31 August, 2012

Day 58, 450km: Panama City

The objective today was basically to drive across Panama and make it to Panama City, which would be the final stop for North/Central America, there being no roads between Panama and Colombia.

It wasn't a very exciting road
 The road itself was pretty boring. Not much to see. That was an event-less morning. After 400km or so there were some hills so that finally woke me up.

Panama Canal
 The Panama canal is very close to Panama City. I took the picture above while parked in the emergency lane of a bridge over the canal. It is indeed ridiculously bad and I intend to get better views of the canal tomorrow. I red that there is a museum so I'm probably going there.

Panama City skyline
Panama City somehow reminds me of Hong-Kong. A small town by the sea that exists solely because of its location and geopolitical interest. But it's a very different town. Arguably much less charm. The bay road is nice but doesn't offer any view. Still you feel there's money being made here. All the big hotels are here and the city center smells business.

I was pretty excited when I arrived into the city center. That's it, I made my way across North and Central America. Pretty cool. South America, here I come!

In the morning I looked up hotels and ended up with two in my shortlist (there aren't many and they are rather expensive). I intend to stay at least two nights here, until I figure out how to ship the bike (and myself!) to South America.
So in my shortlist was the reasonably priced, well located, kind of old and without charm hotel (the reasonable option) and well, an unreasonable option. The hotel I stayed in the previous night was rather bad. No window in the room, waited 33 minutes before the check-in lady talked to me, no breakfast, noisy. So I was worried Panama City's hotels would be even worse.

The logic was "I drove 22,000km to come here, if the hotel is as bad as last night's f*** it I'm checking-in at the Intercontinental".
Picture number 1000 says my camera
Well luckily for my bank account, there first hotel was actually very good. I even have a room with a vestibule, so I can sleep away from my boots (they reek really bad after all these days of rain)! Yay!

Next I celebrated completing (roughly) half of my trip at the hotel's bar (thank god I wasn't alone, chatted a bit with Panamian business travelers) and caught up on the blog updates! Now I'll have to see if I can find dinner somewhere at this time of the day!

Wish you a great weekend everyone!
Cheers,
Guillaume

Day 57, 267km: Into Panama

In the morning the electricity was back so I did a bit of planning since I was near the border with Panama. I ended up leaving the hotel around 11am. There wasn't much of a breakfast there and I had exhausted my food supply the night before so I left hungry. I didn't want to stop until after I passed the border with Panama, thinking there would probably be a lot of people there. (That's the only land border Panama has if I'm not mistaken).

Raced to the border
 So I drove at a pretty unreasonable pace, thinking that every truck and jeep I passed would be one less at the border queue.
 And god that border was a pain in the a**. There weren't any helpers or any kind of hassle. Simply a lot of people and a very slow process. It took me 3 hours to clear myself and the bike into Panama.

Costa Rica - Panama border crossing
So these three hours were spent mostly in the area you see above, on the Panamian side of the border. Long queues at each booth and a lot of writing stuff down a form, typing it on a computer, printing and signing it, passing it to another office, typing it on a computer, printing and signing it ... you get the idea. This border really tested the limits of my patience. What didn't help is that the officials here are as you'd expect them in France or in the USA, rude and offering absolutely zero help to travelers.
I was very happy once the paperwork was all done. Right when it started to rain really bad.

Waited for 30 minutes at this bus stop
I was headed to the next "big city" where I would likely find a hotel. The city of David, 80km away from the border. Well the rain got really bad and I thought I'd wait for it to calm down. It didn't. After 30 minutes at the bus stop pictured above and daylight soon coming to an end I decided to go.

Better be driving under the rain than under the rain at night, I thought. My stuff was still wet from the day before anyway.

Made it to a small hotel in David when I again unpacked my completely soaked stuff. Now this time I realized that rain somehow got into my tank bag. Which is really bad since that's where I keep my camera, phone, passport and the bike's document. It wasn't completely filled with rain but enough to damage some of the bike's papers. I have to see if I can get new ones from Canada or I'll probably get in trouble next time I encounter a zealous border official.

That wasn't really a good day!

Cheers anyway ;)
Guillaume

Day 56, 460km: Costa Rica

Woke up in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua and left around 7am, after a delicious breakfast. The night before brought good rest, which would turn out to be much needed. That would be a long day.

