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Published: November 21st 2009
We are now in Columbia after a rather quick passage through Central America to catch the German Sail Boat Stahlratte from Carti river in Panama to Cartagena (Columbia).
On reflection we really loved Mexico and spent more time there than we had anticipated - we loved the landscapes, towns and people we met and would love to return -perhaps to explore the coastal regions we missed!
Xilitla- difficult to find the road as no direct route - to our surprise ended up crossing the magnificent Sierra Gorda and Sierra Madre Oriental- amazing roads winding up and zig zagging up into the clouds. Xilitla is a beautiful little town perched on hilltop with central plaza and most streets going down the hillside . This is where Edward James created Las Pozas - tropical gardens full of run down but truly amazing structures, mosses growing on same, coloured paint wearing off- that blended in with the surrounding tropical landscape including a delightful waterfall with a number of purposefully and tastefully built bathing pools -some beautifully designed objects and structures including pathways.
Oaxaca in Southern Mexico-vibrant, colourful, colonial city -lots of wonderful arts and crafts- people around the city were preparing
for the celebration of Dia del Muerto - shops decorating their front entrances or windows with dressed up skeletons, people making arches and alters of bright yellow marigolds, some with offerings of fruit, street parades, music in the streets and plazas. Left Oaxaca via the stunning road that winded through the Sierra Negra and Sierra Sur. Due to heavy clouds and rain in the mountains abandoned the idea of San Cristobal and continued on to Tapachula -via the hot steamy lowlands 15 -30 kms from the coast with delightful Sierra Sur Mountains to the north. Tropical downpours in the late afternoons.
After falling in love with Mexico it was a rather disappointing border crossing and first day in Guatemala. In fact it was the worst day we had in a long time. The devils were in full swing- firstly had to return back from the border to sort out more paperwork, then we met a fellow Guatemalan motorbiker who claimed to be a person working at customs and totally ripped us off. We then found ourselves on a terribly rough Highway , 30 mins later we had a flat tire with two nails.- Johannes found a Pinchazo
who assisted him to plug the holes- by this time it was 4pm - we continued on our way and then the heavens opened up to torrential rain!! Stopped at service station for about ¾ hour waiting for rain to pass - by this stage it was starting to get dark -so took next hotel 10 km away at Coatepeque - we had only travelled 80 kms the whole day!!!!
Left early next day and drove via Lago Atitlan to the magical town Antigua - very cloudy day but stunning tropical mountain scenery especially as we cut across from highway 2 to highway 1 and passed a steaming volcano on the way up into the mountains. Also passed through a colourful Indian market at Solola and numerous mountain villages with locals dressed in brightly coloured tradtitional woven garments. On the way we were first stopped by police who asked us for a souvenir from Alaska! We began to think is this another aspect of corruption in Guatemala?
To top things off Johannes had an insect fly into his helmet whilst riding-then when he removed his helmet in Antigua his right eye and face were swollen and blown up -looked just
like a monster in time for Halloween celebrations . So we stayed one extra day in Antigua and had the opportunity to enjoy a full day cruising around looking at old ruins, churches and shops as we strolled down the old cobbled stone streets.
Love hotels have saved us on two occasions - once from a heavy downpour and secondly from driving into the night!! One was called the Taj Mahal with Arabic decorations.
The Copan Maya Ruins were impressive and delightful friendly people in the township . Really enjoyed the museum and ruins with sculptures and hieroglyphs and the lush tropical setting. Only spent a couple of days in Honduras but the lush mountainous, tropical landscapes were stunning and people were very accommodating despite their political unrest.
The city of Granada is all we really experienced- old world, old fashioned slow moving city with many old buildings almost falling down and in need of repair-met two old men who were promenading down the main street and spoke to us about old times!
Beautiful lush green tropical landscapes, more sophisticated & westernized than other Central American countries.
Quick trip through via Las Lajas- Rolling green hills to the west and mountains to the north-a flooded road- dirty -not as modern as we expected- corrupt border crossing and people not particularly welcoming. Then the Canal and that hotel with view of the canal and ships passing by… -!!!
Met fellow bikers from Argentina, Brasil, USA, Canada, Germany, Australia and drove SE to Darien Province with a crossing of the deep Carti river. The Indians loaded our bikes on canoes and delivered us to the Stahlratte - a German Sailing ship. This day was a real adventure.
Senor Ludwig, El Capitan and his 7 foot tall Austrian officer Roland (Rolli) were a pleasure to be with. Excellent food, the captain playing Spanish guitar and singing on some lonely island of the San Blas Archipelago… jumping into the blue see… some 5 days later we arrived in
The port city of Cartagena is a step back into the past. Founded in 1533 by the Spaniards it preserved much of its old town with cobbled streets, balconies with flowers, crazy Salsa, friendly and fun loving people.
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