We wake up to a room full of sleeping firefighters. The dorm was empty when I went to bed. There is a full-time staff during the day and a rotating crew of volunteers that sleep in the firehouse at night. They must have all come in during the night. I slept well, not having to worry about things like the weather, critters getting into our stuff, or someone stealing our bikes in the night. We tiptoe out, careful not to wake the guys. Thanks again to the Mixco Bomberos for letting us crash at their firehouse on our way through Guatemala City!
We have finally enountered the famous Central American chicken buses, bright and garish in their decor, and driving with reckless abandon! This is where school buses from the States come to live our their final days. They’re souped-up, stripped of the speed regulators and given flashy paint jobs and assessories. These aren’t the slow, boring buses I remember riding as a kid. It’s like school buses gone wild down here.
We finish the last 18 miles to Antigua by mid morning. We summit the final climb and then there’s a screaming descent into Antigua. Scott hit his top speed for this trip: 47.6mph. I even made it over 40mph, but kept it under 45mph. We both passed a few cars on the way down. The combination of speed and weight of the bikes severely taxes the capacity of our cantilever brakes. In other words, we can’t stop at that speed. But it’s so much fun to finally go fast after moving at a snail’s pace up the mountain for days!
We’re excited to be in Antigua. We’ve decided our Spanish needs professional help so we’re enrolling at a language school for a week or two of classes. There are an overwhelming number of schools to choose from in Antigua. We’ve narrowed it down to five based on reviews and recommendations. We ride around town and visit all of them. Unfortunately, we’ve arrived on the weekend when all but one of the schools are closed. We want to start on Monday so the one school we managed to talk with ends up being the lucky winner.
Many thanks to our WarmShowers hosts Brian and Denise for putting us up for the weekend until our home-stay starts on Monday. Brian also owns a bike shop in town. We’re going to take advantage of the downtime and get my front wheel worked on. The bearings have been grinding in the hub for over 1000 miles.
We joined Brian for trivia night at The Ocelot, a local bar. I’m not a trivia buff, and Scott and I are out of touch with current pop culture, but traveling by bicycle does have the benefit of improving geography skills and regional knowledge. What is the largest Mexican state? Nailed it.
We’ll be going offline next week while taking classes so we can focus on our studies. Hopefully the gears in our heads go faster than the ones on our bikes.