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Cindie's Travel Journal for Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico
Villahermosa Comitan, Mexico
(Oct. 12 - Nov. 7, 2002)

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Oct. 12 Villahermosa.  Good morning Villahermosa.  It is 4:30 am, we arrived almost 30 minutes ahead of schedule.  We arrived feeling tired and worn out.   Tim slept for about 2 hours and so did I .  At the bus station we have to wait until luggage storage opened at 7:00 am so we can go look for a room on our bikes.   We stored our luggage and went in search of a room.  It is hot and steamy, yikes, this is going to be fun weather to ride in.  We went to 6 different hotels and could not find an open room with an air conditioner.  There is no way I am staying in a room with just a fan.  A good nights sleep is worth paying for.  The room we found cost 250 pesos ($25.00), ouch, our most expensive room in Mexico.  We met Shaun from Canada.  A tree planter by trade with a passion for traveling.  We went to dinner together, carefully avoiding the local taco stands that sold tripe (cow stomach).  
Oct 13 Villahermosa. We went to La Venta today.  It is a combination of a zoo and an archeological park.  La Venta is where the famous Olmec Heads are located.  
Oct 14 Villahermosa. We needed to take care of business to day so we stayed around Villahermosa.  It is very hot 90ºF with 100% humidity.  I do not know how I am going to ride in this heat.  
Oct 15 Villahermosa. Still waiting for some mail from the United States.  
Oct 16 Villahermosa. Finally we took care of our business.  Now we can leave Villahermosa and get on the road.  
Oct 17 Villahermosa - Macuspana.  The first day back on the bike after 5 weeks off was difficult.  We left this morning about 8:00 am and it seemed like it was hot already.  We rode over the bridge out of town, the bridge even had a bike lane.  The road was flat for the first 6 miles and then it began to get rolling, around 10:00 in the morning a head wind kicked up.  It was in the 90s F and it was over 90% humidity.  I began to over heat quickly. We stopped and took a break after 15 miles.  I had a hard time cooling off.  We sat for about 30 minutes and then we decided to moved on and find the closest hotel.  It did not take long for me to get hot again.  I knew that I was having the beginning signs of heat stress.  At around 12:00 noon we stopped at the town of Macuspana.  I was extremely hot, flushed and  a bit disoriented.   We saw an auto hotel on the side of the road and decided to call it a day.   When we got to the hotel they asked us if we wanted to room for 3 hours.  Tim said no, I have a wife, I would like the whole night please.  We rode into the hotel and then into a covered parking area.  A women quickly closed a curtain behind us.   The room normally costs 140 pesos (US$14.00) for three hours and we paid 170 pesos (US$17.00) for the night.  When we got into the room I took a shower and cooled down some.  I had heat stress and was not feeling well.  Tim later told me that this kind of a hotel is called a love hotel.  It is where Mexican men meet their girlfriends on the side.  It is very discreet, the couple drives the car into a covered parking area adjacent to the room and a heavy curtain is quickly drawn behind.   I did not care what kind of hotel this was, I just needed to cool off.  The room was clean and even had air conditioning.  We slept for 4 hours in the afternoon and then went to sleep early.  We decided to get up at 5:00 am and try to beat the heat. 35 miles
Oct 18 Macuspana. - Palenque.  We started at the crack of dawn, a rare occurrence for us.  The riding was pleasant, cool and without any wind.  We covered 24 miles in the first hour and forty five minutes.  We took a break at a road side cafe frequented by truckers.  We asked where the next hotel was, the cafe owner said 20 kilometer (12 miles).  Good, I could stop in 12 miles easy.  We traveled the next 12 miles and realized that there was no hotel.  The people at the next snack stand told us the next hotel was in Palenque, 50 kilometers (30 miles) away.  I really did not want to ride 30 more miles but we had no choice, it is too hot to just pull over and camp, we needed a shower and at least a fan.  I have never sweated so much in my life.   Riding in the tropics is just the opposite of the desert.  When we stop in the desert even when it is very hot our body cools off because evaporative cooling works well in a dry heat.  In high humidity, I found that when we stopped my body temperature actually rose after we stopped.  I had beads of sweat every where. It takes a good 20 to 30 minutes for my body temperature to come down.  Since we had to keep moving we decided that we would ride an hour and then rest an hour.  In the heat of the day we rested longer.  Then the wind kicked up again, we had a head wind and it slowed our progress considerably.  I tucked in behind Tim and he pulled me all the way into Palenque.  We were within 10 miles of Palenque and I started to feel over heated again.  We slowed down, I kept my heart rate down and we managed to get into town.  We got to the edge of town and found the first reasonable hotel.  At least I did not have heat stress, just fatigued from being out of shape and working hard.  Wind and heat do not seem to effect Tim like it does me. I guess I could give him weight but he already has most of the weight.  Tim took care of me through the heat and made sure I did not get sick again. 60 miles
Oct 19 Palenque town to Palenque ruins.  We took our time packing today, yesterday was a tough day and I am glad that we do not have far to go to get to the Maya Bell Campground.  The heat is unbearable. It is ok if I sit in the shade and do not move but as soon as I exert myself I am covered in sweat.  Acclimation to this climate will take a while.  We loaded up, picked up some more groceries and headed to the Maya Bell.  A campground located 500 meters from the entrance to the Palenque ruins.  We set up our tent outside a palapa and rented some hammocks to hang out in.  The total cost was 70 pesos ($7.00).   The bathrooms are new and clean, the toilets do not have seats but what else is new.  The shower is hot, if you want to take a hot shower that is.  The atmosphere is mellow and feels like a gathering of hippies young and old.  It is interesting to see the real hippies of the 60's generation mixing with the young 20 something European crowd.  We are all here to see the ruins of Palenque.  I find it so odd that there are so few Americans on the backpackers trail.

