After a long, long stretch in Mexico I’ve made it to Guatemala. I probably spend twice as long in Mexico as I first thought and for quite a while I was looking forward to getting here. I did like Mexico, but it took some getting used to early on and I found the cycling quite tough at first, so I was happy to move on.
The other thing for me is that Guatemala is my first ‘new’ country on this trip. I’d been to Mexico before (albeit briefly) so it was refreshing to get to a completely new country. New money, of course, but essentially the same as Mexico. Or is it…?
Well it’s hard to put my finger on the little differences, but in my first couple of days I noticed a few things. Drivers here seem to be in even more of a rush than in Mexico; the stares I get are a little more friendly – there’s some cheerfulness in their demeanour and I even got an encouraging hand clap on one of the many hills; ‘agua’ means a soft drink, not water (‘agua pura’).
Otherwise it seems much the same, but I’ll notice more as time goes by. The other big difference are the mountains. I didn’t spend much time in the mountains in Mexico, but Guatemala is dominated by them. Big, green, fierce and beautiful, they make for spectacular scenery and lung-busting ascents. I got my first real taste on my way to Jacaltenango…