Saturday, October 3, 2015

Day 5. Pills, thrills, near spills and never-ending hills

Lots more pictures can be found at
The route: drive from Huehuetenango to Chiantla; cycle through Aquacaten, Sacapulas to near top of never-ending hill; drive to Panajachel. Total cycling: 62 Km over 6 hours.

The Pills: One of our group developed some rather dramatic stomach problems halfway through Day 4 and had a very rough afternoon and evening of high fever and frequent visits to the bano. Fortunately, with a little help for Loparamide and Azithromicin pills all systems were "go" (well, stopped actually) by the next morning. 

The Thrills: The cycle day started out with a 10 KM, 3100 ft descent along a spectacular wooded canyon. Adrenalin: High. Effort: Low. Cycle speed: Excessive.

The Near Spills. 100% correlated to the aforementioned excessive speed, one of our group (not to be specifically named...but someone who has a lot of experience with motorcycle racing) came too "hot" into one hairpin corner that led onto to a narrow bridge. To avoid going off the bridge breaks were forcefully applied. The bike swerved, front and rear tires skidded, but fortunately the bike stayed upright and enough sped was "scrubbed" that bike and rider were not pitched into the raging river below. Unfortunately, at the same moment a pickup truck was just coming onto the bridge as well...from the other direction. The rider narrowly missed having "Toyota" permanently imprinted in his forehead. Five or six km down the road, to show he had learned from this experience, the same rider  skidded through a very similar hairpin corner but excluded the drama related to the oncoming truck.

The Never-ending Hills. We got a hot tip from our waitress at lunch in Sapacula. "Don't go straight. Go left at the corner. You just have to climb one hill, then it is all downhill for the next 40 km to your destination". The thought of some easy downhills and getting to Panajachel early was too tempting to resist. But for the next 2 hours and 18 km, we wondered if we hadn't tipped her enough and if this was the server's revenge. In the hot afternoon sun, struggling to move in our lowest "granny" gear, we sweated, strained and prayed that each 'next corner' would reveal the top of the pass. It never did. With the threat of having to drive in the dark to Panajachel we were forced to pack it in. And just as well we did. The end of the hill was still another 5 tough kilometres down the road. 

Along the way we stopped at a local school where Bernie joined in on an outside basketball game and Aroz played hand slap games with the kids. Another wonderful, memorable day in a stunningly beautiful country!

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