Starting with paperwork!
Crossing from Nicaragua to Costa Rica was much less of a hassle than the previous borders. There were a few helpers at the border zone entrance. I almost ran over one of them who was waving at me to stop, right in the middle of the road. I guess they got the message that I had no intention to talk to them since not a single helper bothered me after I parked.

Border cheat codes activated
 Again I cannot thank enough the guys at PanAmNotes for preparing such a great write-up. With this information in my hand, I felt like I was playing a video games with cheat codes activated. It spoils most of the fun but makes sure you'll be going through boring/hard parts with ease.

 There I met Jeannine and Libre, mom and son going from California to Paraguay (Uruguay?) on a bad-ass 4x4. We exchanged contact and I'll sure meet them when I'm in Paraguay (or Uruguay, my memory is a bit blur on that). Jeannine's father is French and we were both pretty happy to get the chance to speak French for a little bit.

Welcome to Costa Rica
 That was the first road into Costa Rica, which gave me the opportunity to paint the bike and myself in a nice muddy color. I didn't have a destination that day, lack of internet the day before meant I was headed in a general south-eastward direction and intended to stop when I was tired.
 I had another surprise encounter with a bird, this time he hit me right in the face, luckily I wasn't going very fast and the helmet didn't suffer any (visible) damage. I don't know what's wrong with birds in this part of the world, this is a third time I hit one in maybe 4 or 5,000km.
 Didn't stop to look for the poor thing, there was too much traffic on the road to do it safely.

Cool views up in the mountains
 Well the road and views were rather nice, I went into San Jose (capital city) and was surprised by the (relatively) cool weather of a city 1160m above sea level. I had been in contact with guys at "La Moto" previously regarding tires and thought I'd stop since I needed a few (minor) accessories for the bike.
Oui, c'est la moto
Unfortunately they didn't have any of what I needed in stock... Had a chat with Gary (?) the owner who's been driving race bikes 18 years in the US before moving here. Got the chance to finally ask a question that was on my mind for a long time. When in curves, I'm much more comfortable on turning right than turning left. I'm left handed. Gary told me that it's the same for all riders, usually one is more comfortable turning into the side opposed to one's dominant hand.
So I was glad to know it's "a thing" and that I'm not being scared for whatever reason to make left turns. Still my left turns are bad but now I can accept that fact.

San Jose, Costa Rica
 I didn't a very brief visit of the city and went back on the road. There were only two lanes, with heavy traffic and lots of mountain roads. Passing trucks in blind curves up in the mountain roads is always a fun experience. Now when there's 200km of that however it becomes simply exhausting.

So if you add fog...
 Above is a photo taken from the inside of my helmet, to show you what it was like up there in the mountains with a very dense fog and my beaten-up visor that isn't much good anymore at evacuating water.

Didn't expect that in Costa Rica!
 It was pretty cold up there (10 or 15C) and started raining as I reached the top of that mountain. I intended to go to a coastal town, the place was still 60km away. The rain got really bad and turned into a monsoon downpour. I stopped at the first shop looking thing I saw on the road. I turned out to be a coffee shop (hot coffee rarely felt that good) owned by a French-Brazilian couple (what's with French owning stuff in this part of the world, I don't know).
 We had a fun chat, they told me the last motorcycle rides they saw were Brazilian so I made things even! I was completely soaked at that point and asked them for a hotel, turns out there was one just 200m away in a side road so that's where I headed next.

Camping in a hotel, have you done it?
 Well by the time I checked in at the hotel, the monsoon downpour had turned into a full blown tropical storm. Thanks Denis and Jeanne for your advice, I'm glad I didn't go down the mountain under the storm.
 The electricity went off in the whole area just as I received the key to my room. Gone was my hope of a hot shower.

Why do they have power just 500m away? That's not fair!
I dropped my stuff, hoping it would dry a bit before the next morning, had a cold shower (better than nothing I guess) and cooked dinner with my stove under my headlight's pale beam. It felt like camping again, up there in the mountains of Costa Rica. Except that I was protected from the storm by a roof and a window, which were both much appreciated.
Still, I realized I kind of miss my tent. I haven't camped a single night in Central America (because of the heat, rain and lack of safe parking) and miss being in my tent a bit. It's small, uncomfortable and dark but it's the closest thing I have to a home on this trip. 

I finished reading Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes recommended by Marc-Philippe (thanks!) where Stevenson tells the story of his 12 days, 180km solo hike with a donkey. He describes far better than I do the feelings you get when exploring the land at your own pace. Part of the book also seems to describe an unconfessed epiphany with a strong emphasis on Protestantism, faith and the history of Protestants in the Cevennes. 

