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Puerto Escondidos to Xela (Gautemala)

The road trip nearly comes to a very premature end.

sunny 18 °C
View Austin Texas to Argentina on hayden111's travel map.

Check out www.haydencarlyonphotography.com for more photos from the trip.

In a state of nervous trepidation we headed to the Guatemalan border. We decided to leave early as I had heard it was a bureaucratic nightmare and could take up to 2 hours just to process the paper work for the car. After driving through the mob of money changers and other randoms that swarmed around us as we drove from the Mexican border to the Guatemalan border, it only took an hour and it was relatively painless. Once we worked our way through the forms and red tape, it ended up being surprisingly easy.

After crossing the border we headed to Xela to meet Alex. From the map it looked like the drive would take 2 hours or so but after more than an hour of climbing over several mountains on some of the shittiest roads I had ever driven on (potholes, trucks, chicken buses, and 300 rabid dogs running across the road) we still hadn’t gotten anywhere.

By the time we had made it to the top of the mountains the car was not looking good. The temperature gauge was going through the roof and I couldn’t drive more than 5 miles without it overheating to the point where it was boiling the radiator overflow bottle and spilling water all over the road. I was in the middle of nowhere in the Guatemalan mountains with a car close to death.

I would like to say that I was very cool calm and collected during the whole experience but I wasn’t. By the time I finally limped into Xela and tracked down Alex, I was a stressed out mess. Every light on the instrument panel was blinking making the inside of the car look like a Christmas tree, the speedometer had died and I was losing power with every kilometer. I was so relieved to make it to Xela and put an end to what had been by far the most stressful day of the trip.

Alex hadn't been having much of a good time either. While I was enjoying a relaxing drive across Mexico with my new Lithuanian companion he was backpacking around Guatemala, getting a taste of the poorest country in Central America. He put my stories from Mexico to shamed as we sat down for a beer and he described his last 2 weeks. From dodgy hooker infested hotels and people stealing food of his plate at restaurants to watching someone be murdered in the streets, he had had a rough few weeks. While he was on a bus headed for Xela he was passing through a small town and heard what sounded like gun shots. He looked out the bus window and saw a man shot in the chest 4 times. He died there in the streets in front of hundreds of people.

We spent a few hours swapping stories and enjoying the local Guatemalan beer before calling it a night. The next day when we took our wounded car to a mechanic to get it checked out. After an hour or so the head mechanic had found the problem. A small piece had broken off the radiator cap which in turn effected the pressure in the cooling system, rendering it useless. We couldn’t believe it; a $2 part nearly fried the engine and ended the trip very prematurely. We are definitely lucky though and I am glad I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge and stopped as often as I did to refill the radiator.

The twin volcanoes at Lake Atitlan 2 hours west of Xela
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Alex and Renata with the locals in the square in Xela
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It had been an interesting few weeks for both of us. We had both gotten our feet wet and with the car back as good as new (we still didn’t have a speedometer so we have no idea how many miles we have done or how fast we are going) we were ready to hit the road and continue the drive south.

Renata and a salesgirl
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One of the local sales ladies in Guatemala
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Posted by hayden111 08:36 Archived in Guatemala

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wow! how's the car doing now?

by toddkoenig

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