November 28-30: from Chiapas to Guatemala

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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).

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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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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