We went to bed early because we were just exhausted.  We were woken up in the middle of the night by the famous howler monkeys.  I have not seen one but they sound like they are the size of a gorilla.  Tim got the sound on our camera.

Howler Monkey (sound only) calling outside our tent

Imagine that sound going on for 20 minutes.  We are truly in a foreign land.

5 miles
Oct 20 Palenque.  We went to the Palenque ruins today.  These ruins are awesome, the ruins are made of limestone but at the time of occupation were colored bright red.  Many of the temples are perched on limestone terraces.  The jungle has overtaken some of the temples and large trees can be seen growing out of the stairways.  My favorite building is the Palace.  A large structure in the middle of the plaza, that contains many courtyards, tower for viewing the winter solstice, rooms and even an sauna.   The Temple of Inscriptions was closed for construction, it is named for the many inscriptions located within the tomb inside the pyramid.  The day was extremely hot and very humid.  I was wilting in the heat while Tim just continued on.  After climbing the Temple of the Cross I did not want to climb anymore temples

When we were at the Temple of the Skull (Rabbit Skull, notice the teeth).  We met two American guys from New York City, Andy and Tom.   They are traveling around the world for the next year.  They started their trip on September 12th by flying to Los Angeles and crossing into Mexico in Tijuana.   I knew I liked Tom when our discussion turned to the toilet facilities in Mexico.   My question is, "Where are all the toilet seats in Mexico."  Tom said that just the evening before he had asked the hotel staff if he had a toilet seat, in Spanish.  I guess if you grow up with out one you just do not know what you are missing.  We finished viewing the ruins with Tom and Andy.  We all agreed that we would like to see more Americans out traveling.  We tried to encourage the two to come out to the Maya Bell and camp.

Oct 21 Maya Bell.  We stayed in camp today, a recovery day is nice.   We did laundry and other chores.  We met Rudy from Brussels, Belgium.   Rudy could speak five languages, Dutch, French, English, German, and some Spanish.   He explained to us that Belgium is the cross roads of Europe, where the people of the North near the sea predominantly speak Dutch and the people to the South predominantly speak French.  He speaks three languages at his job, Dutch, French and English.   Impressive, I can not imagine changing languages so much, it is such a gift to be able to communicate with many different people from many cultures.  
Oct 22 Palenque Ruins.  We went back to the ruins for a second day.   It was nice to explore some of the outer temples like Group C.  The temperatures were not as high so it was easier to climb up and down all the Temple steps.   We again visited the Palace, the Ball Court, the Northern Group and the Temple of Conde.   We learned that it was much cooler to be up on top of the temples where it we could get a cool breeze.

Andy and Tom came out to visit us at the Maya Bell. It was so good to talk to some one from the States.  They have quite an adventure planned themselves, they plan to tour the world over the next year.

Oct 23 Maya Bell. We stayed around camp again today.  We met a few of our neighbors and I stretched my Spanish even farther.  We talked about the problem of clean water and land in Mexico.  We also met a couple traveling from England with their two young children.  I can imagine the difficulties of traveling with children, it must be tiring at times.

Our plans for the next couple of days is to go to the ruins one last time and then start on our journey to Ocosingo on Friday morning.  We went into the town of Palenque to use the internet.  As we were coming out of the internet cafe I saw a man pushing a tandem and a women is close pursuit.  I immediately introduced myself and that is how we met Dave and Helene.  Dave is from England and Eileen is from France, they are both teachers who quit their jobs in London, England and have been touring on their tandem for the last 14 months.  They have ridden in India, China, Turkey and the US to name a few places.  They travel light and fast, their tandem looks like they are set up to go.  We had dinner with them and a beer.  They decided to store their tandem at our campsite when they went to the ruins the next day.

When we returned to the Maya Bell, Tony was out socializing.  Tony is living at the Maya Bell for the time being.  He has spent numerous hours exploring the many wonders of the Palenque ruins.  He started coming to the Maya Bell in the late 60s and early 70s.  Tony was born in the Yucatan, his grandfather owned many haciendas.   He was schooled in the US south, Georgia and then went to University in Mexico City.  He speaks fluent English with a bit of a southern twang.

OTT 24 We met Dave and Helene in the morning so they could store their bike at our camp.  We hoped to meet up with in the ruins today.

The jungle is a very different place then the dry southwest.  I accidentally left out vitamins for Tim and I to take and they blew up with humidity and fell apart in a matter of hours.  Our cloths never seem to dry unless they are in direct sunlight.  We washed some cloths yesterday afternoon and they were still wet this morning.  Consequently, the cloths smell a little like mildew.  A smell that brings back memories of the east coast for me.  In addition, the ants come to scavenge any morsel of food that has been dropped or left out.  The first day here Tim left out his coffee cup and it soon turned into an ant hill.  The worst part is those little buggers bite.  We drink liters upon liters of water and fruit juice, and still we sweat through our cloths.  The air is thick with heat and moisture.  This is a place that you need to move slow during the heat of the day.

