Thursday, January 29, 2009
Its been an awesome three weeks here in Guatemala. I got back riding on trails which was exciting and sometimes a little too exciting. I made tons of progress, but still have a good way to go.
The riding here is more about the adventure and culture than it is about the acutal trails. I mean we have extraordinary trails in the U.S. But there is tons of potential here. It is some of the steepest riding that I have ever seen. It really makes you try. Can I ride up that? Can I ride down that?
We received a warm welcome by Old Town Outfitters and got a best buddy tour. We will be back I'm sure.
Yesterday we got to the beach. It is a black sand beach on the Pacific side. There was not one single person on the beach. There were a lot of waves that were great for body surfing and boogie board. There is a surf camp there as well. The waves are pretty shallow, but you probably have to be good to work it. The water is warm and the sun very strong. It is very undeveloped for now.
We are looking forward to seeing our little doggie, Ruby. It was great to hang around blue heelers while we were here, though. They are a really fun breed of dog.
Antigua is such a picturesque town. Plus, its really fun at night making wheelys.
Not looking forward to going home to freezing cold, but excited about the prospect of the Ground Hog's Day ski on the Dolly Sods?
Monday, January 26, 2009
Our 8 day adventure out of Antigua to the countryside was awesome. We went to the most beautiful lake in the world, Lake Attilan. It is surrounded by Volcanoes and Mayan Villages. The main town is Panajachel. It is a bustling town that has a a chaoatic, bright lights Asian feel to it. All the TukTuks are blinged out. We stayed at the Casa del Mundo across the lake from pana. It is the most beautiful hotel that I have ever been in. But its friendly, affordable, sustainable and great food.
We then went up to the Alti Plano up on the Chugamangas(?). We rode our bikes at 11,000ft. We huffed and puffed. I pushed my bike a lot( as usaual this trip). We got sunburned, but decided that this was the coolest place so far for mtbing.
Then we went to the triangle area. This area in the very green part of the mountains was an epicenter of guerilla restistance during the civil war. These were the poor country people that would not let the rich take over their land( United Fruit, CIA). Its said that there are stil undetonated mines high up in the hills.
We stayed at an amazing cheese farm called Hacienda San Antonio in Acul. They make chancol cheese. It is so good. And of course we had fresh creme on our frijoles. Tim and Matt tried their hands at making tortillas. The little old lady making them just shook her head at them. Tim's were the best, I guess from making pizza at Luigi's for so long.
Then we finished up the trip at ChiChi. This is the biggest market in guate. It is hectic, frentic and so colorful. Its like sensory overload. We got some textiles and I got a jaguar mask.
I'll post some more pics later.
I'm so impressed with the hospitality and amazing adventure we are getting from Matt and Luisa at Old Town Outfitters. This is so fun.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
There are tons and tons of footpaths/singletrack in and around Antigua. For now there are no "no trespassing" signs. These paths are used by everyone(well not the cityfolk) for walking to and fro the fields. They are also used to gather firewood. People carry firewood on their heads and backs here. The strength of these little people is amazing. Yesterday, we saw a guy with a portable sawmill on his back with 2 eight foot boards. He got out of the way for us. And that has been the pattern. Its humbling. I've bad a couple of days when we would start out the day on our bikes and inevitably the ride always starts with a stiff uphill. I'm whining in my head about the pitch, the hike a bike or the state of my fitness or leg. Then we pass a 12 year old boy with a head full of firewood or a bunch of women at the pillar washing clothes and I realize the ass that I am being. What a priveledge it is to be able to have so much free time and money that I can ride here.
We had a day off the bicycle nursing an illegal mescal hangover. Its really not illegal, but that is the name for it and its very, very high alcohol. It tastes like fine, smokey whisky. Its really good. I bet Chipper would love it. But the woozy feeling made it a good day to go for a motorcycle ride. Tim and I borrowed Quincy's BMW 650 and Matt rode his. I was gripped and nervous getting out of the hectic streets of Antigua, but once we got out in the country it was so cool. We got up to a high point and could see the volcanoes at Lake Attilan hours from here.
We stayed the night at the Earth Lodge high above Anitgua. It is a small eco lodge that has great veggie food, small cottages, sustainable practices and a working avocado farm. The lodge gives money to the community school and encourages people to do the same. The view from our tree cabin was breathtaking. We could see where the bottom slopes of the volcano crossed and the pacific ocean in the distance. We then started our ride from there. We finished the ride with the coolest downhill so far, that ended right in Antigua.
Tomorrow we cheer Luisa on for the first mtb race in the Guatemalan national series.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Our adventures continue in Guatemala. We are based out of Antigua which is a UNESCO world heritage site. It is all cobblestone streets, colorful colonial architecture and a mix of new guates, old guates and gringos. It has a lot of tourists and lots of restaurants. The best meal that we have had so far has been breakfast at the rainbow cafe. The tipico desayuno is rice, black beans, tortillas, fresh eggs, salad and queso fresca and of course fresh squeezed orange juice.
We hopped on a tour with Luisa and some canadians. We grinded up sandy climbs. My heart almost came out of my chest with the effort. It hurts bad to be out of shape, but the burn is making me feel alive. We did a good bit of corntracks. There are these bits of sweet smooth singletrack between the cornfields. It was fun.
This country's heart and soul is its connection to corn, the earth and their families. Some things haven't changed in centuries and then some things are in a rapid plunge off the edge of plastic consumerism.
My leg is doing good. It gets tired on really bumpy downhills and it is terrible walking on the cobbled streets.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Tim and I made it safe and sound to Antigua, Guatemala. We are here for 3 weeks and are staying with our friends Luisa and Mateo. We fell in love with this place last year when we did El Reto de Quetzal and said that we would come back. So here we are. The weather is so perfect. And we got to ride some singletrack today! I know, its crazy, my third mtb ride since the broken leg and its in Guatemala.
Friday, January 2, 2009
I'm happy I got to do my first trail ride since July 19. I went over to Hillendale Park and did the green trails. It was fun. My leg is getting stronger and can withstand more jarring and bumps. Going to get out again tomorrow, too.
Then we spent New Year's in Canaan Valley and of course we got wind and snow. We could ski from house and do green trail. It was bony, but it was like cross country skiing. And Tim skied with me!