Antigua , Guatemala 2nd June 1998
Thank you everyone, we got to read your messages a while ago but it seems every time we imagine being on line for a while & getting some post out, the system conks out on us & we don't get the opportunity to get back to you. We should expect this being in a country like Guatemala but we always fall in the trap of believing we'll manage to stay on line for a long enough period of time to actually write someone a letter. Ha bloody Ha. Last time we tried in Coban we had to go to the office 3 days in a row - never even getting close to being on line. The final day we did manage to get onto the internet but never managed to actually get to hotmail’s homepage as it would just log us off after 20 minutes of no response. To add insult to injury we had to pay 40Q for absolutely Nada.
So yes, it looks like we've finally found a computer that actually seems to work! Not only does it work but it works at normal USA speeds WOW! We only have to wait about 3 seconds for it to react to a key instead of the normal 6-10 mins. For a country in which (as I'm sure you know) it is near impossible to find a working telephone that is some event. Stani tries to get her parents to understand this but they don't believe her - they think she's just too tight to pay for the phone call - "reverse charges" they plea. They also don't believe us that you can't do that either. We’d like to suggest they visit places like this so they could get an understanding but not many parents are mad enough to leg off on their bikes on the dirt "roads"??? up into the mountains (and then moan like hell when we get punctures (Richard was averaging 4 day at one point), broken spokes, racks etc - without a bike shop for miles. He, however has become quite a little Mike Guyver with his ingenious repairs. Most of the stuff works better once he's tinkered with it than when it was in full working order.
We're in Antigua at the moment (what still?) but are heading off tomorrow morning. We've spent the last week reading and partying - Richard hasn't read a French book for months & decided we had to stay until he finished at least 2 books. Unfortunately (or is it fortunately?) he's a slow reader so it's been over a week now! But it's been just as well as for the fist time we both have the runs & take it in turns banging on the door of the loo to get the other one out so that we can have our turn! Interesting thing is that it's making Stani eat even more if that's possible - whilst Richard has lost his appetite all together. Maybe he's just fed up of beans, rice & rancho cheese. When in Panajachel we found tofu & tempeh - we were in bliss! Probably what threw our stomachs - not used to such exciting food!
At first we hated Belize - flat, boring, bloody hot. Belize City was the pits in our opinion. We decided just to cycle straight through. Eventually got into the Mayan mountains and changed our opinions.
Then for some reason we changed our minds the morning we were leaving & went down to Sittee River to catch a boat to Glovers Atoll for a week. The dirt road from Dangriga was hell - not so much that it was difficult but so much traffic - dirt constantly in ones face). Most fantastic coral reef. Richard had never dived or snorkelled before & came out the water in total wonderment. He had intended to do some fishing but said he couldn't bear to think he might catch one of those beautiful fish by mistake. He swapped his fishing rod for the hire of fins instead. YES another strike for vegetarianism!!! Bad point of Belize was that Stani dropped her camera when we were on the idyllic island - only at the time we weren't on an island but on a boat out in the sea. Very frustrating to have all these images in your eyes and know there's no way to record them.
Guatemala’s been a major let down for us - we've struggled on all the dirt back roads for no avail. Because of the EL Peten fire / slash & burn practises/ Pacaya volcano there's virtually no visibility and you get to see nothing of the amazing views (we presume they are amazing!) But we did get to climb Pacaya and played around on the lava - bits were still red hot - amazing! We all thought we were on the moon or something. Then it started to rain and there were just clouds of steam all around us. Totally astounding experience. Richard hadn't wanted to go, complaining that there were volcanoes in France but I stated none were active and insisted on going.
Zen of Cycling rule no 3 - there's no such thing as hills - just levels of unflatness.
(or is it levels of unfitness?)
Stani & Richard
Next Newsletter: Panama 19 Oct 1998