We explored a different part of the ruins today and I would have to say my favorite place.  We spent hour gazing at the view from the Temple of Cruz Foliada.   Inside the temple is a stone carving with Pakal and his son Chan Bahlum.  The date is recorded with the Mayan hieroglyphic.  The detail of the craving is incredible, you can still see the outline of their finger nails.  We wandered over to the area that is under construction.  They are actually rebuilding some of the temples.  I can not imagine them putting them back they way they were.  I personally think that things should be left as they are.  Tony thinks that the construction is a cover up for people to rip the place off.  I could see that as well.  It seems that is the case when so many treasured items have come up missing or stone carved panels that were once in a temple are now gone, lost forever.

We decided to get something to eat out at the main entrance.  We were ready to return to the Maya Bell.  I was a bit sad, I know I will miss this place.  I was walking down a set of stairs near the Temple of Inscriptions and my foot came down on top of a rock. My ankle gave way and I actually heard my tendon rip. Double Yikes. I thought, was that my ankle I heard rip. I looked down at my ankle and it was swelled up with a big knot in a matter of minutes. I limped my way over to the food stands and Tim got me a big piece of ice to reduce the swelling.   He said that I should ice it, elevate it and compress it.  By this time the pain has kicked in my adrenaline was up and my blood sugar was down.  So tears were streaming out of eyes uncontrollably.  I hate when that happens. So I sat there with ice on my ankle until the chunk of ice was melted, at least it cooled me off too.  The women who gave Tim the ice came over and tenderly checked out my ankle.  I could tell she had done this before.  Then she gave me a couple of bananas so I would feel better. What a sweet jester.

I could have taken a taxi down the hill but I could not stand the thought of leaving these ruins by taxi. Stubborn, I can get. So we walked slowly back down all the steps through the jungle. As we were slowly descending through a ruin I looked down and saw a piece of building block on its side with the most beautiful hieroglyphs on it. Wow! I guess it pays to go slow. So I made the best of it I guess.

When we got back to camp I again iced my ankle, elevated it, that is easy to do in a hammock, and stayed off of it. Tim waited on me hand and foot, this part was not bad either. We decided to put off leaving for a day.  We were suppose to meet Dave and Helene but that was not possible.

Oct 25 Maya Bell.  What is one more day in a place that has been so comfortable.  It is hard for me to stay off my feet, but I do not want to be laid up for months.  My ankle is not bad and Tim keeps reminding me to keep it elevated.   I started to pack for tomorrows journey.  I am sad to be leaving but I do want to hit the road and ride to a higher elevation. I just wilt in this heat.  
Oct 26 Maya Bell to Misol-Ha.  We left the Maya Bell and headed towards Misol-Ha.  The road back to Palenque is rolling and pleasant.  As soon as we turned the corner towards Ocosingo we started to climb.  The nice thing about the jungle is that there is more shade then say in the desert.  I worked my way from one shady spot to the next, trying to cool off by riding slow in the shade.  I have decided that it is cooler to ride then to stop riding. As soon as we stop my body temperature goes way up and I begin to sweat out of every pore in my body.  I am glad we are not riding to far today.  We got to Misol-Ha in about 2.5 hours and I was happy to call it a day.  We got to camp by the waterfall.  It was a bit cooler.   We met people from all over the world including a couple from New Jersey.  She is getting her PhD in Geography and is studying the Indians that have been relocated from Chiapas to the Chetumul area on the Yucatan peninsula.. 16 miles
Oct 27 Misol-Ha to Aqua Azul.  We got an even earlier start then we thought, today is daylight saving and we got to turn our clock back an hour. No wonder the restaurant was not open early.  We headed out and were lucky to have an over cast day.  It seems that we climb and then descend into valleys and then climbed again.   We came across some construction and decided to stop at a little country store for some refreshments.

As always were are practicing our Spanish and I called what I thought was a chicken a gallena.  It turns out that it was to little to be called a gallena, it was a pollo.  We then learned that what we call a chick, they call a pollito (little chicken). Then I asked, (while pointing at the scrawny bird) in Spanish Is this a chicken, he said no that is a   turkey.  I must have looked like some confused person to them.  Then all of a sudden the little girl showed up with a big chicken and said, "Gallena".  She was so proud of her gallena, and she taught the gringa (foreign woman) a new Spanish word.

We had sufficiently cooled off and hit the road again.  Today is Sunday and we usually do not ride on Sunday but decided on this day to press on.  We again realized that Sunday can be a day of trouble in the country where the men like to get drunk.   We got a few stares and a few whistles but for the most part the locals were friendly.  We came around a corner and a group of 15 or so kids were standing around with a rope across the road.  Tim put his bike into high gear, I thought that he was going to ram one of those kids.  They dropped the rope, quickly and let us pass.   Tim was a little more than mad at me for not being right on his wheel.  How could I tell him he was acting like a mad man.  He then said that he was worried for our safety. He then explained, seven years ago while he was traveling alone in this same region, a couple of kids pull a rope across the road and he stopped.  When he stopped several very drunk men jumped out and demanded drinking money.  He refused and in the struggle to get away, one hit him in the head with a machete (the flat side not the sharp side), good thing he had his helmet on.  Tim said that this was the scariest moment he has ever had while bike touring.  Of course, it was a Sunday then and they were all drunk.  OK next time, I will stay on Tim's wheel.

