Friday, October 16, 2009

In Hot Water

September 10th to........

A new road is being built heading west along the north shore of Lake Itzabal. 25 miles or so along it is the jungle waterfall 'Aguas Calientes' or 'Hot Waters'. It's a perfect day for riding through the green, though we head out early to beat the intense heat....

It doesn't take us long to find the end of the asphalt and catch up with the construction crew....

All the roads we have ridden in Mexico and Guatemala that are being built or maintained remain resolutely open. Unlike England where they are often closed or coned off, here it's business as usual and you just weave in and out of the heavy equipment, keeping an eye out for the swinging booms of the earth movers.... health and safety is done differently here.

After 20 hot and dusty miles, we reach a cross roads and a track that heads down to the lake and another little slice of paradise. We rent a lake front cabin and take a swim to cool off and wash away the dust and sweat from the road....

Just over the other side of the main road is another track leading to a river hike to the waterfall and we set out early the next day....

This is what we came for. Above the river is a geothermal spring where the water emerges, bubbling up between the dense undergrowth before cascading 12m (40ft) down a rock face. Heavily mineralised, it has turned the formerly black rock to a rich beige colour over the slow millennia. At it's source the stream is almost too hot to touch, but by the time it flows into the river below it is just comfortably hot. It's an amazing feeling to be swimming in a cold river and to be pelted by a hot shower from above....

There are rock ledges you can perch on and tiny caves to sit in and be pummeled from above. It's like a hot water back massage - one of those high pressure sprays you find in expensive spa hotels. Here's it's absolutely free and the natural setting blows any spa hotel away, however much you pay. We slowly cook like lobsters in the heat, before returning to the river to cool off. It's a bizarre feeling to be in hot and cold water at the same time and we stay long enough to turn pink and wrinkly.

Riding back towards Rio Dulce there are ominous portents on the road as carrion birds line up in formation...

And shortly afterwards the road falls to pieces....

In Rio Dulce, we buy tickets for a coach ride back to Antigua. Sue's elderly father has not been well recently and she has been feeling increasingly guilty on the tour at being away and misses him terribly. Her mother and sister have been ceaseless in their care for him but it is becoming more and more difficult for them and she is keen to help out. She has decided to return home early to see him and has booked a flight out of Guatemala City. We take a bus back to nearby Antigua where we have friends who can store her bike.

I will be going home to see her and family as well, but first I am returning to San Pedro, before going to visit my brother and his family in America.

Unfortunately this does mean that this tour is coming to an end, but it is becoming an ongoing story written in chapters. This is the end of chapter 2 and chapter 3 will begin in January when Sue and I plan to return to Guatemala, reunite with our bicis and carry on the adventure for hopefully another 12 months. We intend to carry on riding south through the rest of Central America and on into South America at least as far as Lake Titicaca where I ended Chapter One some 14 months ago. This completes the chain for me all the way from Vancouver to Ushuaia at the Southern tip of Argentina.

Plans never go totally smoothly though as demonstrated by a tyre blowout on the coach ride back, solved here not by an Automobile Association style rescue, but by limping along on the shredded tyre to a roadside repair station where they replace the damaged rubber with their least worn replacement from the pile.....

Sue, ever relaxed in these situations finds time for a little snooze and misses all the excitement....

After hitting a traffic queue and waiting 3 hours for an accident to be cleared, we miss our connecting bus in Guatemala City and are resigning ourself to a night there when the office manager of the bus station personally offers to drive us on a private shuttle bus. It's a 3 hour round trip going out of his way to help us and he won't get back until well after midnight, so big, big thanks to him.

Plans often go awry and we may or may not be heading to Titicaca in January, but in life something generally crops up to surprise you at the last minute and we will have to wait and see.

I may write more on this blog occasionally between now and the next time we ride out in January, so please check for updates.

Otherwise many thanks for traveling with us thus far - it's been a fabulous adventure so far and thanks for all the comments and emails wishing us well and offering kind words of support - they are really appreciated, especially on the days when the going gets tough.

Adios amigos for now.....
Until January....
Martin and Sue


Whitney said...

Ok - I read this now!!! Yes, it does seem to put a nice close to this part of the journey. Glad you're here and look forward to the next continuing saga.

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