Live the adventures of Dan Walker's travels through reading his travel journal. The travel journals are listed below in descending order of date. To search the travel journals, use the keyword search at the bottom of the page.
|Saturday, January 15, 2011 05:28:33|
Rolls Alaska to Argentina & back: 10 Cosamaioapan, Mexico to Puerto Quezal, Guatemala
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
*Miles for the day: 125 (201 km) Miles to date: 6,457 (10,392 km)*
It was a relaxed morning, as we don't plan to go far today. We gathered up drying laundry, had a leisurely breakfast and drove out of town skipping the money exchange. When we passed the car wash everyone gave us a big wave.
We took some back roads through smaller towns, but most had no accommodation and did not look at all interesting, so we returned to the toll road and drove to the City of Coatzacoalcos. The toll road wasn't bad most of the way, but about a quarter of the distance it was pretty rough going.
We followed main roads inside the city, a large petroleum centre, until we had no idea where we were. A taxi driver beside us was asking about the car at a traffic light, so I asked him where the hotel area was. He said to follow him. He led us to the six lane road that runs between a long, sandy beach and the city, eventually arriving at the Hotel Fiesta. He wanted nothing for guiding, and gave us his phone number, saying to call if we needed anything.
After settling in and sending some cleaning to the hotel laundry we drove back down the beach road, stopping at an excellent restaurant for lunch. The service was amazing - two waitresses watched over us, topping up our beer every time the glass was half empty and ensuring every need was met. We then drove to the end of the road in the port area, where we came to a district with about three blocks loaded with bars. We'd have loved to do a pub crawl here, but could find no secure place to leave the car, so returned to the hotel where Vic walked down the beach while I got some work done. Dinner consisted of snacks in the hotel bar.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
*Miles for the day: 334 (538 km) Miles to date: 6,791 (10,929 km)*
Neither of us slept well, so were up at 5 AM and hit the road after a not great hotel breakfast. Rain was pouring down and the wind howled in front the sea. Side roads were rivers pouring water across the beach road in torrents half the height of the wheels in depth. We found our way out of town with the desk clerk's directions and although we were concerned the car may stall in the deep water she never missed a beat. There was work in progress on the a we had to cross, which had traffic backed up for a long way, but we got through and left the city on bad roads.
Toll road the road was mostly good with rough patches. Initially the road was through flat farmland, then rain forest and finally we were crossing hills up to 1,050 meters (3,444 ft) on winding road until descending sharply to the west coast - it is a pretty area. Skies were now blue, but the wind was gusting stronger than ever.
After we arrived in Tapachula we went in search of the Comfort Inn I had located on the internet, which we found with the help of friendly locals. The afternoon was hot, so soon after checking into the hotel we were in the pool, with cold beer being delivered to a poolside table. We made use of the internet to get caught up, and had a reasonable meal poolside. We are told the border to Guatemala doesn't open until 7PM, so we'll have breakfast at the hotel then head for Ciudad Hidalgo to cross into Guatemala.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
*Miles for the day: 191 (307 km) Miles to date: 6,982 (11,236 km)*
Started easy, got lost once on the way to the border, then again in Ciudad Hidalgo, the frontier town of Mexico, where some locals guided us to a gas station to fill up with the relatively cheap Mexican gas. That used the rest of my pesos up, and Vic changed his at a roadside money changer near the border. When we moved the car this morning there was a pool of power steering fluid under it. It had a slow leak in the system for awhile, but last night it drained, so it we had armstrong steering, makes driving much harder work.
The guys who showed us the gas station appointed themselves our guides through the border process out of Mexico and into Guatemala. It wasn't really necessary, but it was handy to have them run for photocopies and to know which window to go to next. The only hitch was Guadamala customs not believing that part of the BC government insurance document was the registration. It took a long time to convince them, particularly as he had a Quebec registration on file that was totally different, but eventually everything was done after about an hour and a quarter. There was no one else going through the border at the time, confirming that the secondary route was a good choice. We found out the border had actually opened at 5 AM.
Highway 2, the second most important highway in Guatemala after the Pan American, was in horrible condition. We averaged 20-25 mph (32-40 kpm) for the first few hours, sometimes just crawling along. I thought Mexico was bad for speed bumps, but in Guatemala they are bigger and even more frequent - sometimes only a few feet apart. No matter how slow I go over them, even at an angle, the passage is accompanied by the sound of the bottom of the car scraping on cement. About 20 miles (32 km) before Esquitos we hit divided highway for the first time. It was in relatively good shape, with the odd awful stretch that kept us on our toes.
After Esquitos we hit a marvellous stretch of good divided highway, which we thought was the road to El Salvador, but after about an hour of cruising along at our normal highway speed it ended at Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala's principal port. We crawled for miles over closely spaced speed bumps looking for a hotel, first up the coast past Puerto San Jose, then down the coast the opposite way until we came to hotel I'd found on Google Earth. It looked OK, but Marcos, the fellow in charge, said the bad news was that it was closed for remodelling. After talking to the owner he had a cabin made up for us, even though there were no towels of blankets. They did have mattresses and sheets, and found a fan. The price was $60, higher than most good hotels, but after fighting manual steering all day I wasn't going any further. Fortunately we ate lunch late so didn't need dinner. One thing they did have was ample mosquitoes!