As we got closer to Agua Azul there were more venders on the side of the road.   The little kids were calling us gringos.  I was called a gringa for the first time in Mexico.  Then the next word out of their mouth was peso por regalo.   Gift Money.  Yikes.  These people think we have so much money that we give it away as a gift.  I personally do not like to be looked at as a money tree.   Obviously other foreign people have gone before us and given these people money.  Free money is not the way to help these people.  I bought some bananas and oranges but I will not ever ever give anyone money.

We made it to Agua Azul, we again skated through another rope road block and even had two different dog chases.  We met George and Joyce from Clear water Florida..   An interesting couple who are looking to retire in Mexico.

30 miles
Oct 28 Agua Azul. We relaxed and swam today.  I got to read a book most of the day, not a common occurrence.  I read Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain. Yes, I read it as a kid but it is just as fun the second time around.  
Oct 29 Agua Azul to Ocosingo.  We got up early this morning to start our climb up to Ocosingo.  We are at about 200 meters (656 feet) and Ocosingo is at 900 meters (2,952).  The climb was not a steady up hill but more of a climb then a descent and then another climb and another descent.

We stopped for what we planned was lunch.  It was hot and we immediately went for an ice cream.  As we were sitting near the store eating our ice cream a man who was obviously drunk came by and went up to Tim and asked him for money.  Tim politely said, "No".  The man was getting obnoxious and getting in Tim's face.  Tim politely asked him to go away and still the man asked for money. Tim was calmly sitting there but had enough so he stood up and looked down at him with a hint of domination. The drunk man realized that Tim was much larger than him and he staggered off.  You would think that his three friends would have learned from this but no.  In another couple of minutes another drunk man came over and asked for money.  Again, Tim had to ask him to leave.  Mean while another man showed up with what looked like a bottle of home made liquor and we were left alone.  Another man at the store was embarrassed about the whole ordeal but warned us that they would be back as soon as the bottle was finished.  We finished our snack quickly and headed down the road.

 The riding was slow but at least a little cooler. I am starting to think that we need to drop some of this weight we have.   I am carrying things I do not really need.  It is time to lighten the load.   I happen to be carrying crayola crayons for kids and I decided to hand them all out today.  Tim said, "Hey that was fun we should get some more". No we shouldn't.  The kids really did appreciate them. These kids do not have much, they run around bare foot without many toys.  We gave a pack of crayons to a couple of young girls selling pop corn and potato chips.  They did not know what they were.   They were hoping it was lip stick.  Then when we showed them how to color on the back of one of our printed Flyers they clapped their hands and had great smiles.  They both said, "gracious" (thank you).  Tim said these girls should not be out selling things on the street.   They should be home coloring.  I agreed.  How lucky we are to live in a country where the children do not have work at such a young age.

Ocosingo finally arrived in our sights and in the nick of time, it started to rain.  Ocosingo is a small Mexican/Indian town.  In 1994, the Zapatistas, a group of rebels who want land for the indigenous people, took over the town.  Consequently, the Mexican military came in and took the town back with force.  A massacre of about 25 people occurred here.  It gives this town a sad and eerie feeling.

38 miles
Oct 30 Ocosingo.  Rest day.  I am pretty beat.  We decided to catch up on the web page and email today. The plan is to go to Tonina, a Maya ruin near here, tomorrow.   Tonina conquered Palenque and brought the city to its demise.  We plan to stay in this area for day of the dead.  I see costumes in the shops and ugly masks for sale.  I hope to see the candy they make special for the Day of the Dead.  We stayed in Hotel San Jose for 140 pesos ($140), not such a great place to stay, they say they have hot water but we have to ask for it and it really is luke warm.  
Oct 31 Ocosingo.  We packed a lunch to go to the Tonina ruins today.   While I was getting water out of the water cooler I saw a man taking a mountain bike with racks out of his room.  I went over and said hello in Spanish and then asked if he spoke English.  He said yes.  That is how we met Frank and Monica from Switzerland.  We were the first bike tourists they met since they began touring four months earlier in Tijuana, Mexico.  We reviewed each other routes and talked about the sights along the way.  Then Frank asked me what I did and I said I was a geologist.  He got a funny look on his face and he said, I am a geologist too. It turns out that he did the same kind of work that I did only he lived in Orange County, California.  He had quite his job and was heading back to Switzerland.  His wife, Monica worked as a teacher while in California.  Wow what parallel lives.   They had to get moving so they packed up and headed towards Palenque.  We wished them luck and went to the market to catch a combi (van) to the ruins. 

Just as we were arriving at the ruins it began to rain.  We spent a good amount of time in the museum hoping that it would stop raining.  The place was empty.  Then a tour group came in and we immediately recognized the American accent.  They had a guide with them so we listen to her introduction for a while.  This ruin has only recently been excavated.  About 20 years the whole area was covered in jungle.  She also said that this city-state was the longest inhabited Mayan ruin.  We walked around the museum and all the sandstone statues were of kneeling people with their hands tied behind their back and is most cases their heads were missing.  This particular city-state was dedicated to war.  All the frescos were of guards, captives and beheadings.   Sadly I learned that they conquered Palenque and beheaded Pakals second son (whose name I do not know).  We moved on to the ruins and we were joined by the group of Americans and their guide.  Tim said that we should not cheese in on their guide but I could not resist and they group really did not mind.  We first went inside a temple, a place that the high priest were taught.  The inside of this temple was a labyrinth of hall ways and a map of the maze was carved in rock and placed at the entrance of the temple.  The guide said that the theory was that the priest wandered around the maze in the dark because the inside walls did not show any evidence of soot from smoke on the ceilings.

