Today we planned to make it the last day in Mexico and head into Guatemala. We were about 40 k’s from the border and optimistically I’d have expected getting into Guat and ride up for another 30 or so K’s given the border controls and all. So we started early and it was a nice bit of downhill heading out to the border.
The morning was cool and cloudy and the descent was sweet. I knew the roads were good and could bomb thro the downhills, it was sweet indeed. Once we got to the border, we stopped for a last Mexican meal and hit up the border control. The place was quiet, I suppose it sees only bus loads of tourists once in a while and stays calm otherwise. The officer was a nice chap and we got thro the Mexican border quickly, after an obligatory photoshoot, heh.
We rode down to the river and hailed a boat for 20 pesos a pop and loaded up the bikes and crossed over. Here’s a bit that’s useful for cyclists. The border control in Guatemala is in a town called Bethel and the boat ride is a bit pricy. backpackers have not much of a choice and have to head to Bethel I reckon. But cyclists, with our own wheels can choose to make the short crossing at 20 pesos and brave the village roads and ride up to Bethel. And there in lies the adventure.
The ride out of this small village was on gravel, Loose gravel and with up slopes reaching 15% often. The route was beautiful with some small villages and kids screaming all along the way, but pushing the bike up 15% grades on loose gravel in the heat, requires a certain sense of masochism. It was about 12 km to the border control in Bethel but is a really tough ride. I was Zoned in and kept riding and pushing my way thro and at some point left the team behind.
It was funny with some of the village kids shouting “Gringo, Gringo” at me. In my mind, Gringo meant American I suppose. And I shouted back, “No Gringo, Soy Asiatico”. It was hard ride, but fun all the same. I got to the border post and got my papers stamped and waited for the rest to arrive.
It was an hour later when they showed up in a bus, heh. They had given up on gravel and hailed a minibus which was heading to the town of Flores, a touristic town about 125 K’s away. They had decided to head to FLored the same day and I figured I might join them too. The gravel had become hard pack by this time, but I figured It would be fun to hang about and do some tours together in Tikal etc… So we took the bus to Flores.
The road was full of potholes and the bus took a long while on it before we hit asphalt. By the time we reached Flored, it was 8pm and dark. We rode into the tourist district, found a restaurant to eat at and found a place to stay. From the initial feel of the place, the tourist part of Guatemala was pretty darn expensive. I usually end up spending a bit more than I should on the first couple of days in a new country, and it was the same here. I guess tomorrow might be a day to rest up in town and head to Tikal the day after. From what I gather, Tikal is in the league of Angkor Wat or Bagan and it’d be time to go Sunset Slutting. Ah well.
Route: Lacanja (Mexico) to Bethel (Guatemala) and Flores
Ascent: 442 m
Descent: 632 m
Expenses: $ 49.18
Comment: Mexico, You have treated me well. Hope to see you soon!