It's very unlikely that I'll be talking about this in the next few months I can tell you!
So I went to sleep, thinking about my tent and wondering when I would next be sleeping with her. My friend Garmin, the bike and the tent when taken together are my own Molestine, each with their own mood, strengths and weaknesses.

Cheers,
Guillaume

Day 55, 260km: Brain dead in Nicaragua

I was pretty tired from the last few days, with the heat, borders and stress of driving in countries with bad reputation. So I decided that there wouldn't be a border crossing today, and set-off for the south of Nicaragua, after spending most of the morning at the hotel.

So that wasn't a very ambitious day in terms of driving. I was still pretty tired when I took off and spent the first few hours brain dead on a boring road.

That woke me up!
 I didn't know this brand still exists! I have very blurred memories of drinking it when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old and then never heard of it again. I thought it vanished and joined the cemetery of food brands.
 Seeing this ad triggered a -very- small reaction in my brain (not sure it would have showed up on a EEG).

Lunch break
 So I stopped for food shortly after. Light, short pulses of brain activity came back in the following hours.

For example when Garmin wanted me to go this way
 Just enough brain activity to figure out that Garmin (to be fair, OpenStreetMaps rather than Garmin) wanted to take me down this road for 50km while there was a highway parallel to it. My goal for the day being simply to make it to the next hotel, I passed and went back on the main road.

Hotel El Jardin, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua
 Finally made it to the hotel. It was more of a Bed and Breakfast in fact, owned by a French-Belgian couple who started their business a few months ago. They didn't have internet (problem with the router) and I had absolutely no intention of finding out what was wrong with their router.
 So instead I took it as another sign I should take rest and went for a nap around 5pm.

Nice view on the way from the hotel in the hills
Well I woke up again at 9.30pm, so I probably needed some rest. Had a delicious diner at the hotel (really the place is worth a visit just for the food) and went to bed.

The next day, crossing into Costa Rica!
Cheers from a sleepy Guillaume

27 August, 2012

Day 54, 310km: Border gymkhana

Again I was the first at breakfast when it started at 6am. I guess it will become an habit anytime there's borders involved. Although I didn't eat much. The stories of mugging along the road, scams and hassle by the helpers when going into Honduras that I had read the evening before left a twist in my stomach.

The road towards the border itself (infamous border of El Amatillo) was from what I red dangerous, with frequent mugging going on. So I was rather anxious taking off from the hotel, on my way to the border between the two most dangerous countries in Central America (if not of the Americas).

It was only 6am when I left though, and I was thinking that thugs probably don't wake up this early. Still, I was extremely cautious on the road and basically raced to the border, my eyes scanning the bushes ahead and my mirrors for a potential pick-up full of thugs. It was a stressful ride. Maybe I was overly anxious but I'd rather be safe than sorry.

Ridiculous amounts of paperwork
Arriving at the border, I felt I could go through the process without any trouble thanks to the excellent information written up by Logan and Briana. And I had another bullet, this one for the helpers. I found this thread on ADV with pictures of the crooked helpers (apparently some can be legitimately "hired" if you're careful enough).

Arriving at the border itself, same thing as the day before. Helpers waving and asking me to stop. I used the same "move or I ran over you" strategy to get without trouble to the Salvadorian exit. Again, they came along when I parked. Then it was a bit different from yesterday...

After a series of "no necessita ayuda", each more insistent and loud than the previous one, one of them looked at my plates. They are Canadian plates, remember I started the trip in British Colombia. Well the helper's geography of North America was lacking and he started telling his friends I was from Colombia.
I realized that they were thinking I was Colombian, and I (silently, for fear of letting them hear my lousy accent) played along and they quickly went away. I have stickers saying "Soy Frances" but I guess they were too dumb to notice.

The exit paperwork was quick and event-less, I made my way towards the Honduras entry.

El Amatillo border crossing
Well that place is a mess. Again, the scum of the earth welcomed me and waved at me to stop in random places. I knew where I was going and parked right in front of the aduana (customs). Now what's next was a fun moment.