We then climbed the stairs to the next level.  Their are seven levels to this ruin.  It must have been a really grand but terrifying place.  We steadily made our way to the top over slippery rocks.  I was crossing from one area to another and before I new it I slipped on a mossy area and my feet flew out from under me.  Down I went, right in front of Tim.  Tim's first question was, "Did you hurt your ankle again".  I said, "No, I am all right, I just skinned up my elbow".   Tim also said, "OK Cindie, that is two for two" (two ruins and two falls).  I said, " Really I am not a klutz".  Tim thinks that I just get all caught up in the ruins and stop thinking about what I am doing.  Well maybe.

By the time we got to the sixth level it was really raining.  We all made our way back down slowly.  A women from Fresno, California was having a hard time with all the slick steps so Tim helped her down.  When we returned to the museum we were all wet and feeling like drowned rats.  We caught a combi (van) back to Ocosingo.  A little girl sat near us and could not help but stare at us.  That ok we were staring back.  She was definitely of Mayan decent.  Here profile was exactly the same as the men in the stone carvings.  The Mayans are not gone, they are right here.

Later in the evening we watched the local children run around town in Halloween costumes.   Tomorrow is the day of the dead.

Nov 1 Ocosingo. Day of the Dead.  We went to the cemetery today to see what was going on.  The place felt more like a fiesta then a cemetery.  They place flowers on the grave along with pine needles and candles.  The family gathers around the grave site.  We did not take any pictures, we felt to uncomfortable for that.  We started to get bothered by a number of drunk men so we decided it was time to leave.  
Nov 2 Ocosingo. Day of the Dead.  This is the big day for Day of the Dead.   The town was quiet because everyone was at the cemetery.  Everyone was there from Grandma and Grandpa to cousins and nieces and nephews.  The women were dressed nicely, the kids were flying kites and the men were drinking.  We were invited to visit a family and we actually sat on the grave of their mother.  They did not mind they were sitting there to.  Mexicans look at death so differently then we do.   People were not sad but more like somber.  The kids were well behaved and seemed to be enjoying the party like atmosphere.  Venders lined the main walkway into the cemetery.  I tried some popcorn, ice cream and what I thought were olives turned out to be pickled cherries.  We stayed for awhile with the Ramirez family, they began to eat their lunch and we decided to leave.  We did not want to but in any more then we had.

We spent the rest of the day fixing various things and looking for plane tickets on the internet.

Nov 3 Ocosingo. We decided a couple of days ago not to ride during the Day of the Dead and Sunday because the men tend to drink more during fiestas and Sundays.   So we decided to go back to Tonina and explore the Mayan ruins a little more.  I am going to miss our student cards that we got in Guanajuato when we were studying Spanish. We got into every museum and archeological site for free after that.  We would also go on Sundays when it is free for everyone.  I will miss those student cards and free Sundays in the rest of Central America.  We spent the rest of the day packing to leave early in the morning.  
Nov 4 Ocosingo - La Ilusion.  We took the road to Comitan via Altamirano.   The first 10 kilometers were rolling and then we started to climb, the climbs were mostly short but very steep.  We stopped at the town Altamirano for lunch.  We had a very tasty lunch for a reasonable price.  We were planning to rest a little after lunch but our bikes got mobbed by a crowd of Indian children.  They were pulling and yanking on every thing and at the same time they were asking for pesos.   The owner of the restaurant chased them off once but they came back.  We decided to move on.  The road continued to climb up.  We went through a series of switch backs that were so steep I had to stand to keep going.  After that climb we both wanted to look for a place to camp.  We have climbed 2000 feet today and my legs felt it.  We topped a ridge and descended slightly into a valley.  What a beautiful valley, the grass was green and thick, the kind you would find on a golf course.   The pine trees were tall, healthy and smelled wonderful.  We saw a gate in a fence so we pushed our bikes through and found a wonderful place to camp.  It appeared at the time that the pasture was empty.  As we were resting after our ride we heard some rustling in the bushes.  Tim said, "Look at those birds over there".  I looked and out of the bush ran three little piglets.  They were the cutest little things.  One was brown, one was black and the other was white.   They were running all over the place, I'm guessing they were looking for mama because she never did appear.  Later in the afternoon we were also joined by horses and cows with bells on their necks. 

As we were eating dinner a man came walking by.  He looked like he could have been from Hannibal, Missouri (I have just finished reading Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain).  He was wearing a home made straw hat, a checkered cotton shirt and gray pants with the cuffs rolled up to mid calf.   He was also barefoot. The only thing missing was a piece of straw in his mouth.   He was friendly and spoke some Spanish. He did not have a problem with us camping in the pasture.

