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  1. #1
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Huehuetenango to Chichicastenango, in the heart of the Guatemalan Mts!

    We left Huehuetenango on a narrow dirt road for Sacapulas, about 35 miles away. These miles turned out to be some of the toughest riding of the trip, but certainly amongst the most scenic. There were some very steep climbs as we crept along the Chuchumantes Mountains, through small farming villages and corn fields. We wound our way through the pine trees and caught amazing views of the land all around us. The locals were friendly and encouraging, the few passing cars and trucks added layers of road dust to our bodies and bikes.
    When we reached Sacapulas, we were tired and sore. So far, we have yet to camp in Guatemala because the hotels have been so economical and after a day of cycling in the mountains, a bed and a shower sound oh so nice. We were aiming for the Sunday market at Chichicastenango, but we had some extra time to spend so we decided to stay an extra night in Sacapulas and take a side trip to the small mountain town of Nebaj. We caught a couple rides out to the town and caught some great views from high up of the surrounding mountains. We descended into Nebaj and after a short time in town trying to decide which hike to take, we were approached by the local guide, Gaspar. I am not normally into taking guided tours but I felt like I had something to learn, so we went for it. This tour turned out to be much more educational than scenic. Gaspar led us to a number of grave sites from Guatemalaís 36-year civil war which took a toll of more than 200,000 civilians, mostly indigenous men. He showed us the mass graves of some of the 10,000 from this area that perished during their fight with the military. Decaying wooden crosses were piled near the mass burials of the unidentified. Both his parents were killed in the 80ís and he fled to Mexico with more than 100,000 other refugees for some time before returning to make work as a guide. Much of the killing occurred in the 70ís and 80ís in the name of anti-communism and suppression of indigenous groups fighting for equality in a very unequal country. What is particularly interesting to me is that much of these atrocities and human rights violations happened under the leadership of a president who is currently running for re-election. After our tour we wandered around the town center and I snapped a few photos of the local women in their traditional colorful dress.
    We caught a ride back to Sacapulas and the next day we back on the bikes and on our way to Santa Cruz del Quiche. On the way out of town I started to wonder if today was even tougher than the ride to Sacapulas. We pushed ourselves uphill on the unforgiving mountains in the hot sun for about 20 miles before finally getting a break in the climbing. The only plus was the now paved road and of course the wonderful views. We spent the night in Quiche, the largest city since Huehuetenango and got some well needed rest in our cozy hotel. Though I didnít get much time to explore the town, I did get to savor the tasty and inexpensive fried chicken and French fries offered at one of the many stands located in the main plaza. After a night in Quiche, we made the short but challenging ride into Chichicastenango and treated ourselves to a nice hotel for the two nights we planned on staying. And here we are.
    Tomorrow is the famous indigenous market that brings vendors and tourists from all over. Wooden masks, embroidered cloths, and other clothing are amongst the many crafts offered. From my short time spent at the market 3 years ago, I remember a colorful and lively place. I look forward to more photo opportunities than good buys. The clouds have decided to open up on us here in the mountains so hopefully the spirit of the market will not be drowned out with the rain.

    Peace and Love,

    Dave
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  2. #2
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    First look at the Chuchumantes Mountain Range leaving Huehuetenango
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  3. #3
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Adrian rides uphill on the narrow dirt road. One of the only times he is behind me on an uphill!
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  4. #4
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Checking out a male turkey at a small ranch. They seem to live only for following around females and making a show.
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  5. #5
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Farmland and the Chuchumantes Mountains in the background
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  6. #6
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Narrow dirt road winds through the countryside
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  7. #7
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Corn fields and small villages dot the landscape
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  8. #8
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Sweet views for miles
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  9. #9
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Wonderful mountain views from up high
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  10. #10
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Road construction on the unpaved road stops traffic but not bicycles!
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  11. #11
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    A packed bus on the windy ride to Nebaj
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  12. #12
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Nebaj cemetery
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  13. #13
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Crosses of the unknown dead. Candles and incense burn in rememberance
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  14. #14
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Indigenous women at the Nebaj market
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  15. #15
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Market produce: Dried chilies, platanos, sugar, carrots, and more.
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  16. #16
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    A view of Nebaj from up high
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  17. #17
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    A view of mountains on the way back to Sacapulas from Nebaj
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  18. #18
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Dave holds on for his life on the shaky truck ride down to Sacapulas
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  19. #19
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    A view of Sacapulas and the Rio Blanco Valley
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  20. #20
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    A view from high up riding out of Sacapulas towards Santa Cruz del Quiche
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  21. #21
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    A wet, cold, and malnourished dog waits out the rain at the door of this small restaurant in San Pedro Jocopilas
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  22. #22
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    I donít think I could have gotten this photo if I hadnít just bought a hat, Chichicastenango
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  23. #23
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    Originally posted by Dwagenheim
    They seem to live only for following around females and making a show.
    I suspect that's true of a lot of us, when you get right down to it.

  24. #24
    In Banff, AB Dwagenheim's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Big Helmet
    I suspect that's true of a lot of us, when you get right down to it.
    I set em up, you knock em down.
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