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Published: February 13th 2012
This was quite a common sight on the trails.
Entry by Dave:
I decided to check out the Cuchumatane Mountains for myself by taking a guided hike from Nebaj to Todos Santos Cuchumatan. The route is about 40 kms or so and almost entirely above 2500 metres.
I enjoyed the hike very much, even though the rain persisted for a decent chunk of the time. The scenery was varied as we walked along small dirt roads and trails through farmland, small villages, dense cloudforest and desolate plateaus. We slept and ate at local Ixil family homes along the way, and played games and shared stories with the many kids that lived in these houses.
The photos will tell the story of the walk, which I thoroughly enjoyed, but I would like to share a story of what happened afterwards!
After eating a late lunch in Todos Santos, the guide (Nicholas) and I said goodbye to the group and headed back to Nebaj using public transport... However, because of the rain, the buses weren´t leaving town because the steep dirt road was too slippery and dangerous. This led Nicholas and I to make the decision to hitch a ride with any 4 x 4
that was heading that way. After a few minutes we jumped in the back of a Toyota pick-up with 4 others and headed up the 10,000 ft high pass out of Todos Santos. We had only been on the move for a couple of minutes when the heavens opened, my bag was under a pile of baskets with people on top so I didn´t have time to get my rainjacket, and even if I did have time it would have been near impossible to get it anyway because we were hanging on for our lives as the driver charged up the hill - nobody else had jackets on either so we all got soaked to the bones. About half way up, on a rather steep section the Toyota came to a hault as its wheels spun-up the dirt. We all had to get out and push in the rain to get it going... Once we got it going the driver continued up the hill until there was a flat section - where he waited for us. The six of us walked up the hill for about an hour in the rain, hail then snow. We were all soaked and chilled
The Cloud Forest
Most of the second day of hiking was in the rain and clouds at 3000 metres above sea level.
to the bones... We then had to drive up even further and the same thing happened again although this time we didn´t need to walk as far... All in all it took us about three hours to get up the hill, whilst sweating and shivering at the same time. The rain did not let off as we sat freezing our butts off on the long one hour drive back down the other side to the town of Huehuetenango, and I´m sure we all looked like Swiss Army Knives with our pathetic limbs sprawled in all directions, desperately trying to cling onto anything we could grab, so that we wouldn´t be launched into the surrounding hillsides... Our semi-hypothermic corpses stumbled off the back of the pick-up at a Shell station and we all grumbled with chattering teeth in a cacophony of languages. Nicholas and I then walked (in the rain) to the other end of town to catch a microbus to Nebaj, the whole walk was in the dark, through mud and we were both shivering and freezing. We managed to grab a bus but it was severely overcrowded and we had to hold on to the outside for the first
five minutes - this cooled us down even more - I could barely feel my fingers at this time. After a few people got off we managed to get inside but we didn´t get a seat right away. I was standing bent over a young lady dripping smelly, sweaty, dirty water onto her - she seemed a little unpleased, she mumbled something in Spanish - I just mumbled back. Meanwhile, Nicholas was sandwiched and squashed up against the door. We did eventually get to sit for a part of the journey to Sacapulas, where we had to change buses again. At least it wasn´t raining there but we did have to stand out in the cold for quite a while... When we arrived back in Nebaj we were still cold, wet and numb - I said adios to Nicholas, then headed swiftly to the hotel where Theresa was staying, and jumped into what I wanted to be a hot shower... The hotel only had hot water in the mornings - that was just the icing (ice-ing) on the cake for the evening...
I did laugh a couple of times during the journey back though. One of the guys in
We passed through many small mountain settlements on our hike. I can't remember the names of any of them.
the pick-up was wearing sweater which had a picture of ¨Eeyore¨ (the ever-glum, pessimistic donkey from Winnie-the-Pooh) looking into a puddle, with the caption, in English, ¨Rainy days are times for reflection¨. Not surprisingly, I thought differently about rainy days at this point, and shared the same pessimistic outlook on life as Eeyore! The other laugh I had was at the outhouses in Huehuetenango. They were nasty, dirty and smelly and I won't even begin to describe what the seat looked like (or rather - what was on it). That wasn´t what I laughed at - it was at the two little girls renting clean toilet seats for 1 quetzal per use... Other than those two incidents there was very little humour in the journey from Todos Santos to Nebaj...
I do vaguely recall the cold shower incident earning a wee giggle from me too, even though it held very little value in the way of amusement... But it is quite funny now though...!?
Estuvimos mojados (we were wet)...
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