30 miles
Nov 5 La Ilusion - Comitan.  The night was clear and cool we could see the stars through our tent.  In the morning the air was thick with fog and everything including our tent with out the fly was covered in heavy dew.  As we packed three more gentlemen came by to visit.  They asked us the normal questions and then we left.  We did some more climbing today but not much, it was mostly rolling or downhill.  My legs were happy about that.  We stopped for a snack at a store and sat with a group of locals.  I could not tell if they were speaking an Indian dialect or Spanish.  It sounded like a combination of both.  The Indian dialect sounded similar to Navajo.  The women were dressed in beautiful shirts with a brightly colored flower design around the neck.  Their skirts had multi-colored horizontal strips made of ribbon from the waist to about mid thigh, then the skirt was white until the bottom. The skirt was always finished off with a ribbon.  The women would also wear ribbon braided into their hair and that ribbon matched the ribbon on their skirts.   Each tribe has a distinctive dress.  This part of Mexico resembles Guatemala more than the rest of Mexico.  It would have been nice to get a picture but it would have been a very rude thing to do.

We came to Comitan and found that we had to climb a pretty steep hill to get to the main plaza.  At one point is was so steep I had to get off my bike and push it up. Tim rode up it, no problem.  Comitan is a pretty little colonial town with cobble stone streets a many churches.   We stayed at Hospedeja Montebella, the old Lonely Planet book said it cost US$5 per night, it actually cost US$14 per night

32 miles
Nov 6 Comitan.  We spent the day in Comitan tying up loose ends.   Tim wrote his "Final Weeks in Mexico" letter and I went to the bank and the internet. 

For the first time in 7 months Tim needed to true his rear wheel.  We found a bike shop with a modern Park truing stand which is common in the United States.  When Tim went to the shop and asked to use the truing stand the man at the shop said that it was not for public use.  Tim eventually offered him $US5 for the use of his truing stand and he brought his own spoke wrench.  Still he said no.  (For a business savvy Indiana Boy this is inconceivable.)  Tim then asked him if  he could pay him to true his wheel.  His answer was no.  He sent Tim to a department store.  Tim then said to him in Spanish. "What kind of a business does not take money?" Perplexing.  Tim went to another shop and said that the truing stand that they had was the same as an antique truing stand from China that was in a bike shop he once worked at.  The owner kept it in a glass case and said that it was at least 50 years old.

Tim also got another hair cut for crossing the border.  It is more of military style cut. That mans hair grows faster than anyone I know. We wanted to present a good appearance at the border, we do not want the border officials to think that we are hippies and search us for drugs.  Getting searched would be a time consuming process and a bit inconvenient.

Nov 7 Comitan, Mexico to La Mesilla, Guatemala.  It is 87 kilometers to the border between Mexico and Guatemala and considering the pace we have been keeping we thought that it would take two days to reach the border.  It turns out that almost the entire stretch was down hill.  We were heading down hill again and we thought that we would be back in the steamy jungle.  Wrong again.  We dropped down into more of a desert with cactus and some tropical plants.  The bonus for the day was that it was stormy so at the top of the descent it was cloudy and almost cold.  At the bottom of the descent it was more humid but still cool.  We stopped for a good lunch of carne asada, our last in Mexico.  We rode on and enjoyed the entire ride it was either down hill or slightly up hill.  Nothing like the grades we have been riding in the mountains of Chiapas.  I knew this would not last long because as we got closer to the border I could see rugged mountain peaks looming ahead.

We were at the Immigrations office at around 2:30 in the afternoon.  We had stayed in Mexico 179 of our 180 allotted days.  I'd say we cut that a little close.  We still had 4 kilometers to go to the border crossing, the most uphill of the day.  We arrived at the Immigrations for Guatemala and Tim went in to get our passports stamped while I watched the bikes.  Usually they give a 30 day tourist card if you want more they will usually give you 60 days.  Tim brought a flyer about our trip in and the Immigration Office gave us 90 days.  That flyer has paid off many times.

I looked at a couple of cheap hotels and they were nasty beyond belief.  Smelly toilets and questionable bedding.  I can not stay in a place like that.  So we got a room at Hotel Mily, 120 quetzals (US 18) ouch!. The most expensive hotel in town and the most secure.  Since we are in a border town I felt more secure behind a locked gate with a guard dog.  Tim and I are both on high alert in places like this.   We will have to make up for this little splurge with some camping.

Some interesting new things in Guatemala include an electric hot water heating device that is located between the water pipe and the shower head.  Scary looking.  Tim is confused about the outlet voltage.  The guide book says 220 V and the hotel owner says it is 110 V.  It does not matter they have brown outs here.  A brown out is when you have less than full power and the lights dim.  We are now using Quetzals and not Pesos.  The exchange rate officially is 7.8 quetzals per 1 US dollar.  We got 7 quetzals to 1 US dollar from the money changers.  We hope that our Visa ATM card works in this country like it did in Mexico. We will find out tomorrow.

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Close up of Olmec head.

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Excellent bike lane (path) on a busy bridge Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico

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Our camp at the Maya Bell palapa area

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The temple in the far background is the Temple of Inscriptions.

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Temple of Inscriptions, where the Tomb of Pakal is located.

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Misol-Ha Waterfall.

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Tim and Cindie Travis all loaded up.

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Agua Azul is a great place to swim.

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Tim enjoying a beer and practicing his Spanish.

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Back on the road.





