03/31/24 San Cristóbal Totonicapán - south - CycleBlaze

March 31, 2024

03/31/24 San Cristóbal Totonicapán

An enjoyable ride, not too steep
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I had a weird encounter today. A truck pulled up and the driver rolled down the window and started talking to me in English.  Immediately after saying hello and welcome he asked if I was a criminal or pedophile escaping justice. I laughed and said no, commenting on how a bicycle wasn’t a good choice for a fugitive. He didn’t laugh. He asked to take my picture and I said sure, as he held up his cell phone. I reached for my camera to take one of him, and he got very agitated, yelling“No Pictures!”  I immediately put my camera down and apologized.  More questions about who, where, what, and why. More questions to ensure I hadn’t taken a picture. He told me he’d been in the US army, served in Afghanistan.  I asked he got citizenship after his service and he got quite upset and said no, he’d been deported. He’s about to cry at this point, describing the injustice. Actually, he is tearing up. Meanwhile, his pickup is stopped on a curve completely blocking traffic. I pointed that out and he said “They can go around, people know who I am”. And indeed, nobody honked, several said hi, and eventually a car pulled up behind and stopped with blinkers on. He asked if I wanted to have a beer with him and I said thanks but I’d rather not drink beer while still riding. Wrong Answer. He insisted I not insult him and had his passenger hand me a beer. It was cold, but he was weird so I didn’t enjoy it. I was wearing sunglasses and couldn’t see in the dark of the cab very well so I moved to switch glasses. More agitation that I was going to take his picture, but I explained I wanted to change glasses. “No! Your glasses have a camera!”.  I showed they were simple glasses and he relented. Without the sunglasses I could now see a pistol on the seat next to his leg. Great. He told me to pedal a bit down the road to a pull out and followed me slowly while I did. Now safely on the side of the road he got out, holstered his pistol and gave me a handshake and a hug. He had his passenger bring him another beer, I see he’s drunk  More talk about me, my trip, more questions about if I’m a criminal or pedophile. More hugs and handshakes. More tears about being deported. Fresh concern that I was recording our conversation on my phone, no I’m following a route, see? An invitation to stay at his house. An invitation to examine his pistol. No thanks to both but he removed the clip and handed me the pistol. Heavy. 45 caliber. Israeli made. Another invitation to stay at his house and to meet the mother of his children. More tears about his deportation and an invitation to make a video with him and share his story. Another offer of a beer. I said I’d rather just keep riding my bike, thanks and finally after close to an hour and another hug I was allowed to go.  

Other than that, today was a lot of fun. Delicious temperatures and fun riding. A lot of climbing but never too steep to pedal. Tomorrow will be steeper but I’m planning on less than 30 miles, so it should be OK. I’m heading to an “ecological park” where I am expecting to be able to camp. It’s got a nice view of Lake Atitlan which I want to see, but not visit because it’s too polluted with foreigners who have taken over the towns by the lake. I don’t want to deal with the steep hills in and out just to participate in the gentrification of this country, I plan to do that in Antigua, without the hills.

I left around 6:30, finding the streets calm
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Migrant and refugee aid center. Closed for Easter
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It’s my house, I can decorate it how I choose
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Someone’s nice estate. This is an unusual sight, mostly it’s been simple houses
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The hills are basically composed of volcanic ash, easy to excavate
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Lots of building on excavated lots taking place
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I had a raspado (shaved ice). Unusual to see a white person in the countywide
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Included tamarind paste, pineapple, coconut and some other tropical fruit whose I recognize but don’t remember the name. This was very refreshing
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I filled my water bottles with ice from the hotel. First ice since entering Mexico, it makes such a difference!
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I was carrying extra water in case I couldn’t find anything due to it being Easter. It turns out many of these roadside shops were open. Not really surprising since the owners generally live there as well
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I liked all the colors
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Roadside soccer ⚽️
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Most construction is cinder block. This elaborate wooden project looked interesting
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10 year old Akh-heh (my spelling) came by to stare at my bike and ask questions. I’m getting a lot of curiosity from young boys
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This kirsch is imported from Mexico
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Simple house, lots of greenery
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Buildings are under perpetual construction, with exposed rebar waiting for future additions when money is available. I spoke with the woman in dress shop, not pictured because she retreated into the shadows when she saw me photographing the building. Her family lives in a room behind the shop on the left and plans to build a kitchen and additional room for living upstairs next year. She asked me about how hard it was to get to the US.
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These are all sewn by the family, they cost $100 to $175.
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People turn away at the sight of a camera, I have to steal these shots
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Look in the shade for an enormous load of wood
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Drying(?) corn
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Nice decoration
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I toed my fender in a way that caused it to get sucked up and jam the wheel
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Bill ShaneyfeltI hate when that happens... Never fits right again.
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1 week ago
I got rid of it, look like a bikepacker now
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Bill ShaneyfeltHope for no rain!
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1 week ago
David ChavezOh, I’m going to get dirty for sure
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1 week ago
I forgot his name, but he was very cheerful and friendly
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Swing with a view
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I haven’t seen one of these on the side of the road since Oregon
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My hypothesis is that newly arrived school buses immediately get a roof rack installed and put to work
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The transformation into a work of art happens over time, as it earns its keep
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Church on hill. Not seeing many of these
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Step faults
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Miguel and his family are hand excavating the lot they bought, with hopes of building some shop space. He figures they can start construction in 6 months
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There was a festival happening in this town
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This was wild! Loud, ground shaking music and the weirdest collection of dancers. The sun was positioned in exactly the wrong spot
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I couldn’t get close enough for a decent shot, big crowds and I didn’t want to leave my bike. Might have been fun, but I needed to get to a hotel and didn’t linger
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San Cristobal appears
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Traffic backed up because of the speed bumps coming into town
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A series of murals discouraging migrants
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From left to right: “No harvest and no work, I’m going to the United States” The skull is saying “It wasn’t a good idea to sneak across, it’s Dangerous “
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I’m not completely clear on the other two
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But the message is, migrants will die. To go or not to go seems on a lot of people’s minds. I’ve had various conversations with people who ask about conditions and prospects
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My hotel. Another $20 room, nicer than the exterior suggests
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I walked around the corner to a Chinese fast food place. Waiting for my lo-mein
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This was really good
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Hey, what about us?
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Today's ride: 49 miles (79 km)
Total: 3,108 miles (5,002 km)

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