Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Day 2. Up, Up…and Away!

Lots more pictures can be found at 
And so it begins!
We woke at 6 AM to rain pounding our hotel courtyard. After coffee and huevos rancheros we were off. The next 8 Km was a twisty-turny climb of 8,000 feet to the top of the Alto Plano. A running race is held here every year called the Routa des Conquistadores. It's hard to imagine running a race with that kind of elevation gain over such a short distance. The van was in first gear for most of the way!

For the first few kilometres we were under the clouds, pummelled by rain. Following which we were in the clouds, pummelled by rain. Then, miraculously, we were above the clouds and the skies cleared...just before we reached the "mirador," the lookout where the real ride was to begin.

We hurried to get the bikes and ourselves ready and to snap a few start-line pictures. Bundled against the cold mountain air and ready for rain should it reappear, we rushed to get underway... and...within 200 meters...we a panty sweat. The road was steep. We were in our granny gears. We were gasping for breath in the thin, 9,000 foot air. A humbling start.

Slightly wiser, we continued up at a slower pace...and within 10 or 15 Km we started the longest, steepest downhill run I have ever experienced in decades of cycling. Concrete roads, little traffic, hairpin turns through some of the most spectacular scenery imaginable. As much as I love going fast, I slowed down and even stopped from time to time to enjoy the view. It was fantastic. It was so wonderful, I didn't want it to end.


Height isn't everything...

Dress Pants
Is it something I said?

Weaving a huipil
But end it did. In the legendary town of Todos Santos. I could go on and on...but suffice it to say, it is a very cool place. Todos Santos has been the focus of CAUSE Canada's efforts in Guatemala for over three decades through civil war, earthquakes, mud slides and more normal times for the primarily Mam indigenous population.
Primary health care, sanitation, reforestation, women's empowerment, micro-enterprise. For the rest of the day, we met with CAUSE staff and beneficiaries. Women whose life's have forever been changed by literacy and numeracy programs, business training and small loans to start and grow small businesses. Next time you buy a Marble Slab ice cream treat think of these colourful people, small of stature and large of smile. One of the principal investors in Marble Slab provided the hundreds of thousands of dollars CAUSE Canada uses to finance its micro-credit programs.
Happy Mom
Literacy Class 
Andy's kids
Micro-Credit Beneficiaries


Check out the Old Guys in Action Facebook Page for some great pictures of this region which is where CAUSE Canada will roll out its major, multi-year, multi-million dollar maternal newborn child health program. For me, it's off to bed. I'm cooling off after a wonderful sweat in the charcoal fired rooftop sauna hut. Tomorrow is another big day.

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