INDEX #1: North and Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03

1North and
Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03

2 South America
6-3-03 to 6-17-04

3 SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to

4 Australia
9-15-06 to 9-15-07

5 New Zealand
9-16-07 to 5-2-08
6 Alaska, Canada, and the USA
5-3-08 to 4-30-10
7 India. Nepal, and the Subcontinent
5-1-10 to present

(see all 3 book)

(Before March 30, 2002)
Life in Prescott Arizona, USA

Cindie's Daily Journals
Life in Prescott Arizona

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Good bye Letter

Other essays by Tim
About Us
Our Bicycle Wedding
Riding In Prescott
Hiking in Arizona
Favorite Bike Movies
The Great Zorr Dog
Life in a $500 RV
The Plan
Good bye Letter


(March 30 - May 12, 2002)
The State of Arizona, USA
Prescott to Douglas, Arizona

Cindie's Daily Journals
Cindie's Journal in Arizona, USA

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Our first week Down the Road!
Enjoying Arizona
Heading into Mexico

Other essays by Tim
The Day We Left
Lost Dutchman Mine
Ghost Towns
Chiricahua National Monument
Portal Arizona
Backpacking in the Chiricahua Mountains
Apache Wars

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page for Arizona Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Pictures from the first day
- Arizona Photo Page #1 Prescott AZ - Tucson AZ
- Lost Dutchman State Park
- Arizona Photo Page #2 Tucson AZ - Tombstone AZ
- San Xavier Mission
- Arizona Photo Page #3 Tombstone AZ to Portal AZ 
- Tombstone Arizona
- Ghost Towns in Arizona 
- Chiricahua National Monument
- Portal Arizona
- Chiricahua Wilderness Area Backpack (Trek)


(May 13 - 31, 2002)
The States of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico
Agua Prieta to Cuauhtemoc, Mexico

Cindie's Daily Journals
The States of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Greetings from Mexico!

Other essays by Tim
The Problems with the Border Area Between Mexico and the USA
Paquime Ruins Casas Grandes, Mexico
Barranca del Cobre or Copper Canyon

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Sonora and Chihuahua, Mexico Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Mexico #1 Photo Page   Agua Prieta to Zaragoza, Mexico
- Paquime Ruins - Casas Grandes, Mexico
- Mexico #2 Photo Page    Zaragoza to Col. Alvaro Obregon, Mexico
- The Mennonites of Chihuahua, Mexico
- Mexico #3 Photo Page 
- Barranca del Cobre or Copper Canyon Photo Page


(June 1 - July 17, 2002)
The States of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, Mexico
Zacatecas to Guanajuato, Mexico

Cindie's Daily Journals
The States of Zacatecas and Guanajuato, Mexico

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Hello Guanajuato
Adios Guanajuato

Other essays by Tim
One Fine Day Down The Road
Learning Spanish at Casa Mexicana in Guanajuato, Mexico
Cindie's Car Crash: a Mexican Experience Guanajuato, Mexico

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Zacatecas and Guanajuato Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Zacatecas, Mexico
- Central Mexico #1  Zacatecas to Ojuelos, Mexico
- One Fine Day Down The Road  State of Zacatecas, Mexico
- Central Mexico #2 Zacatecas to Guanajuato, Mexico
- Dolores Hidalgo, the Home of the Mexican War of Independence
- Guanajuato and the Mexican War of Independence
- Guanajuato, Mexico #1
- Guanajuato, Mexico #2
- Mineral Museum of the University of Guanajuato


(July 18 - Aug 22, 2002)
The State of Michoacan, Mexico
Guanajuato to Toluca, Mexico

Cindie's Daily Journals
The State of Michoacan, Mexico

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
The Great Secret of Michoacan!

Other essays by Tim
Into the Mist State of Michoacan, Mexico

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Michoacan, Mexico Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Guanajuato to   Penjamillo, Mexico
- Penjamillo to Patzcuaro, Mexico
- Patzcuaro, Mexico
- Patzcuaro to Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan, Mexico
- Morelia, Mexico
- Into the Mist Mexican highway 15
- Cuidad Hidalgo, Michoacan, to Toluca, Mexico
- Toluca, Mexico
- The Velodrome in Toluca, Mexico


(Aug. 23 - Sept. 17, 2002)
The States of Mexico and Morelos, Mexico
Toluca to Amecameca, Mexico

Cindie's Daily Journals
The States of Mexico and Morelos

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
So Close to Mexico City Yet So Far From Anything

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of The States of Mexico and Morelos, Mexico Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Toluca to Chalma, Mexico
- Malinalco, Mexico
- Chalma to Amecameca, Mexico
- Cuernavaca, Mexico
- Amecameca
- September 16 Mexican Independence Day
- Various Extra Pictures


(September 18 - 27, 2002)
Mexico City Area
Including the ruins of Teotihuacan

Mexico City, Mexico

Cindie's Daily Journals
Mexico City Area

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Six Months Down the Road

Other essays by Tim
Looking Deep Into the Eyes of a Thief Mexico City Metro (subway)
The Velodrome in Mexico City

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Mexico City Area Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Mexico City
- National Palace and Zocalo
- The Velodrome (bicycle track) in Mexico City
- The Ruins of Teotihuacan #1
- The Ruins of Teotihuacan #2
- Xochimilco
- Mexico City Zoo
- National Museum of Anthropology


