Day 25 My kingdom for a stretch of flat and straight road

Published: June 23rd 2015
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Distance driven today: 184 miles / 296 km

Cumulative distance driven: 6,476 miles / 10,422 km

Today’s trip: Huehuetenango to Guatemala City, Guatemala

Indigenous masks bought for Christer’s collection: 1

Entering Guatemala, through the northwest region, also means that the entire road infrastructure quality dropped a few notches compared to Mexico. At the same time as the poverty level in the villages along the road became starkly visible. But perhaps the most noticeable change is the fact that the average driving speed immediately dropped to 30mph / 50km/h. This is primarily due to all the slow moving trucks, endless curves, constant grades thought the hills and mountains, and the complete lack of any chance to overtake other vehicles (even when driving a motorcycle!). Up until southern Mexico I could easily ride 250-400 miles / 400-650 km per day. Since yesterday, we are lucky if an entireriding day covers a distance of 150 miles / 250 km!

Driving on the main road that goes through Guatemala, which is part of the PanAmerican highway, turns out to contain extremely few, if any, stretches of road that are straight and aren’t graded. During endless hours of driving, the road constantly curves to the left or right, following the hilly and mountainous landscape up or down. As soon as you exit a curve, you find that there is no straight road following, but rather immediately you find yourself starting to lean into the next curve. There is literally, not a single stretch of straight road! We are not talking about some rural backwater road here, but rather about the main “highway” traversing the entire country.

On top of that, due to the mountainous nature of the northwest and central parts of Guatemala, the road is constantly either ascending, or descending. If you combine the constant grading and curving, you get, in theory, motorcycle riding paradise. However, in practice you get gear shifting fatigue, after the constant shifting (every 10 or so seconds during several hours of riding) between 1st, 2nd and 3rd gear. And as soon as you get stuck behind a truck, you can easily go for 10 or more minutes, without a chance of overtaking; that’s how many sharp curves and grades the road has. As soon as you finally manage to overtake the truck, you only find yourself behind another overloaded truck that can barely move uphill in 1st or 2nd gear. Needless to say that, the long boring stretches of Montana highway, suddenly appear as something to long for.

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