We didn’t intend to be riding into Guatemala City on Good Friday, but here we are. The streets are empty. It’s like Anchorage on Labor Day weekend. All the shops are shuttered. Our hopes of finding bike boxes dashed. We come up with Plan B, then Plan C.
There’s a strip of land between Central and South America called the Darian Gap. There’s not an established road here. The two continents aren’t connected. An Internet search tells me things like the US and Panamanian governments don’t want a road here because of foot and mouth disease, or to stop deforestation. All sound plausible, but I feel like there’s more to the story. It’s 2016. If someone wanted a road, it would be built. Roads go everywhere now, it seems. Except through the Darian Gap.
In researching our trip, I read romantic accounts of sailing around the Gap through the San Blas islands. It was cheaper than flying. The truth is, I have terrible motion sickness. Small boats and planes are the worst. The other truth is that it is now the same cost to sail as it is to fly.
The last truth is that we’re drawn to the wide open spaces of the Andes. Central America is intriguing, but crowded. We’re not leaving because we’re afraid. We talk about coming back on foot, buying a burro to carry our gear. It would take another four or five months to see Central America on the back roads we relish.
We have a finite amount of time and a finite amount of money. We plan to use it all up in the cooler climes of the high Andes.
So, we’re cruising Guatemala City on Good Friday, looking for bike boxes. We give up our search, find a place to stash the bikes and take off on foot.
We watch religious processions, preceeded by processions of vendors. It’s a somber event, interspersed with carnival food. It’s like Mardi Gras, but no one’s throwing beads and the only drunks seem to be in Chinese restaurants, tables covered with ballenas.
Ideas percolate in our head over night. In the morning, we source a few items then ride to the airport.
We turn this
into this, and we’re on our way.
Ahorita o nunca.