17 July 2011

A wrong turn leads to a month off the bike...

Location: Rio Dulce, Guatemala
Days off the bike: more than 31
50ft Catamarans hauled onto dry land under human power: 1
Next mission: Make it to Panama!

When I left Coban, the plan was to head to El Salvador and points south, but I tried to take a backroad shortcut.  When you don't have a map, and it is overcast, and all the roads curve around, you start to imagine you are going south, when really you are going north.  After a 2000 meter descent into a river valley, the natural decision is to forge onward in a new direction instead of backtracking.  I HATE backtracking, even when Lonely Planet warns me the road I am on is notorious for highway robbery.  Well, I doubt Lonely Planet writers got robbed.  If I avoided every place people warned me about, well I would still be living at home.  Generally, the people warn you about the next place you are going, or the place you just came from.  A few days later, I rolled into Rio Dulce, an inland town accessible from the Caribbean via a crook in central america's arm. Captain Biff picked me up in his lancha (runabout) and the next month blurred by with preparations to haul the boat out interspersed with side trips.

Biff has a big catamaran and wants to haul it out for some work.  He posts online that he is looking for some help in exchange for food, lodging, and a relaxed, positive atmosphere.  It was a great break from cycling-- a chance to use my hands for something other than steering.

Pictures are somewhat out of chronological order as some are from other's cameras.

Epasote, a spice essential for Mexican cuisine, grows wild sometimes.  A delicious treat for  the rice.

In Guatemala, Series Land Rovers still lurk.

Tatanka gets back into the jungle for some camping

The tent blends in well...

can you see it?  it is less than 20 feet away.

Canada Dry not sold here.

In Purulha, some piglets were for sale but kept escaping.   I helped wrangle them.

I was the only one laughing at the "Bag of Pigs" fiasco.

cute piglets.  they squealed and squealed as they ran through the streets!

So, I turned down this irresistible road for a tour of coffee country.

how could you resist this compared to the main highway?

it wound around the mountains before dropping all the way down to sea level.

I thought I was going south.  But this is a view to the North.

This map was not helpful either.

the next few days, i followed the river valley on this wide potholed road out towards the caribbean coast.  not exactly el salvador...

but the riding was pleasant, save the occasional dust.

the mountain tops remained obscured by clouds.

bike and tree.

not the only one with a machete up front.  these 4 had clearly never been warned about moving fast with sharp objects.

you can buy graham crackers that come with marshmallows nd a little packet of red syrup.  it took me back to the days of oatmeal swirlers.  anyone?

bikes and trees.

i do enjoy rolling into dusty no-name towns.

gravel increased as apparently there is pavement coming through in the next few years.

old school suspension bridge reminded me of oregon.

right.  anything at 150m?

i did some background research on Captain Biff while watching the cyber iguana on patrol.

el estor gets its name from once having a Store.  Any word that starts with an S in Spanish needs an E sound first.  Scott is known as Escott, for example.

The army here runs US surplus deuce and a halfs.

build your own slip rolls using transmission gears!

stick built homes are quite popular here.

parasitic tree encapsulates a living palm tree.

big scorpions are around...

you have probably eaten a banana grown in this plantation.

pavement kickedd in and it was a rolly ride on out to rio dulce.

Biff picked me up in town and we cruised out to the boat.  The old familiar lake smell reminded me of home.

The next day, the whole haul-out crew (Kate, Biff, Karima) headed down to Livingston for Karima's (right) birthday.

it was nice.  good barefooting water.

Biff knows how to keep me happy.  Lots of food.  If you have never tried a banana pancake with hershey's syrup and lime juice, you are missing out.

when it is hot here, the men roll up their shirts and rub their bellies.

we stopped at a woman's house who glues stuff to bones.

Karima walks on water.

The local dish involves cooking entire sea creatures in coconut juice.  it is good, but energy intensive.

a few more travelers showed up for a road trip to Tikal and some visa renewals.

Biff is 44 and does backflips off his yacht he built himself.  i suppose if this was me at 44, i would be ok with that.

i met a parrot at a lunch stop.  he said hello and then bit the fence.

what's your fantasy?

the daily sunrise onboard Poco A Poco

At the lunch stop, I joined a pickup soccer game.

Lots of lakes to jump into here in Guatemala.

Since I needed work clothes for the project, I picked up this little number in town.  Biff banned me from wearing it in the sight of others.

When we first arrived at Punta Caimanes, the haulout spot, there was a creek that required wading in a bikini with a machete.  Why Biff thought we needed a raft, I don't understand.

The ants were always mopping up our spills...

I began work welding up a frame for the raft, that is expected to get several years of hard use with little maintenance.

One morning, we kayaked through some greenery to see some howler monkeys.  mostly, there were mosquitoes, so we left.

North Carolina.

Scott and Abby cruise through the trees.

Kayaking on Rio Dulce

After paddling all morning, some of us hitched a ride home.

Biff, paddling Rio Dulce

The coconuts were deadly, so we harvested them and made pina coladas.

Los Chingones, out fishing.  I love it!

Some people shimmy up the tree.  Biff bolts a hacksaw to a board and climbs the roof.

Little Miss Sunburn

We finally got underway to head to the haul out spot on Lago Izabal.

Single rainbows are not as intense as doubles.

We unloaded supplies.  The parking spot is visible on the left.

Poco A Poco on anchor at Punta Caimanes, Guatemala.

The nightly lightning show is not to be missed during rainy season.

Kate says somebody's gotta remove barnacles from the hull!

Hurricane Ditka came through and trashed our shade trees!  Scott went on machete duty.

Mahindra 4x4 quad cab turbo diesel.  

The banyo girl is not making a banyo face.

After scraping off barnacles for several days, quite a few fish gathered around, and closely watched everything we did underwater.  Here, we are removing the propellers.

