Note: I’m a week behind on the blog, so in an effort to catch up here’s a double update. Two for the price of one!
I’d spent almost a month in Mexico, so it was time to move on towards Guatemala.
I packed up and headed down the mountains from San Cristobal to Comitan. It was the last large town in Mexico and I wanted to work on a couple of small problems with the bike before heading into Guatemala.
First order of business was to fix the power outlet for the GPS, which had failed months ago. Up to now, I’d been confident enough in my navigational abilities to not depend on the GPS. But, from studying the map, Guatemala looked to be much more densely populated than Mexico, and therefore had much more roads. I needed to figure out what was wrong with the power outlet ASAP in order to have GPS.
After a quick inspection of the wiring I discovered it was nothing more than a blown fuse. A shopping expedition ensued but the only fuse I could find for sale was of a slightly higher amperage than was specified. Now I haven’t a clue about electronics, so I skyped my father the Mechanical Engineer to confirm nothing would explode if I changed out the fuse for the higher amp one. Jimmy said it wasn’t a problem so with that I changed out the fuse and resolved the issue.
Once that was fixed I needed to replace my biking gloves which had worn out and would offer no protection in the event of a fall. That search was fruitless so I had to improvise. I bought a pair of cycling gloves and then a larger pair of leather workman gloves I could fit over them. I think the solution should work ok until I find a pair of proper motorcyclist gloves.
With that I could do a little bit of tourism in Comitan. Its much more low-key than San Cristobal but nice enough to walk around for a while. The streets are very, very hilly so I got plenty of exercise.
I met up with a local couple, Ana & Aurel through www.couchsurfing.org and they took me around to see the sights. I would have missed most of the sights if hadn’t been for their local knowledge, so Thanks!
Lagos De Colon & A Visit To Some Ruins
Not long after leaving Comitan, a quick descent brought me back to the lowlands. After coming off the plateau the road wound down from the hills through a series of switchback curves. I was back in the hot zone again. The change in temperature was not gradual as I expected, but shot up in the space of a few hundred meters after coming down from the pass.
Shortly after this an excited minibus came up behind me flashing his headlights and signaling at me. Just another lunatic bus driver I thought to myself and slowed down to let him pass. However he stayed behind me all the while gesturing wildly. Paranoid, I pulled into a gas station in case this was some sort of ambush. He followed me in. It turns out that the driver had lived near me in Annapolis, Maryland and saw the Maryland plates on the bike. We had a good chat about life in the states and my journey. Meanwhile his passengers sat stewing in the van in the sweltering heat while we shot the breeze!
I stopped for the night in the village of Lagos De Colon, about fifteen miles form the border with Guatemala. I wanted to cross the border as early as possible the following day and could have stayed at the border itself but didn’t want to spend the night in a sketchy border town. Lagos De Colon seemed the better option.
Lagos De Colon is located in beautiful farmland dotted with lakes. Indeed it seemed there was more lakes than land. The village was surrounded by lakes and to get into the village itself you need to drive through a stream crossing the road. It was my first serious water crossing of the trip so I was a little nervous. However experience has taught me that if the terrain looks difficult, then momentum is your friend so I charged across at the shallowest section with no problems. Someday I’m sure this logic will get me in trouble, but not today!
The big attraction apart from the lakes are the pre-Colombian ruins of Lagartero. The lady at the hotel (seven dollars the night – cheapest yet), said the ruins were three kilometers away, so I decided to go on the bike after unpacking. What she failed to mention was that the road is closed to vehicle traffic after five hundred meters so I abandoned the bike and hoofed it the rest of the way.
To get to the ruins you go through a beautiful cornfield that looked more like rural Maryland than Southern Mexico.
From there the path took me into the woods and across a number of shaky one plank bridges.
There must have been about half a dozen bridges, each successive one being trickier to cross, like levels in a computer game. Bear in mind I was still wearing all my motorbike gear (I couldn’t leave it with the bike and expect it to be there when I got back), so I was panting and wheezing like crazy at this point, and probably sweating off a few pounds.
Finally, through the trees and across the lagoon, a pyramid loomed in the distance.
As ruins go, these were modest. There were three pyramids around a courtyard area. I don’t know their history or purpose but its clear the complex was built in a very easily defensible location surrounded by lakes.
So, having got my dose of culture for the day I hiked back to the bike, rode the five hundred meters to the village and enjoyed a well deserved (If I say so myself) beer after my exertions. Then back to the hotel and an early night before crossing the border the following day. Adios Mexico! It’s been great and I hope to come back soon.