We left Antigua de Guatemala early this morning, and ended up in Esquipulas, another gorgeous colonial town which is right on the frontier (border) with Honduras.
After talking to many people, ex-pats, touristas, and locals, we decided discretion was the better part of valour and it was prudent to avoid El Salvador altogether. Hence, we found ourselves winding our way north and south to make headway east. Also, unfortunately, we could not avoid Guatemala City….where we got lost for a bit (about a half an hour, including a navigation stop). The roads on the way in were well marked, but the signs petered out on the east side of town, along with the freeway (we needed to go South to North to pick up the road we needed…there is no ring highway, alas).
However, with our trusty Garmin hand-held GPS, which does NOT have street level maps, but does know where exactly the hell you are at all times, we were able to wind our way through the (crazy) city streets….to an insane intersection where we knew we were on the right track. Don’t even think about driving in Central America without a good GPS. Maps are fine, but the GPS has saved our butts on numerous occasions before (in CR). Today was as low stress as being lost in a foreign country could possibly be, thanks to our handy little GPS. Plus, the Iguana Man knows how to drive like an expert in the mucho macho insanity. Life is good.
The roads in Guatemala were terrific in comparison to the first 100 km in-country. No worries on that count. Antigua de Guatemala is in a volcanic region…rather a jungle. Getting past Guatemala City, the terrain became much more like the high mountain desert in Mexico. After a few hours on mountain roads, the road (CA9) straightened out, running along a river valley, all the way to Puerto Barristos on the Carribean. We left that road (and most of the big truck traffic) thankfully, about 2:00 p.m. Headed back south, again through mountainous terrain, toward the Honduras border.
There is just no good way to get to there from here. Once you accept that fact…and enjoy the very scenic scenery, life is good. As we winded our way to the south, the country did not seem to be so poverty stricken. In fact, we saw some beautiful estancias.
Incredibly, once we left Guatemala City, there seemed to be some sort of Guatemalan cycling confab….we passed hundreds of cyclists, in twos and threes, slogging up and down the mountains! Loco. As we made our approach to our destination for today (Esquipulas)….there were numerous signs for hotels (finding hotels is somewhat of an art usually…but that is for another post)….including one that at first glance I thought said “internet gratis”. Well, upon second sighting of said sign, it did in fact say “Hotel de la Fe” with free internet. And as we made the final turn into town (this is a large town)…it was on about the second block into (insane) traffic (Easter Week again) and conveniently located on the correct side of the road. So we pulled over, and lo and behold, they even had underground (and secure) parking.
So….all is grand. It’s about time to go walkabout and find some food and a farmacia to replenish our Immodium (’nuff said!). I’ll log back in later and post some pictures….and if I get ambitious, start a new Guatemala photo page.
~ Blonde Gator