Guatamala (Lake Atitlan & GGuys with guns)

Content with the volcano fix we rode on to Lake Atitlan, i had read on a fellow inmates report that some of the roads around the lake were the steepest and tightest he had seen…. good enough reason for me..

The ride there was stunning as we climbed up to the waters edge and as we took the road around the bottom of the lake (south), i noticed this guy off to the side, navigating his way home after a day at work… I couldn’t help thinking if these were the roads the inmate was talking about¿

Close to dusk we entered Santiago..

We rode through Santiago looking for something to eat. When we got to the outskirts on the other side of town, a traffic official stopped us and said; “If we intended continuing to San Pedro we should check with the police first as there could be bad men at this time of day.”

We said we were just looking for a restaurant, in return he pointed us to one a little further up the road…. It ended up being closed so I contemplated riding on to San Pedro but by stomach won out so we returned to Santiago for the night.

(Santiago Washing Machine)

The following day was market day in Santiago so a quick stroll and a bite to eat was had. Santiago is known for its large indigenous population and native dress.

A potential last meal… quite a typical plate of food, would have been fitting…..

As you leave Santiago towards San Pedro the road is sealed for a few kilometres then becomes dirt for a while before turning back into a sealed road. Its a mixture of farmland and cloud forest with the odd view at a volcano or lake.

Its five minutes after it becomes sealed again that we rounded into a straight about a kilometre long. A third of the way along this straight two men appeared from the forest. One was side-stepping quite rapidly to get himself across the road to the middle of our lane. He wore dark clothing and his face was covered and happened to be pointing a pistol directly at me.

The other man stayed in the opposite lane a little further forward than the other, dressed equally and gun pointing our direction.

To recall exactly my though process is difficult but i do remember employing the same tactics i use with authorities.. pretending not to see them and braking late. This was enough to slow the side-steppers progress. As I braked I looked over the top of his gun and at his eyes. He was making a lot of noise, shouting that I couldn’t make out, but in that moment I decided not to stop.

I played like I was going to stop but maintaining some speed I waited until I was a couple of meters from him, then a quick swerve and then full throttle.

Did i think that he was a little frantic and that he wasn’t going to shoot? Was it just a big a guess and gamble? or did his eyes tell me something??

Playing it again and again in my helmet, I think the signs were there, but remembering Claudia is holding on behind me probably makes this a hugely selfish decision. A friend did tell me later, the end result may have been a lot worse if i had stopped.

I watched in the mirrors as they lowered their weapons and turned to each other, probably to consult on what went wrong. Claudia hearing the shouting had caught a glimpse of the man to the side.. Needless to say her grip was tight around my torso for the next half hour.

When we stopped a police car on the outskirts of San Pedro they really didn’t seem bothered, told us that they aren’t killing anyone and if we had come from the other direction they would have escorted us.

Thanks guys….

As we climbed out of San Pedro towards Santa Ana we finally found that road we were looking for…

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