple in Guatemala, aside from fried chicken).
Did I already mention that Guatemalan roads are steep? The final ride from Chisec to Coban was the most intense ride to date. The Guatemalans’ lack of grading skills shone it’s face once more and we got a hell of a lot of use out of our granny-gears. Both Gin and Mike were under the weather so they caught a ride in a truck for the latter half of the day, but I decided to up the misery-index and climb a whopping 7,064′ to get myself into Coban right before nightfall. Ouch.
Over the next few days in Coban, the rain continued and brought a cold-front dipping temperatures into the 30s. However, we were still able to take a couple of day trips to the Vivero Verepaz orchid sanctuary and Lanquin/Semuc Champey, where Gin and I got stuck due to missing the last combi (microbus) back to Coban. So we stayed in the small mountain town of Lanquin for the night and got the first bus back the next morning.
The ride out of Cobån ascended through the cloud forest corridor where we stopped for the night in the Reserva de Mario Dary (quetzal biotope). Named after Mario Dary, who in 1988 was murdered after a long fight to save this preserve for the Resplendant Quetzal. Unfortunately, while we were there we didn’t see a quetzal, but we heard one and I think we’ll have plenty of other opportunities to catch a glimpse of this magnificent bird.