Half a dozen helpers came along, all of them really had your typical gangster face. I didn't want to have anything to do with them and had to act quickly. I thought I recognized one guy from the crooked helpers photo I've seen the day before on the web board called ADV. So I pointed and laughed at him saying he was an internet superstar. It had the desired effect, the other helpers joined, and laughed at him with me. They didn't even bother offering their services.
The guy I pointed at looked pissed and walked away. The others were still laughing and asked me on which website we could see the guy's photo. I told them to go to www.ducon.com (you idiot, in French). Now that I'm checking they're is actually a company called Ducon, haha that'll confuse them.

A couple more helpers came shortly after and I told them I would make them famous on internet, pointing at my camera. That scared them and I was free to walk around the place.
A few minutes after I saw the actual guy who was on ADV and realized I was mistaken earlier. Laughed at him too, but he already knows he is famous. :)

So basically I was laughing at crooks at El Amatillo. But it worked, they left me alone. Still, I was regularly checking on the bike, you never know how they can react for being laughed at.

The customs bank, Banco de Occidente
I'm posting the photo above to help fellow travelers. This is the Banco de Occidente, where you'll have to pay the $35 fee for temporary import of your motorcycle. This is the bank for the Honduras customs at El Amatillo. It is located on the left of the blue building, so that is the opposite side of the aduana building. You will have to pay your fee there if you arrive during the week. The fee is to be paid in Lempira only. If you arrive on the weekend you can pay at the aduana directly in USD (they'll issue a receipt too).

El Amatillo immigration building, closed for renovation (August 27, 2012)
Again, the immigration and customs staff were very polite, honest and helpful. What an horrible job they have, processing paperwork all day long in the middle of crooks and thugs. I really take my hat off to these people.
I guess they have their own little commerce going on with commercial import, however.

Honduras Pan American highway, near the border with El Salvador
Then I basically raced across the country. World's highest murder rate, I had no intention whatsoever to stop nor visit any place. Maybe I was overly cautious, but again I'd better be safe than sorry. The only stops were for the one photo above and the one below!

Honduras Pan American highway, near the border with Nicaragua
I red the day before that for crossing into Nicaragua, the border of El Espino (CA-1) is a much better choice than Guasaule (CA-3). Well I can vouch for this. Very few people, clean place, modern buildings. The only helper who showed up was a kid.

Honduras immigration and customs building
So again if a fellow traveler reads this, go to El Espino. The Honduras border lady at El Amatillo was right when she told me this place is safe and hassle-free. Just know that the Nicaragua side is closed for lunch between 12pm and 1pm...! Since I arrived shortly before noon, I tried to get some lunch there. There was a single restaurant, filled with truckers waiting as well. The restaurant asked for US$6 for a plate of rice and chicken. Told them "no soy estupido, qual es el precio normal?" but they wouldn't serve me food for cheaper, probably because my accent was so bad, haha. So I didn't eat there...

Gracias senor
You need insurance to enter Nicaragua apparently (though the customs didn't ask for it). There were two kids selling it there, each from a different company. They both said it was $12 for 30 days. Asked what discount they were willing to give. One lowered his price to $11 and the other kept it at $12.
So I purchased the one from the kid who kept it at $12, thinking the two knew each other very well and the first one who dropped his price was being a dick.

Nested import, I wonder what the paperwork looks like for this
2 hours after arriving at the border I was free to go. (This seems to be a rather "standard" amount of time required for borders).

The rain welcome me in Nicaragua
A few kilometers after the border, I was stopped by the police. They were stationed on top of a long and steep hill and told me I crossed the continuous lane to take-over a pick-up (which I did) and that it was illegal (which it is). I had red on the French embassy in Nicaragua's website that the police here is safe and respected so I thought there was no point in playing games with them.

I recognized the infraction, gave them my permit and the officer starting filling his paperwork. He told me I had to pay 300 Cordoba (US$13) and that I should pay at the bank in town and come back to him to get my license. That might be true. I asked if there was any way I could pay here where I was stopped instead.
He got the hint, looked at his buddy (who nodded) and continued to pretend to fill paperwork until there were no cars around. Then the price was US$20, which would go directly into his pocket of course.
I tried negotiating the price down but he didn't agree. He had my license so I didn't have any leverage.

Lesson learned, Nicaraguan police isn't as incorruptible as my government says it is and I should start talking bribes before handing over any document.

After that I was back on my way to Esteli, somewhere in the highlands of northern Nicaragua where I'm now staying for the night.
That was a stressful day, I'm glad that the next border is with Costa Rica where I shouldn't have to deal with these sorts of things.

