It was with apprehension that I returned to Guatemala. Guatemala was rough on my insides when we rode across its Northern state. Despite buying purified water and pealing and/or boiling our veggies, I didn’t have a solid poo the entire time we were here the first time.
It doesn’t look like our return will be any different. The situation is not yet Cipro worthy and if we were home the additional trips to the “bathroom” wouldn’t be such a bother. But when we don’t have access to restrooms and are in areas of increasing population density, it’s a dangerous situation when nature calls urgently. Luckily, our first aid kit is now well prepared for these situations. We have enough Imodium to constipate a cow.
But enough about my bad guts.
The climb today was steep. In total we climbed 5552 feet, averaging an agonizingly slow 8.2mph. This is the most we’ve climbed since riding into San Cristobal mid December. Some of the trucks weren’t moving much faster than us, giving them plenty of time to belch exhaust in our face as they crawled by. By the end of the day, we are covered in black diesel grime. Our washcloths are a dingy grey after we shower. If we are this dirty on the outside, I wonder what it does to our lungs. We blow our noses and black boogers come out. Gross.
Before today, I never really thought about the origin of the saying “riding shotgun”. I had an “aha moment” after a number of 18-wheelers passed with an armed guard in the passenger seat. Back in the days of stagecoach travel, a passenger armed with a shotgun would sit next to the driver to protect against bandits. I was taken aback the first time a truck went by slowly and the passenger was waving with one hand and holding a large gun in the other. I’m slowly becoming desensitized to the presence of heavily armed guards, something that is rarely seen in the States. In Central America it is common to see guards carrying large guns with smaller ones holstered in a belt at gas stations, banks, and even at some stores and restaurants.
We’re camped tonight at another truck-stop. It’s not fancy, but it has showers and a 24 hour armed guard. We’re less than 20 miles from Guatemala City. We haven’t passed any respectable looking hotels and we’re moving into an area that looks increasingly shady, so we opted for the most secure location we could find. The people working here seem nice and assure us it is safe, which is significant because Guatemalans are very quick to tell us about all the dangers and bad people that apparently lurk everywhere. So if they say it’s safe, then it must be true.