Que Le Vaya Bien (or ‘How we learned to love the Early Start’)
Date: 21st March – 27th March 2012
Where: Cobán – Purulha – El Rancho – Chiquimula – Agua Blanca – Asuncion Mita
Distance: 1258 to 1446 miles
Multiple goodbyes in Cobán ensured yet another late start. Laura and Lukas had been good company over the last two days, but now it was time to move on. Sarah’s jeans had been a stalwart of her panniers for over 4months now, but happy memories and a few lingering words of farewell were all that remained as we set out on our adventure once more. Our legs refreshed after a week of rest we soon reached our destination for the day, a Quetzal reserve in the cloud forests of the Alta Verapaces…either tonight or early tomorrow morning we’ed see these nationally symbolic long-tailed emerald birds (the Guatemalan currency is named after them). As it turned out the only green thing we saw of any length was a tree-snake which both of us had walked straight over (I thought they were meant to live in trees!).
Any disappointment evaporated as quick as the morning mist as we zoomed down a glorious road from the cloud forest to the warm smell of pine to the arid cactus hills in the valley below. That night we checked an email, and to our delight found Nico (Sarah’s brother) was with his bike only a day’s ride away in Chiquimula. Determined to make it there in good time to spend time with Nico, we made another early start, arriving mid-afternoon after our first big continuous uphill of the trip.
We spent a day relaxing with Nico before heading our separate ways, Nico to his Honduran wilderness adventure, us to the volcanoes, and we didn’t have to wait long… Over another pass and suddenly a vista of volcanoes opened up before us, and eager to climb one of them the next day we set up for the night in Agua Blanca with glorious cold showers and noodles cooked on Sarah’s coke can stove.
A bus took us to the trailhead of Volcan Ipala and we were soon trudging up a tarmac, then concrete, dirt, dust, ash path to its summit. A secret treasure of a crater lake as blue as the sky was there to greet us. After a time admiring the view we took off down the hill keen to get on our bikes and get a bit further down the road. A huge downhill (Geoff hitting 40mph for the first time) took us within a few miles of Ascunsion Mita where we joined what will be our on and off companion for much of the next 10 months: The Pan-American Highway; a pretty bumpy road by all accounts, but it somehow felt special to be on it all the same.
We start to feel like we’re hitting a stride now, with plentiful coincidences: hunger and thirst are avoided, tantrums are fewer; we’re leaving early each morning, we’ve found a place for the night well before dark; the scenery is more and more beautiful, all our memory cards are full. Long may it continue, people wish us well everywhere we go (‘Que Le Vaya Bien’) and El Salvador awaits us!