Have a great week ahead everyone,
Guillaume

Day 53, 350km: Across El Salvador

Woke up in the mountains of Moyuta for an early breakfast and left shortly after. I arrived at the border around 6.30am. There were a few "helpers" there. These guys will pretend to assist you with the paperwork, copies and general navigation at the border. In reality they'll take your document hostages and invent fees here and there.

So instead of falling for these crooks I did some research the day before and I can't recommend enough the following links to fellow travelers:
- Central American Borders (Deya and Brian's blog)
- El Salvador to Costa Rica (fredsuleman at HUBB)

Border fun starts here
 Arriving at the border, I had to make it clear with the helpers that they were wasting their time talking to me. I knew exactly what was the process and where it would take place. So when they waved at me and asked me to pull-over in random places, I simply went straight past them, slowly enough so that it wouldn't be dangerous and fast enough so they would stay away.
 Of course once I parked they came over and tried their luck, adding all sorts of bullshit like "they don't take USD at this border" (they do). I ignored them, had a couple "stare fight" with the two that wouldn't go away. The general idea was to show them in a polite manner how much I despise them and that they'd better leave me alone.
 After a few minutes of that they walked away and I was free to do the paperwork.

 If anyone who's reading this is planning to go across the border at La Hachadura, be sure to read the links above. Or better, have a copy of it on your phone so you can refer to it anytime. Believe me that's very useful when you're jumping from one booth to another, to keep track of the documents you should have in hand at that point.

Muy caliente
 Looking at the photo above I finally understand why the day before my hosts at Don Pancho, Moyuta were inquiring about my diet. I look scary. Plus it was very hot and humid so it seems I have a fever or something.
 After 2 hours of paperwork, getting something stamped at some booth, copied, then stamped again, then re-copied I was on my way.

El Salvador countryside near the border
 It was a good surprise to see that the road was in excellent condition. I went from La Hachadura to La Libertad along the CA-2 with follows the shore.

Great views of the Pacific
 There were a lot (like, a lot!) of tourists here. Lots of hotels, bars, beaches and surfers. And also a few bikers, those I talked to where from El Salvador but I saw a guy on a GS coming in the opposite direction. It's actually the first "motorcycle traveler" I've seen since I crossed into Guatemala 4 days ago.
Which actually surprises me a bit, I thought that since we all go through the same borders (basically) there would be a lot of motorcycle travelers. There weren't.

Surfer gas pump in La Libertad
 That gas pump was really fun, playing some kind of Salvadorian reggae (not sure, it was in Spanish at least) loudly. That with the nearby sea and the dreadlocks of the guy at the pump, the 35 degrees C weather really was fun.
 I tested the signal on my phone (no roaming with DTAC in Guatemala) and was surprised to see I could roam here. I got the operator roaming SMS telling me "Welcome to Jamaica". I guess they weren't that far off, considering the gas station I was in.

CA-2 was a lot of fun :)
 There was a 50km section of perfect condition, amazing views, twisty and hilly road on that highway. I was so glad to be on brand new tires here and had a lot of fun.

San Salvador suburb
 Perhaps two hours after entering the country I was in San Salvador. This wasn't my destination for the day however. The city (at least the parts I've seen crossing it) actually looked nice and modern. Good roads, all the stores and shops you'll find in any big town and a pretty good impression of safety. Now I'm sure the poorer districts are an entirely different story, the world's second highest murder rate (for countries not at war and that well, have the data) comes from somewhere.

CA-1 Pan American highway
 After San Salvador I was on my way to San /Miguel, a mid-size town 60km away from the border with Honduras. So basically I crossed El Savador. I felt a bit bad about it, it looks like there are some really cool places in there. But travelling alone I don't want to take any risks.

Nearing my destination
I was in San Miguel around 2pm I think, so I checked-in very early at the hotel. Took the opportunity to run the errands and walk around the neighborhood to see what a Salvadorian city looks like. Well again, I was in a good district and what I saw was basically your typical this-could-be-any-country-in-the-world mall, with its KFC, pizza hut, electronics, sports, fashion and whatnot.
Had a burger, came back to the hotel to rest and get as much information as I could on going across Honduras and into Nicaragua, my destination for the next day.

Information which turned out to be pretty scary, so I went to bed with a worried mind.

Buenas noches!
Guillaume

26 August, 2012

Day 52, 202km: 20,000km!

