Synopsis: Mostly downhill. Beautiful route. Perfect weather. Wonderful campsite.
(I am adding this section in the blog for those who don’t have time to read, the synopsis will give a brief idea of the day on the road)
I slept pretty alright, after quite a number of days I must say, and was up at 6 AM. But with no windows to let in the light, I decided to snooze till 7 and headed out for a b’fast. By the time I head out on the road it was almost 8:30. The road I had scanned to go south (there is but one option) was really gently, a few rolling hills and mostly downhill, heh. Should be a good day on the road I reckon’d.
I headed uphill from San Cristobal and got to the town of Santa Cruz. This seemed to be a bigger spot and even had a police station, might have been a good spot for camping, ah well. I rode thro town and kept going as I felt pretty decent in terms of energy.
As I got closer to the next town of Tactic, the scenery changed quite a bit. This route was in a valley between two mountain ranges and kept low and flat most of the way. It seemed like I was back in Oregon or something, the weather was mild and the mountains were stunningly beautiful. There was a lot of farming (mostly vegetables) at the lower slopes, but the higher regions seemed to be untouched forests. Beautiful views for the day and given I was on rolling hills most of the time, it was a real enjoyable time.
Tactic seemed to be some sort of Diary center and everyone was advertising for cheese and milk products. The cheeses here are mostly soft and won’t keep very well in the sun and I couldn’t buy any. If I had found aged cheddar, I’d have picked up in a heartbeat. Once out of tactic, I found a fancy looking place and since they had good coffee and wifi, I stopped there for a bit to send some notes to warmshowers hosts in Honduras.
After the longish stop, I got back on the beautiful road and enjoyed my ride till I got near the town of Purulha. I was having a feeling that this place seemed too surreal unless it was a protected land and lo and behold, I find out that I was near a eco preserve and I was going to have another 30 or so k’s of pristine forests. I stopped for lunch and spied a map which pointed out to the region as “Biotopo del Quetzal”. See Quetzal is this absolutely gorgeous bird found in these parts (I saw one in the Tepic Zoo) and also the national Bird of Guatemala. The waiter even mentioned that I should be able to spot some on my way. I know from experience that its really hard and so much luck to spot one near civilisation. Ah well. Anyhow, this area is protected as a habitat for the pretty bird and was filled with private nature reserves (I wonder what that actually means). Once again there were a lot of vegetable farms near the road in the lowlands, but higher up it seemed to be preserved well.
After lunch, I headed on the road and the sun had disappeared and the cool weather was fantastic to ride on (I guess I will get down to heat and humidity soon enough). I passed thro numerous private reserves and was tempted to stop in some place and camp out in the pretty forest. The last reserve on the route was Rio Escondido and though it was only 3 pm and I had barely done 60 km, I decided to stop for the day and hang about for the evening.
The camp site was expensive, they wanted 50Q, but I bargained a bit and got a nice gazebo to hammock in for 20Q. The fellers were friendly and the place was right next to a pretty river. A bit of skinny dipping to clean up and the rest of the evening was free to hand out and take a walk.
Route: San Cristobal Verapaz to Rio Escondido (Biotopo Del Quetzal)
Distance: 60 km
Ascent: 614 m
Descent: 544 m
Expenses: $ 17.60
Comment: I felt I could easily ride for another couple of hours. It’s good to be back.