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Monday, October 31, 2005
The Diary: Saturday 10 September 2005 to Sunday 18 September 2005

Saturday - 155 miles to the Costa Esmeralda on the Caribbean coast. We had a great hotel right on the beach with a lovely pool. Everyone went down to the ocean for a swim and the water was really warm.

Sunday - riding to Catemaco today. Can you believe that the petrol here is only 45p a litre? We were met en route by local Mexican riders for lunch and had our photos taken by a Mexican motorcycle journalist. We rode near the coast the whole way. Everything is now much more hot, humid and tropical.

Monday - 290 miles to Palenque. About 8 hours riding all in hot sticky tropical heat, but we had a wonderful hotel waiting for us at the end of the hard day: everyone had their own cabanas with straw roofs, set in a beautiful tropical garden and a huge pool. In the evening we had dinner watching a Mayan dance show.

Tuesday - we had a day off and went to visit the Palanque Mayan Ruins, built back in 6 to 7 century AD. An incredible site set in the jungle.

Wednesday - 145 miles today to San Cristobal. In this short ride we went from the lowland tropics then climbing up to 2100 metres into cool pine forests. It even got a little chilly! We stopped off at Agua Azul, a beautiful waterfall.

Thursday - we explored San Cristobal, a lovely Mexican town and today it was a fiesta day. The town was humming and there were bands playing in the Plaza. Had a group meal and were briefed about the Guatemala border crossing.

Friday - we had to be up at 5am to be ready to go the border. It was still pitch black when we left. We arrived at the border for 8am and by midday the whole group had got through. Amazing scenery in Guatemala: lush tropical vegetation, great roads (no more topes!) Our hotel was another hit, set in its own gardens full of bright flowers and hummingbirds and just a short walk from Lake Atitlan.

Saturday - day off to explore our first Guatemalan town. For the first time we see a lot of tourists also here, with many market stalls selling blankets, rugs, shirt all in traditional Guatemalan textiles. There are also lots of mototaxis (tuk tuks), which you can use to buzz about town. The Guatemalan buses are also very brightly coloured, but can be very slow!

Sunday - Chichicastenango today. Only 25 miles. up early to get there to see the indigenous Indian market. Hundreds of stalls through narrow alleys. A lovely hotel with parrots around the centre garden.