Tuesday 30 April 2013

Palenque to Catenaco

Just before we left Palenque I noticed the dreaded topes had broken my pannier rack again in the same place it was welded before so I was quite glad when we hit the main road to Villahermosa, smooth (er) tarmac and no more speed bumps. We made great progress doing the first 230 miles in superquick time thanks to the deserted toll road but of course its never easy all the time so we turned off towards Catenaco on the smaller roads, painfully slow progress with multiple road works and slow trucks to make sure we felt some pain and of course more topes!
We were both glad when we rolled into this pretty town on the shore of Lake Catenaco, a bit like St Fillans except for the people and the architecture and the temperature (35Deg C) so really nothing like St Fillans except its next to the water! We found a good hotel for £25 a night and had a great meal of beef fajitas, tortillas, a couple of Pina Coladas and some cold coronas for about £10 so all is well  here. This morning I got my pannier frame welded for £2.50 and that included the tip to the guy who collected and delivered it back to the Hotel.
The plan next is to head nearer Mexico City and hopefully get into the City on Thursday to sample the delights of riding in a place with 9 million people! (half the population of Chile.....take me back to the empty roads...)
 Our next door neighbour last night was the google street view car so our bikes will maybe end up on Google street view in Mexico!
 Gone fishing!
 Town Hall
 As always nice church
I don't like Pina Colados1

 Punk birds
 Ready for the tourists but I get the feeling we're the only ones in town 
 Token Tourist
 BIG statue of fisherman
 We think this queue was for the finance office
A very common sight around Mexico, not as friendly as the Colombian Army in general

Sunday 28 April 2013

San Cristobel to Palenque

We left yesterday morning and made our way to Palenque, a cracking road with excellent scenery spoiled by the speed bumps, several times they caught me unaware and had me out the seat, they even have them on corners. En route we stopped to speak to fellow travellers Billy & Trish from Australia, some good banter and found out Billy is a Norton fan so plenty common ground! Trish is on a 250 Kawasaki which is currently on 182,000 KM, proving you don't need a big bike to travel the world (they are already on over 100 countries!)
We stopped a bit up the road to see the Agua Azul waterfalls, pretty nice but getting fed up being hassled by the street vendors all the time! Today we went to the Mayan ruins at Palenque, we tried to get there early but the tourists beat us to it and after an hour and a half it was just full of coach parties, my idea of hell so we left! Some pics to share with you to get a better feel of how its all panning out
 In San Cristobel at night, note behind me all the Mexican Mariachi guys hanging about...maybe Mariachi X factor?
 My bag fell off my bike going over a speed bump, I turned round but a guy had already picked it up and of course wanted a tip, not sure what a 5 foot Mexican would have done with my trousers , T shirt and size 12 (smelly) trainers if I hadn't gone back.... 

 Fellow travellers Billy & Trish with Fiona and small boy who hung around most of the time we were there, top photo is Trish's Kawa!
 Billy's 800GS
 Aguas Azul......Public baths??

 Nice spot to sweat in your bike gear!!
 Mayan Ruins, Palenque, quite impressive

 Tourist Photo!
 Temple of the scull,

 My attempt at art!!
 Indiana Jones?

 Quite a big place, it seems that they build a temple to bury their leaders in when they died, bet the brickies were poisoning the soup when work was slack!!

Saturday 27 April 2013

Leaving Guatemala & into Mexico

Yesterday we left Antiqua, in the process of doing so we bumped into Julio, a well known Austrian who has lived in Guatemala for a long time, it was a fortuitous meeting as he was able to give us loads of advice on Mexico and in doing so saved us a laborious 1000 mile detour to see some Mayan ruins, there are better ones closer so thanks for all the tips Julio. I mentioned Johnny Walker on the last blog, you will all be glad to know that the two bottles came in tins which are the perfect size for my Panama Hat & Fiona's new shoes!

It was around 180 miles to the border town of La Democracia and found an excellent hotel for under £30 for the night (and that was the expensive room!) The main meal was £3 and excellent, if you are passing try Occiental Valley hotel if you need to stop near the border. The ride was good in bits and quite tiring in others, hairpins galore and of course trucks & cars galore spewing out fumes & smoke.
One of the crowded towns we went through!
 And another
 Fi Takes the lead
 80% of the vehicles smoke like this!!
 Diet Pepsi break!
 Glad to be washed and out of the bike gear at the Hotel
This morning (Friday) we headed the 10 miles to the border, it was an easy one, out of Guatemala in 10 minutes, money changed at a bad rate! Then the import to Mexico, all in all probably an hour which wasn't bad at all, we got confused as the time has changed again, now back to 6 hours behind home. The costs for Mexico were $48.85 US for producing the import paper $295 Mex Pesos for immigration (we think) about £15 and a $400 US deposit against ensuring we take the bikes out again, we get this back when we cancel the import papers.
Into Mexico and two Army stops, pretty sure they are just bored and want to look at the bikes, the other thing we have endured since yesterday is the dreaded topes (speed bumps) every village and town you go through we think has a competition to see who can build the biggest and most, the sections of clear road though has been excellent. We are now in the old Colonial town of San Cristobel de las Casas (now both bored with colonial!) which seems to be a magnet for hippies and wierdos, also seems to have a ridiculous amount of pubs (mostly empty) and more shops selling home made knick knaks than seems sensible!
Tomorrow we head to see the Mayan ruins West of here in Palenque.
 Money changer "This is a very good rate for you" Aye right!!

 Wooden Bus
 Colonial Church
 Getting a bit boring now
 Lunch on the bandstand
 The Bandstand
 Yip, another church
 Protestors have taken over a part of the square and are squatting here
 Cool VW Beetle, they are everywhere here

Church on a hill, quite cool!