Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Mar 18, 2003.-- Approaching 3 years+10 months with over 87,000 miles

Credit to lost in Guatemala

-- Story by Chris --

Sun, March 9th: The ride from Chichicastenango to Antigua was wonderful – mountain twisties that stretched the 122km ride into 2.5 hours. I was having so much fun, I even ran out of gas! We arrive in Antigua just as the sun disappears, and quickly find a place our German friends stayed in. The Jardin Bavaria was a restaurant/pub with a few rooms out back. We only stayed here 1 night, but the food was… espectacular!

Mon, March 10th: Changed to another hospedaje, wandered around Antigua, enjoying the warm colonial city, and catching up on email. We are at 1,600 meters – daytime is hot wearing shorts and t-shirt, but the evenings cool down to light fleece and cap weather.

Tues, March 11th: We drive from Antigua to the capital – Guatemala City. We quickly make our way to the Zona 9 and a small (private) BMW workshop. Carlos, the owner, contacted us months ago and offered to meet us and help us any way he could. He only got into motorcycling a few years ago, but has already owned 35 bikes (currently has 5). He fell in love with BMW, and set up a workshop with full-time mechanic who works on all the new model bikes. He is also the Central America importer for Wunderlich accessories, Metzeler tires, and Hit-Air protective jackets (air bags for motorcyclists) – the website is:

We spent 2 days working on the bikes, including full service and replacing 2 worn rear tires for less than $40 each -- Guatemala and Costa Rica are the places to get inexpensive tires in Central America. We met a few of the local BMW bikers, including John, an American Air Force officer working at the US Embassy. On Thursday, we returned to Antigua with Carlos and his wife, and we’re treated to a wonderful dinner. We stayed the night in a nearby hospedaje, and they returned to Guatemala City in the (unusual) rain.

Fri, March 14th: It was only 147kms from Antigua to the west side of Lago Atitlan, but the winding mountain roads and beautiful scenery made the going comfortably slow. We stopped for lunch at a Mirador (lookout) restaurant at 2,400 meters, and although the clouds were low, we had spectacular views. The last 20kms were off-road, with the final 2kms being quite technical and downhill. We arrived in San Pedro in mid-afternoon, quickly found a hotel on the edge of the lake. We showered and changed, then sat on our balcony and watched life go by on the lake and streets below. San Pedro is the new hippie-haven – it makes for a very interesting mixture of local weavings and bright colors, combined with tie-die and scraggly hair.

Sat, March 13th: We bought breakfast on the street – a loaf of fresh banana bread from a little old woman, then climbed the hill to the liquado stand for a fresh fruit shake. Our favorite was the blackberry/banana with milk. Cost was Q5 for the loaf, and Q3 each per shake, for a total of Q11 ~ less then $1.50! Spent the day wandering around the village, taking in the views and enjoying the serenity and pace of the village.

Later we found several great restaurants, many with free movies -- Good idea since the late afternoon rained into the night.

Sunday, March 16th: Got up early, had our breakfast of fresh banana bread and fruit shake, and caught the boat to Panahachel on the other side of the lake. There are lots of little lanchas, water taxis that ferry people around to the 12+ small villages surrounding the lake. Pana, as the locals call it, is the original hippie haven-gone upmarket. It has the biggest souvenir market around so we decided to check it out. We didn’t buy anything but it made for a pleasant morning detour.

We returned to San Pedro later in the day – the water became quite choppy, and the 30-minute ride was a bit hard on the kidneys and bum. Before dark, we strolled through the alleys and small paths, ending up at another movie/meal deal. Just before the movie started, another biker we met the week before, Steffen, came in along with yet another biker named Paul. Paul, an American from Seattle, is on doing an Alaska to Ushuaia trip on a KLR. Of course we couldn’t resist spending the rest of the evening with these two swapping stories and information.

Mon, March 17th: Happy St Patrick’s Day! A final street breakfast with Steffen and Paul, then we headed northwest around the lake towards Huehuetenango, 145kms away. It’s a gorgeous winding ride on a good paved road up and over the mountains, just to leave San Pedro! The road connects to the main highway and we are on your way. The wind is blowing a gale and kicking up red dirt into the sky, like a blanket of smog obstructing what would be a wonderful view. When we leave San Pedro we are wearing several layers of clothes to keep warm. By the time we arrive in Huehue (pronounced way-way), it’s hot again and we are dripping with sweat. Find a cheap hotel with parking and do the walk-about around town.

Tue, March 18th: Decide to do a morning ride up to El Mirador and the plateau in the direction of Todos Santos. For the first time in nearly 4 years, we lost each other!  I stopped to take some pictures while Erin drove on to the mirador. The signage was a bit dodgy, and when I got up to the lookout area, Erin wasn’t there. There was a pyramid monument about 3 meters high and 5 meters wide in the center of the small parking area. I swung around and headed further up the mountain to reach Erin. After a few kilometers, I was wondering where she disappeared to – usually, she drives slower and waits for me to catch up. After about 5 kms, I stop and ask the locals if another bike had passed. Yup, about 5 minutes before! I figured Erin was heading to a place on the GPS we thought the mirador would be, about 10kms further. We were on a plateau about 3,400 meters high, and the road wound around the small hills. When I finally got to the junction, I asked some other locals if a bike had passed. Yup, about 10 minutes ago. I decided it was time for some clarification, and cleverly tried to ask questions that required specific answers.

What color was the jacket?

What color was the bike?
     He pointed and said "Bike just like yours"

Just like this one?

I zoomed off – the road was very windy – where is she?!?!  I eventually caught up to a small moto with 2 guys on it. This was 25 km from the Mirador.  I waved to them and they slowed down.

Did you see a motorbike pass you?


How long have you been on this road?
     "About 30 minutes"

I screeched to a stop. OhmyGod – what happened to her? Is she lying in a ditch off the side of the road?!?! I returned to the junction, and asked the guy a simple question

How many people were on the bike?

Ach! As I started to pull away, thinking for sure Erin is in a ditch (or worse), I see her approaching up the road – whew!!

Apparently, she had missed the turn for the Mirador. As she was turning around to return to the Mirador, she looked down and saw me enter the driveway. She circled the monument and parked. And there you have it – the comical driving around an obstacle, not very large, but large enough with the timing just right…

After a good laugh, and another stop (together) at the Mirador, we returned to the hotel around 10:30am, packed the bikes, and headed to the Mexican border. 


Arriving into San Pedro


View of the Sleeping Indian from our hotel balcony

See the shape of the Indian's face, looking up to the sky?


Watching street traffic in Panajachel


Street weaving in Panajachel


Leaving Lago Atitlan


Below El Mirador, view of Huehuetenango


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