November 10th, 2005: Pijijapan, Mexico to Rehuetlun, Guatemala
On our way towards the Guatemalan border, and throughout many areas in Guatemala we passed through more areas that had been damaged by the hurricane. It humbles you to see the destruction that nature can cause. Massive boulders were carried huge distances, entire trees were uprooted and got stuck along the base posts of bridges, sections of highways were literally washed away, and entire railway bridges came loose and were pushed partway down riverbeds. Although it has been a few weeks since the hurricane, and temporary roads have been built to accomodate the traffic, it will still take an incredible amount of work and time before the region is repaired. Even then, some of the areas will likely be altered beyond repair. Rivers have altered course and now bypass the bridges that they were originally set to go under. We stopped in a small town in Chiapas to buy some water from a local vendor, and slowly more and more of the town emerged looking over the strange newcomers to town with the bikes. We bought some peanuts off of some street vendors and managed to get a picture of them. They seemed pretty surprised when they saw the image of themselves on the screen of the camera. Shortly before hitting the Guatemalan border we stopped again at a gas station to tank up and get a little breakfast (other than peanuts). Unfortunately the heat got to me a little bit and I started feeling really queasy. After a bout of sickness and a little rest in the shade, I felt a little better, and we all figured it would be best if we kept on our way towards the border. As soon as we got to the Guatemalan border we were swarmed by people wanting to exchange money, or show us around the town and what steps to take to get your paperwork done. It was all a little overwhelming and I was still not feeling the best. My first few minutes in Guatemala were spent yacking my guts out in the passport office. Unfortunately, that was pretty much the highlight of the border crossing experience! We got our passports stamped after I emerged from the washroom, and then moved to the next station which was something to do with immigration. We filled out a small form, paid some fees and were off to the next station. At the third station we had our bikes sprayed against insects. Oddly enough, insects must only be found on the underside of tires because that's the only place that they actually sprayed the bikes! Apparently the insects also don't stick to shoes, bicycles, stray dogs, donkeys, or taxis because they were all allowed through without "the dip". We paid again for that service...thankfully it was only 18 quetzals (aka 18 quesadillas for the Spanish illiterate), which is only about $3. Now we were off to get the import papers for the bikes. At our fourth stop, the import officer told us he'd be "right back after a bit of lunch" and "should" be back in an hour. We had to wait on a curb for two hours for him to return before we could go any further. Finally he returned, we filled out more paperwork again and we were on our way through Guatemala. Steve and Bill wanted to make it to Escuintla, and our goal was towards Guatemala City because we still needed tires, but it was starting to get a little later in the day and we decided it would be best to find a hotel before nightfall so we stopped in a nice city called Rehuetlan.