Today I was once more the first at the hotel's breakfast. I was excited to wake up for two reasons.

First, my bike was at the garage and it was the first night we slept separated. Now this probably sounds ridiculous but after close to two months of making sure she sleeps in a safe and stable spot every night, I felt slightly anxious, even though she was in good hands at BMW Guatemala.
Second, I talked a bit with the workshop team the day before and they agreed to let me have a look when they would change my tires, so that I could learn a bit in the process.

Which means I was at the garage when it opened at 8am. There were a few things to do on the bike before they could change the tires so I ended up waiting until 11am. Well. At least I got a chance to talk with almost everyone there, customers included. Then we changed the tires together (it was a pain in the a** even in the comfortable setting of a garage with all the proper tools and machines, so doing it on the side of the road still scares me but at least I know how it's done).

By 1pm all was done (they even cleaned the bike! She deserved it). Great service, thanks BMW Guatemala City.
I was told the day before I would be ready to go at 10am so this kind of messed up my plan for the day. I intended to cross to El Salvador and make it to the "surfer city" of La Libertad by 4 or 5pm. Leaving 3 hours later meant I would arrive by night there. No way I'm going to travel by night in the country which has the world's second highest homicide rate (the first being its neighbor Honduras).

So I briefly looked for cities/hotels near the border but didn't find any. I took off and thought I would at least find some sort of guesthouse with secure parking somewhere over there.

Pan American Highway, east of Guatemala City
 I was feeling a bit down, the idea of staying somewhere near the border didn't seem very exciting. And back at the garage I had the first signs of a migraine coming (flashes in my left eye) so I knew I was in for a big headache at least. Hoped for the best and continued on my way.

Yahoo!
 After a while I hit this very cool milestone. 20,000km! In 52 days, that gives an average of 385km/day. As I was when I hit 10,000km somewhere in Utah, I felt kind of overwhelmed thinking I was roughly halfway in my trip.
But soon I cheered up and started thinking about all the cool riding and amazing places that is waiting for me over there in the South.

The spot where I passed the 20,000km mark
 Took a photo to remember the place. I have to admit it wasn't as beautiful as it was for the 10,000km mark.
Still, pretty cool.

Good job little bike. Happy with your new tires? And you're so clean!
 Took another photo to shed the light on the silent hero of this journey, my bike. Good job, you didn't fail me even once. And now that your front wheel has been balanced (80 grams were added one side of the rim which is a lot) the ride is even smoother :)
At that point the migraine was almost gone and I was able to think straight again.

Kept on going and went down the mountains towards the southern border not far from the sea
 I was nearby the border around 3.30pm and knew it was too late to cross and safely make it to La Libertad. Still I thought it would hurt to have a look at the border so that I would know what to expect tomorrow.

Well it doesn't look like fun
 So this is what I can expect. I'll try to make it as early as possible tomorrow, I guess there should be many people around 7am. While I was looking around the border town a couple guys started telling me they would help me cross the border and were very insistent. I was probably too nice with them and I guess I'll tell them earlier on to go to hell tomorrow.
There was a hotel here at the border of La Hachadura. Rooms were rented by truckers, by the hour. I passed.


Earlier on the way from Guatemala City I saw a couple hotels in the city of Moyuta, 30km away from the border. Plus it was in the mountains so I could have a cool night of sleep. Checked in at the Don Pancho. There are two hotels here, that's the one advertising WiFi. In case a fellow traveler happens to come to Moyuta, Guatemala, I'd recommend it. Rooms are clean, owners friendly and even speak some English having traveled over Europe several times. They make their own coffee and you get internet in the room. What can we ask for more?

Maybe a restaurant?
 So I ventured into town looking for a restaurant, found the place above. Devoured what I was given "Carne con tomato con arroz" and came back to the hotel. Had a chat and coffee with the owners in my still heavily broken Spanish, that was fun. They were very curious about my trip so it was fun talking to them.

Guatemalan people overall I found very friendly and outgoing, really a country I'd recommend to anyone. Plus it doesn't feel unsafe at all.
I met many tourists, also women travelling alone (including Jennifer, an American on her way to meet a Quechua 'priest' somewhere in the Peruvian jungle for an initiation to their spirituality!) so I don't think there its risky if one follows basic precautions.

Moyuta, Saturday night fever
So that was a quiet and relaxing evening.
Tomorrow, El Salvador!

Off to bed now,
Enjoy your weekend everyone.
Guillaume