Obviously, you can tie 2-liter bottles to deck chairs to make float chairs.

Biff chats with a boy with his own cayuco while trying out the flaot chair.

Float chair sunset booze cruise on Lago Izabal.

Ah yes, a drink in my hand and a float chair.  Reminds me of Mom.  Except I have never seen mom drink rum.

The floating, rolling barrel raft became known as Bedonkatron.

Scouting a good jump spot by the hot-springs waterfall.

probing for a landing spot at Finca Paraiso

Karima and Abby show proper technique

my new blog title will be: pics of me jumping off stuff

Bedonkatron seats 6 easily for bikini-less creek crossings.

Elmer hauls out the yacht with one finger!

Bedonkatron and Tatanka, BFFs

Then you just roll the raft out of the water.

I spotted this heavy duty tow hitch on a Jetta.

The marina at Livingston, Guatemala.

Gloria made that pool clear again.  She only wears her teeth on Sundays.

Doorways in Livingston were my height.

strolling the streets of Livingston...

what's over there?

bike and tree (Photo: Biff)

Girl and cinnamon roll (Photo Biff)



I took on this tough player...
she totally juked me.

cyclist in Flores, Guatemala

Tikal is still under construction, 1000 years later

there are endless nooks and crannies to explore.

capture the flag at Tikal?  it would be awesome.  Our guide did not appreciate the idea of paintball.

slaves.  they had slaves.  they were not "enlightened"

Tikal is a big site.  The American tourists usually tucker out by noon and the afternoons yield a deserted ruinscape

Danilo, our guide, was a total yay-hoo, but he gave us enough smart-ass fodder for the next month in a matter of hours.  His best line: "I will answer your question with silence"

lots of places to peer inside and look for treasure.

what they are prohibiting here is a bit vague.

Here, 1300 year old wooden beams are still in place.  Chico Zapote is now an endangered wood, but can still be bought from any man with a truck and a chainsaw.

We stopped at El Remate for some camping and swimming.  The fish eat your spit.

I slept on the dock.

Irene and I had races to see whose spit was eaten fastest.

I was asleep onboard.  (photo Biff)

Lightning over Poco A Poco (Photo Biff)

The Tikal crew with ChocoVango (Photo Biff)

Storm over Poco A Poco (Photo Biff)

Sunrise storm at La Vacadia (Photo Biff)

Cruising down the river

Oh to have a big boat and a padded wetsuit.  barefoot water!  (Photo Kate West)

For sale 
(Photo Kate West)

The safe sex billboard has a mayan dude wearing a condom.  not funny. (Photo Kate West)

Boat have good names around here 
(Photo Kate West)
Dip bananas in chocolate and freeze them.  12 cents each. (Photo Kate West)

Garifuna means you know the words to all of Bob Marley's songs and live on the coast between Belize and Honduras.  And your dishes feature seafood and coconut (Photo Kate West)

The unhappy man at the happy corner. (Photo Kate West)

Zucely and Beyonce (Photo Kate West)

Stopping for some spring water from the cliff face (Photo Kate West)

bag nest (Photo Kate West)

Bag nests in a Ceiba tree (Photo Kate West)

The best racer you are from now on! (Photo Kate West)

Giants trample Tikal! (Photo Kate West)

The Mayans called the Ceiba tree the axle of the world.  I think it'd be great for a tree house. (Photo Kate West)

Gummy pyramids! (Photo Kate West)

the glades of the lost world (Photo Kate West)

The jungle reclaims all... (Photo Kate West)

The twin pyramids (Photo Kate West)

We spotted this toad (Photo Kate West)

He blends in so well! (Photo Kate West)

ChocoVango in effect at El Remate (Photo Kate West)

Duh, they mean no bottleS of glass! (Photo Kate West)

And then the horses came. (Photo Kate West)

Iron horse and meat horse (Photo Kate West)  can you tell my battery died? I had to use everyone else´s pictures!

looking for treasure (Photo Kate West)

Did you ever notice how your eyes get big when you sip coconut water?  (Photo Kate West)

Orinar: to urinate.  (Photo Kate West)

Tht's spanish for Boom Boom Boat (Photo Kate West)

(Biff stops for some oilpan tightening. (Photo Kate West)

Shovels are great for leaning.  I'd make a great supervisor (Photo Biff)

welding the frame of Bedonkatron (Photo Kate West)

Dawn patrol (Photo Kate West)

pulling up to the dock for breakfast (Photo Kate West)

Paddling through the Mosquito forest (Photo Kate West)

while the welder was cooling down, i would mess around in the shop and made everyone some classy jewelry.  here is a rare Torxstone piece valued at 8 million dollars.

sparks feel good on the skin (Photo Kate West)

welding axles into Bedonk'y wheels (Photo Kate West)

Trying out the rollers before finishing up the welding.

Yum, banana-peach-baby smoothie (Photo Kate West)

pancake breakfast with the ladies (Photo Biff)

somebody has to lay up the fiberglass! (Photo Biff)

When I arrived, I was still on a cyclists appetite (Photo Biff)


This guy came around our camp (photo Biff)

wild turkey! (photo Biff)

The common bored gringo.  (Photo Biff)

(Photo Karima)

Remember wearing shirts like this? (Photo Karima)

inspecting a mayan cellar  Borrrrrring!

Biff feeds the fishies

Kate before working on Poco a Poco

Kate after working on Poco a Poco!

me=  same as ever.

I pulled a jerk move and shoved Julissa in the water.  She was afraid to jump.

she landed on her face.  i felt horrible. sorry Julissa!

yum.  beans from the can.

Next post will be:  How to haul a 50 foot catamaran out of the water under human power...  onwards to Honduras.


Post a Comment