I’ve been in Quetzaltenango, aka Xela (shay-la) Guatemala for a month studying Spanish and piano and taking aerobics and yoga classes … oh, and climbing a damn steep volcano.


Full moon hike up Volcan Santa Maria above Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

The cost for private Spanish classes at Miguel de Cervantes Spanish School & Hostal is about $4 an hour. So, for an aerobics class, followed by 3-hours of one-on-one Spanish, an hour of piano and an hour-and-a-half of yoga I paid $16.70 per day, in comparison to a guesstimated $123 in los estados unidos. I feel spoiled … and pretty fit!



Miguel de Cervantes Hostal amigos after our farewell dinner, view from above Xela and a shot of the Guatemalan bodybuilding contest I enjoyed!

I left Guatemala when I did because, from past experience at the Honduran/Guate border in El Florido, I was told that vehicle permits were un-extendable and that once the motorcycle was out of the country it had to remain out for three-months before being able to renew it. Thus, it would have been futile to try to renew my 90-day visa, which is why I didn’t take a job I was offered at a local Spanish school. Well, when I reached the Fronterizo Talisman, Guatemala/El Carmen, Mexico border and the “migracion” official said that I could extend my motorcycle permit for free for another 90-days. I was shocked, a smidge peeved, but not surprised. Border rules in Mexico and Central American countries seem to change month-to-month, border-to-border and official-to-official.

For example, I paid $67-Quetzales including a fumigation fee = $8.70USD to enter Guatemala from Belize in March. By the time I came back through Honduras in June the fee jumped to $161Q = $20.90USD for the same 90-day permit. I crossed into Mexico from Arizona in January and paid $36.50USD for a vehicle permit for 6-months. However, as of June 11, 2011, things changed a bit. Not only did I have to pay $48USD when crossing from Guatemala into Mexico, but I had to travel to the permit office in Viva Mexico, 20-minutes from the border and give a $400USD deposit. Allegedly, I can get the refund back when I leave, but if I’m a day late the $400 will be immediately deposited into the “mechanicals don’t count” account. See below:


Click for larger legible image of the new deposit notice - Viva Mexico vehicle permit office 20-minutes from Talisman, Guatemala/El Carmen, Mexico border crossing

Despite the border yah-yah, I’m loving the ride. My goal after twisting down through the cold-n-rainy highlands of Xela, Guatemala and descending into the tropical jungle below was to stick my toes in the warm sandy beaches on the west coast of Chiapas, Mexico … which I did. I rolled into Puerto Arista on September 17 after about 9-hours of riding and border crossing and quickly found myself a beachfront family owned restaurant where the fee to camp and shower was to have a lovely breakfast at their restaurant while watching the waves; done.


Puerto Arista - 75-degrees perfect vs. the wet 60 in Xela

I continued up the coast to the hidden Playa Cangrejo, outside of Salina Cruz. After a couple mini-water crossings down a sandy dirt road I arrived at the beach, population 47 … if that, which was perfect. I woke to the sunrise over the water on the east-facing beach and walked along the sand shore in tranquility; just me and the pelicans. How freeing.


Playa Cangrejo - Stunning solitude and talk about beach front, look how close the water-line in from the restaurant

I left the Pacific coast beaches to cross Mexico and stop in Hierve El Agua (boiling water) before visiting Oaxaca. After hours of curving into the hills I reached the mezcal fields just before Mitla, the base-pueblo before ascending the dirt road to Hierve El Agua; a stop recommended to me by a fellow KLR rider I met in Xela (thank you Señor Sper).

The ride was steep and stunning until I hit an accident just minutes before the tiny pueblo of San Isidro Roaguía, where I waited for about 45-minutes while a tow truck and crew of volunteers pulled a car out of a deep ditch. The drivers, who were allegedly drinking, as per the open pack of beer in the back, dove the car head-first into off the road.


“Well, this is Mexico,” was the reaction of the Dosamigos Hostal owner in Oaxaca when I told him the story.

By the time I arrived and set my tent up in one of the 3-walled rooms of a huge sheltered semi-circle of buildings on the edge of a cliff overlooking the aguas and valley (not the designated 50-peso camping area, but no one present to tell me otherwise) the sun had set and everything had closed down.

 

I woke up with the sun and in my bikini with my breakfast packed, hiked down the little path to see the petrified waterfalls made up of calcium carbonates and soak in the pools. What I didn’t know was that the pools of “boiling water” were cold; doh!




I wound back down through the hills and the 70K into the city of Oaxaca and drove directly in through the door of the zocalo-close Dosamigos Hostal – thanks again to The Sper for saving me from searching for a moto-friendly crash-pad. I’ve only been here for a Monday afternoon and already, with the vibrant market and zocalo (central park), the lights and decorations strewn across the streets and the aura of energy Oaxaca has, I’m definitely staying another night … at least.