(Oct.  12 - Nov. 8, 2002)
The States of Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico
Villahermosa, Tabasco to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico

Cindie's Daily Journals
The States of Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Our Final Weeks in Mexico

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Tabasco and Chiapas, Mexico Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Museum La Venta and the Olmec Heads Villahermosa, Tabasco, Mexico
- Villahermosa, Tabasco  to Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico
- Palenque #1 Photo Picture Page
- Palenque #2 Photo Picture Page
- Misol-Ha Waterfall Chiapas, Mexico
- Agua Azul Chiapas, Mexico
- Tonina Mayan Ruins Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico
- Mexico's Day of the Dead Ocosingo, Chiapas, Mexico
- Ocosingo to Cuauhtemoc Chiapas, Mexico


(Dec 2 - 15, 2002)
Guatemala #1: The Highlands
Quetzaltenango to Antigua

Cindie's Daily Journals
Guatemala #1 The Highlands

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Guatemala: Riding Through the Highlands

Guatemala: From Paradise to Despair

Other Pages Tim Made
Escuela de Idioma Español Utatlan, Spanish Immersion School in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Guatemala #1 Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- La Mesilla to Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
- The Indigenous Highland Village of San Andreas Xecul
- Climbing the Volcano Santa Maria.
- Quetzaltenango, Guatemala
- Quetzaltenango to Antigua, Guatemala.
- San Pedro la Laguna Lago (Lake) Atitlan, Guatemala
- Lago (Lake) Atitlan Santa Cruz to San Marcos Hike
- More San Pedro Photos Photo Page


(Dec. 16, 2002 - Jan. 6, 2003)
Guatemala #2: Northeast Towards the Caribbean
Antigua to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala

Cindie's Daily Journals
Guatemala #2
: Heading Northeast Towards the Caribbean

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Antigua, Guatemala to the Sea

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Guatemala #2 Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- The Colonial City of Antigua, Guatemala. #1
- The Historical City of Antigua, Guatemala. #2
- The Active Volcano Pacaya, Near Antigua
- Antigua to Puerto Barrios, Guatemala
- The Mayan Ruins of Tikal, Guatemala
- Livingston, Guatemala


(January 7 - 31, 2003)
From the Guatemalan Border to the Nicaraguan Border

Cindie's Daily Journals

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Honduras: From the Guatemalan Border to the Nicaraguan Border

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Honduras Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Honduras: The Border to Comayagua, Honduras
- Omoa, Honduras and Fortaleza de San Fernando de Omoa
- Parque Nacional Cero Azul Meambar, Honduras Page #1
- Parque Nacional Cero Azul Meambar, Honduras Page #2
- Comayagua to Tegucigalpa, Honduras
- Tegucigalpa, Honduras to the Border with Nicaragua
- Odds and Ends


(Feb. 1 - 19, 2003)
From the Honduras Border to the Costa Rican Border

Cindie's Daily Journals

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Nicaragua: Travels Through a Troubled Land

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Nicaragua Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Nicaragua: The Honduras border to Esteli, Nicaragua
- Esteli, Nicaragua:  the Stronghold of the Sandinista
- Esteli to Granada, Nicaragua
- Granada, Nicaragua #1
- Granada, Nicaragua #2
- Volcano Masaya - Near Managua, Nicaragua
- Granada, Nicaragua to the Costa Rican Border
- Isla / Island Ometepe, Lake Nicaragua
- Ernie, The Entertainer from Jamaica


(Feb. 21 - March 14, 2003)
Costa Rica #1
La Cruz to Rancho Mastatal, Costa Rica

Cindie's Daily Journals
Costa Rica #1

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Costa Rica #1 (incomplete)

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Costa Rica #1 Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Nicaraguan Border to Playa Tamarindo
- Liberia, Guancaste, Costa Rica.
- Playa Tamarindo
to Playa Samara
- Playa Samara to Playa Jaco
- Manuel Antonio National Park #1
- Rancho Mastatal, Costa Rica #1
- Rancho Mastatal, Costa Rica #2


(March 15 - April 10, 2003)
Costa Rica #2
Manual Antonio to Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica

Cindie's Daily Journals
Costa Rica #2

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Costa Rica #2 (incomplete)

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Costa Rica #2 Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Parque National Manuel Antonio, #2
- City of Santa Elena and Monteverde
- Butterfly Garden, Santa Elena, Monteverde
- Finca Ecological, Monteverde
- Frog Pond (Ranario), Santa Elena
- Santa Elena, Cloud Forest, National Park
- Sky Walk, Suspension Bridge, Canopy Tour
- Sky Trek Zip Line, Canopy Tour
- Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve


(April 12 - 17, 2003)
Panama City, Panama

Cindie's Daily Journals

Tim's Emailed Newsletters (Join  List)
Panama (Incomplete)

Best Place to see Pictures
Thumbnail Page of Panama Pictures

Full size Picture Pages

- Panama City #1
- Panama City #2
- Panama Canal

1North and
Central America
3-30-02 to 4-17-03

2 South America
6-3-03 to 6-17-04

3 SE Asia / China
11-22-04 to

4 Australia
9-15-06 to 9-15-07

5 New Zealand
9-16-07 to 5-2-08
6 Alaska, Canada, and the USA
5-3-08 to 4-30-10
7 India. Nepal, and the Subcontinent
5-1-10 to present
Where am I  now

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