Friday, February 24, 2006

Some azaeleas blooming in front of our parking spot near the Quetzal Preserve.

Three of us got up at 5:30am to go look for quetzales, one of us slept until 8am and then got on the internet. We put the dish up last night, I needed to check the bank account and wanted to update the blog.

The 3 were gone until after 10am, they heard quetzals but never saw one. When they got back Patti and Bobby used the internet sat phone to call their bank and try to get a new card issued and sent to them in Mexico. Probably won't happen and they will send it to family in the US who will have to send it on.

On the road, we missed one turn and backtracked looking for a road that is on all of our maps but not to be found. We ended up going down the mountain and then across still looking for CA5 which shows as a major road on our maps.

We found it but after about 30km it turned into a dirt road that went up and down the mountains several times.

This is looking back towards the town of Rabinal, where the road turned to dirt.

The biggest haul got us to 6240' elevation on a dirt, rutted, one-lane road. It was quite an adventure with a 27' motorhome towing a jeep and a 27' 5th wheel towed by a big truck. This is a picture from the top of that grade.



The road was very narrow, very steep, very twisty with lots of hairpin curves and rocks that stuck out into the single lane. There wasn't a lot of traffic but it was difficult when there was. We also went through several small towns, right through the middle of them in narrow streets with people staring in amazement as we went by.

This is looking down towards the next valley. Bobby is outside taking a video.

A couple of times we had to wait for someone to move a parked car and once Bobby got out and moved a bicycle himself. In the mountains, families would run up the hill to stand in the road and watch us pass. Coming down was really steep and the hairpin turns unbelievable. We had unhooked the jeep at the second summit so our brakes would hold out. Good thing too!

As it got dark we came into the town of El Chol and found a wide spot in the road we could park in. Exhausted about covers it and exhilerated from the adrenalin.

Several people and kids stopped to talk to us where we were parked. One young man who had gone by several times in a Tuk Tuk truck stopped for awhile to talk. He has a sister in Philadelphia and knows a few words in english. As he was getting ready to leave, he handed me what I thought was a $50 Quetzal bill, signed it and told me it was to remember Guatemala. I was dumbfounded and we found some US one dollars bills and both of us signed the bills. He then produced another $50 Q for Bobby and Patti. Later on when we looked closer at the bills, it turns out they were 50 centavo bills so I didn't feel so bad. Still, it was a nice gesture on his part.

The people in El Chol were incredibly nice, I went to bed early - altitude does that to me - but the others stayed up longer and several more people came by. A young woman with her grandmother came and told us they lived just down the street and we could come there for water or anything we needed. Everyone was not so nice though, Bobby discovered one of his hub caps missing in the morning and is sure it was taken during the night. There were some young teenage boys hanging around that weren't as nice as the older people and young kids that came around. Still, all of us would go back to El Chol, we enjoyed it a lot.

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