GuatemalaPosted by Malin Sun, February 27, 2011 03:44:52
But we ended up in Guatemala City. The Patrol desperately needed new oil and filters after travelling through North America. No parts for the ZD30 engine to be found anywhere, and the filters we brought along had been used for the service we had up in Whitehorse on our way south. Guatemala is the first country on our way south that actually imports the Patrol. Hopefully it will be easy to find parts from here on. Well, easy is in relatively easy. The only place we could find the parts was in Guatemala City – down town!
We took off from Antigua in the morning, trying to get into the city just after rush hours. We had plotted in Nissan’s position on the GPS, but we knew from experience that the maps in the GPS didn’t include one way streets and accurate highway on- and off ramps. So even if we knew we were in the right area, and that the Nissan garage should be right around the corner, we spent almost an hour trying to find the entrance. Frustrating when you actually can see it, but it is only possible to turn in coming from the other direction and no U-turn is possible.
But finally we pulled in, and the office came to live. They told us they had been following our blog, and that they had been hoping we would drop in. Excellent! An hour later the Patrol was up in the air, and at least two mechanics were working on changing the filters, oil, tightening up the wheel bearings, and looking over breaks and suspension. And I really got the impression that they knew what they were doing. We were even allowed into the garage to take pictures so we could document the happening.
And when the Patrol was taken care of (and even washed!) we were invited over to the main office to say hi and to a photo session! We were really taken good care of during our short stay in Guatemala City.
A BIG THANKS to Nissan for helping us out - you’re the best!
We left 15 minutes to six, and half way through the city center (this time in rush hour), our GPS switched to night mode. By the time we reached the city limit it was dark. Interesting. This was actually one of the two places we had told our selves we shouldn’t be or drive after dark. The other place is Caracas in Venezuela. But it all went smooth, and people seemed friendly - even those driving. Around seven thirty we were back in Antigua.
GuatemalaPosted by Malin Sat, February 05, 2011 18:07:51
Camping is not a tradition in Guatemala and it is only a couple of formal campgrounds in the whole country. So most of the time we will have to depend on Hotels, restaurants and people that let us camp at their property. In Mexico we have used “Traveler’s Guide to Mexican Camping” by Church & Church and it has been really good and helpful for us. They have also listed a few camping possibilities in Belize and Guatemala, but the options they listed for Antigua did not sound too tempting to us. After googling and talking to a fellow camper we heard about the possibility to camp in the city center of Antigua at the Tourist Police compound for free.
At our arrival in Antigua we “checked in” with the Tourist Police, and facilities included flush toilets, cold showers and free internet…
Antigua is a really nice city, and it is great to walk around town looking at all marked, all the old colonial buildings, plazas,
many old churches that are still in ruins after being destroyed in earthquakes,
and the mix of tourists and locals.
There are also many nice cafés and restaurants. It is almost embarrassing to admit we had “dinner” at McDonalds in Antigua,
but it is the nicest McDonalds we have ever seen.
After travelling in Mexico for a bit more than two months our Spanish has not improved much and we realized we needed some help. When we took a Spanish course in Norway two years ago, a good friend who speaks six different languages asked me, “Are you paying money to learn Spanish? “. And the answer is YES. Antigua is known for the amount of language schools and we signed up for 20 hours of Spanish over five days one to one with the teacher. It was really good and it is a totally different thing to be one to one with a teacher compared to sit in a class. Some days I felt like my head was ready to explode, it was really intense.
We learned a lot and now it up to us to continue practice what we learned, no more excuses.
While we have been here in Antigua we have also meet up with other travellers who are doing the same as us.
Some we have bumped into before, some we have known about and some are new. It is good to be able to discuss traveling routes, get good advice and get to know new people. Fun to see that we are all doing the same, but all in different kind of vehicles and at different speed. It is impressive to see families that travel with two or three kids and do homeschooling for about two hours a day. The family that has impressed us the most is a family with three kids where the oldest is using a wheelchair. Everything is possible if you really want to.
Here the webpages from our fellow travellers:
After nine days in Antigua it’s time to move on. Hope to drive up to Lanquin area tomorrow.
GuatemalaPosted by Espen Wed, January 26, 2011 03:10:29
After hanging out for almost a week in San Cristobal, we packed up the roof top tent and drove towards the Guatemalan border. As we’ve mentioned in a previous blog post (or was it only on our web page???), we have adjusted our route to meet up with some family from Norway on Yucatan in the beginning of March. We are therefore making a loop down into Guatemala and Belize before driving back up to Yucatan. And this means multiple entries to Mexico for both us and the vehicle… Which, according to guide books, shouldn’t be a problem as both the vehicle permit and the tourist cards should allow multiple entry to Mexico. But theory is one thing, crossing the border can be a different matter.
We spent a night camping at Lagunas de Montebello. This is an excellent option if you are driving south along the Pan-Am, and want to cross the border at La Mesilla in the morning. It took about an hour and a half to get to the border from the campsite.
It would also have been fine to spend a few days at the lakes as it is a really nice and quiet area.
Because of heavy rain in September and October the beach front cabañas are no longer at the beach front, but in the lake…
We had to get exit stamps from Mexico without handing in our tourist cards, and for unknown reasons this turned out to be a problem at La Mesilla. So we actually ended up having a beautiful drive along the valleys in Chiapas along the Guatemalan border. It took us about fours to reach the city of Tapachula, where we ended up spending the night in a “auto hotel”… We weren’t exactly impressed with our overland camping abilities this night.
The next morning we went for the Talisman border crossing, and here we got our stamps and the help we wanted. A detailed description of the border crossing and the paperwork is posted on our web page for those interested.
From Talisman – El Carmen we drove the RN-1 highway towards Solola (via Quetzaltenango), and from there to Panajachel at Lago de Atitlan. This was an interesting drive. From almost sea level at the border the road takes you up to about 3000 meters (9000 feet), and then back down to about 1500 meters (4500 feet) above sea level at Lago de Atitlan. Along the road we could also see traces of the above mentioned heavy rain, as the road foundation in jungle areas is not the best…
Five months later they are still working on clearing the landslides.
The road to Panajachel IS steep....
1000 meters (3000 feet) lower In Panajachel we camped at Hotel Vision Azul. We found the coordinates and a description on the web page at “dare2go.com”, but we have to say that the new owner (English speaking) has made major upgrades. This shows also on the price (75Q per person), but the facilities are clean, the shower is warm, toilets have seats, there is free WIFI in the hotel lobby, and the location is fantastic!!
Next stop: Antigua!