After another great Saturday BBQ at the Iguana, I was invited by Simon and Kirsi to stay at their place. I gladly accepted and had a great time hanging out with the couple, swimming, cooking, jewelry making, philosophy talking, watching amazing underwater documentaries, or just simply enjoying the view of the lake and the volcanoes. Simon was eager to use my camera to capture some of the great stuff he has been living around for a year. He took some great photos and we had lots of fun checking them experimenting with different effects. One morning we took a boat and a pickup uphill from Panajachel to Solola for their big market day. There were very few tourists as this is more of a local market. There was lots of fruits and veggies, pungent dried fish, colorful textiles and home tools, but the most amazing was being amongst so many indigenous locals in their Ďtrajeí, which means dress or garb; men in their colorful shorts and vests, women in their patterned and stitched dresses and shirts. Another cool moment was when Simon taught an animal balloon maker how to make another animal. Later, we saw little kids walking through the park with the new addition. Time passed and my ďplansĒ to leave the lake were postponed. I started to realize it was this beautiful place that had inspired a whole bunch of creativity within me. This is a place I can spend some time.
It was hard enough leaving the lake, but the intense mountain cycling on the ride out of Panajachel (after being off the bike for 3 weeks, hanging around the lake, eating lots of good food and coating the lungs with ganja smoke with regularity) was outright painful!
I had a great French toast breakfast with Simon and Kirsi before saying goodbye. It was very tempting to hang out in Santa Cruz for another week, but I felt I had to get moving and check out the scene in Antigua. I packed up my things and put them on the boat and rode across the choppy lake to Panajachel. As I looked around, I saw the whole lake surrounded by dark clouds. All signs were telling me I was going to get wet today. I started riding the gradual incline away from Pana and away from the lake. I started getting rained on lightly but that was not really a concern. Why does my bike feel like its 50% heavier than normal? Man, my legs are out of shape! But my determination carried me over many steep climbs that day. Luckily the rain was pretty light. The mountain views were wonderful and even though for most of the 40 miles I was going uphill, the roads were pretty empty, that is until I got onto the Interamerican Highway and started sweating it out as the black diesel smoke spewing chicken buses and trucks closely sped by. I was wet and cold. I had been staying around 7000 ft elevation since leveling out after the tough climbing earlier. The air is kind of cool up in the mountains! Anyway, my primary concern was getting to Chimaltenango before dark. I knew Antigua was too far away to get to before dark. Plus I didnít want to totally shred my legs. I rode into Chimaltenango, a big busy city until things start to close down around 7pm. I didnít get to explore much of the town in the daylight, but after getting settled into my cheap ní nice hotel (which by the way cost me $2.50!), I checked out the evening food vendors and other evening walkers. There were taco, fried chicken, and hot dog stands spread out around the outside of the central park and scattered in between them were women sitting or standing with baskets full of empanadas and assorted stuffed tortillas. Some had such a sad or bored look on their face. I felt fortunate to be on the other side tonight. I also met a couple strange characters. While eating, I was being shot sweet looks from a scrubby looking old man with a few teeth. Then while trying to get a few words in the journal, another crazy local who spoke English was spying over my shoulder reading it to me. When I talked to him about it he got confrontational. Not that I minded listening, but the food particles flying out of his mouth at me were a bit much. I had a good nights rest after a smoke and writing session on the computer and prepared to make the final 10 or so miles to Antigua the next day, hoping my legs wouldnít be crying too much on the way.
The ride from Chimaltenango to Antigua was smooth and sunny. I pointed the bike towards the big volcano and rode mostly downhill on a nice sunny morning. I arrived in Antigua after about an easy hour and met up with Adrian after his Spanish class. I have no idea how long our stay here will be but we got some cool things planned.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the pictures!