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Day Eight: San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico – Antigua, Guatemala

Submitted by on Thursday, 19 February 2009No Comment

Day Eight
San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico – Antigua, Guatemala
269 miles

After scouting for a breakfast place we ended up eating right across the hostel. The restaurant had a gorgeous courtyard with many trees and flowers.
I managed to get lost getting out of the city. Yep, I found the main street but it was a fork. I took the right but looking at my GPS it was clear I needed to go to the opposite direction.
What started off as an awesome day of riding, turned in to the most demanding day of motorcycling ever. The roads were incredible with a lot of turns and switchbacks. Simply amazing!
All of the sudden the traffic came to a stand still and all the trucks in front and behind turned their engines off. We did the same and waited wondering what was happening. Only a few vehicles were passing in the opposite directions.
About fifteen minutes later a motorcycle passed us all on the wrong side of the road and drove out of sight. I looked at my friend and we decided to do the same thing.  At every blind turn the truckers signaled me to stop or go.
The road was under repair and no vehicles were passing on either side. The heavy winter took its toll and destroyed most of the highway with landslides. The road was being repaired and between the worker’s rests they allowed cars to pass by.
A big barrier was now blocking the crappy road but the guard looking at our bikes let us pass. I thought: cool, we can handle this dirt road no problem which we did.
It was not all though. A cold front came in and brought with it fog so thick I couldn’t see two feet in front of me. The day became instant night although it wasn’t that late.
Now we had unknown dirt roads, fog and traffic to deal with. This lasted about three hours and we only moved maybe twenty miles. It was absolutely demanding both mentally and physically.
There was a large detour sign on the road that I noticed at the last minute I made a sharp turn and my left pannier snapped the sign in half throwing it up on the air, wounding my box with a nice red mark like it had bled.
At some point I even felt like an acrobat in a circus when we were riding on the only asphalted part of the road which was the dividing yellow line about twelve inches wide.
I tired and I couldn’t focus on the road so I set my GPS to help find Antigua. Unfortunately the GPS world map is not very accurate. The darkness of the road didn’t help me either. We got to a T-intersection in pitch black and not a soul in sight. I made a turn to the south.
I could see Antigua getting close on the GPS but nowhere to turn. Somehow I managed to pass the intersection. The miles kept adding up when I finally saw a group of young people to ask for directions.
They just told me to turn back and on the first alley make a right. I did this but it didn’t look like a regular road. I was frustrated and tired but kept going.
A farmer walking by assured me I was on the right way. This was not a vehicle road though; it was a horse’s trail. When we got to the end I could see four concrete pillars with about enough space in between to pass the bikes.
I didn’t care and I went for it. I gave the bike gas and my bike passed with brute force scrapping one of my panniers and knocking it out of the locks. Finally, I could see a highway and traffic and I knew I was on the right way.
My friend noticed how tight the pillars were so he drove slowly trying to make it and stopped in between. Because it was uphill, his rear tire started to dig out and didn’t make it.
I looked back but because it was so dark, I didn’t know what he was doing. He looked still with no movement. He had to get off the bike move it back and use speed to go through it knocking one of his panniers as well.
We had ridden about 10 hours in bad conditions when finally got to Antigua totally exhausted.
The “Black Cat Hostel” was the place I had marked. They didn’t have a parking space. I was too tired to look for something else. The manager told us he could move some tables up front but the bikes were too wide and they could not fit, but we could leave them outside the building parked on the street.
Lloyd still had his paranoia about getting his bike stolen and he got irritable in addition to the long day of riding. The place had a great atmosphere and we sat down to eat an awesome meal.
There were a lot of foreigners speaking English. This allowed Lloyd to chill and he talked about our adventures to backpackers on the hostel. We ordered drinks and enjoyed the company of people from Sweden, New Zealand, Australia and others while listening to “Home Sweet Alabama” and “Born to be Wild”.
The evening had just started for me. Lloyd went to bed about ten and I ended up walking around the city and partying at a local bar while sipping vodka and orange juice.

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