November 28-30: from Chiapas to Guatemala


Harry and I enjoyed our last evening on the campground in San Cristobal de las Casas with mate and a warming fire — the night was once again cold and clear.



Before taking off on November 29, we went for a walk and stumbled upon this mother with her young children washing clothes in the nearby creek.



After two hours of driving east toward the border with Guatemala, we found the road blocked by a teachers’ union. It was mid-day and we were told that the demonstration would continue until at least 3PM — too late in the day to cross into Guatemala and reach a safe spot for the night.



A fellow traveler heard from a bus operator that there was a backcountry rat run, but he was also warned that local residents might take advantage of the situation. He was right: a dozen lads had cordoned off the path and demanded MXP20 (USD1.25) from each driver. The whole setup was a bit dodgy and I had my bear spray at the ready, but we passed without incident.



It then took us two hours to get to Comitan, the city we would have reached within ten minutes on the main road — if the latter had not been blocked.



Crossing the border took another two and a half hours, but it should be noted that most of that time was spent on the Mexican side waiting for a passport stamp and for our temporary vehicle import sticker to be removed. The process on the Guatemalan side was much quicker and, I hasten to add, also much friendlier.



In Guatemala we continued on the CA-1, also known as the Panamericana! Sometimes consisting of two paved lanes and sometimes merely a pothole-ridden gravel road, it took us through lush valleys at altitudes between 6,000 and 9,700 ft (1.830-2.960m).



In my view Guatemala could also be called “classic Toyotaland.” Never before have I seen so many Tacoma and Hilux pick-ups from the 1980s than in the country’s western Huehuetenango Department.



Some folks managed to travel more comfortably, such as this fellow on the couch (who probably slept the whole way). Note [upper right] the remarkably cheap gas price: GTQ18.49 (approx. USD2.50) per gallon.



We spent the night on the parking lot of a hotel listed on iOverlander, a user-driven website for folks road-tripping the Americas.



On November 30 we passed Lago Atitlan (visible in the background) on our way to Guatemala City.



We also spotted this colossal U.S. American turkey which, we presume, had recently applied for refugee status in Guatemala.



Pacaya Volcano, one of four active volcanoes in Guatemala, greeted us from a distance as we were approaching the capital.



We arrived at our hotel in zona 10 exhausted but content. Harry will guard la bestia while I enjoy a night in a warm hotel bed. Hopefully, tomorrow will bring some clarity as far as the planned container shipment is concerned.


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