We should know by now, the locals know shit about time and distance. For one thing they don’t travel very much and secondly it isn’t that important here. So when we were heading from Poptun to Lanquin through the heart of Guatemala on dirt roads it was under the assumption that the 275 km could be done in an afternoon. Boy, we were wrong – again.

As soon as we turned off the main road we were driving on gravel and stones trying to avoid the giant potholes. The scenery was beautiful with jungle covered bobble hills and tall corn fields. Once in a while we rolled through a Maya village where the dubious looks turned into broad smiles if we managed to wave to them before we lost control of the bikes. The women were dressed in classics Mayan fashion, a thick skirt and a squared transparent top which a peek to the bra. The men stick to cowboy hats, giant belt buckle and one front tooth.

The travel times we were informed varied from one to five hours for the whole trip. After five and a half we arrived halfway. We asked again and different times were told. From now on the soft hills got character and the potholed road was now mostly just giant rocks with the edge as neighbour. We kept going and hardly had time to enjoy the gorgeous views over the green mountainsides. As the road narrowed in we drove into overhanging branches while fighting for the space with homecoming farmers with huge machetes, kids, chickens, stray dogs and busses.

We asked for direction (well more distance, since there was only one road) as often as we could and got as many answers. Anything from 10 minutes, to 25 km to the classic five hours. At dusk we arrived at a bigger settlement (they had an intersection) and was send in the wrong direction. When we then were send back in the right direction we couldn’t understand how far we had to go.

A bright head in the crowd though it might be wise to bring in the only other gringos in town, two American Peace Corp volunteers. The young lady taught in the village school was a bit surprised to get visitors, though she had heard the locals talking about the strangers in town. Some though we were drug couriers, for who else would drive these road at night. Well, we weren’t, we were just send in the wrong direction. A phone call to village priest, and we could sleep at the church.
Jerome and Kelsey, the Peace Corps teachers

The next day we continued, this time in the right direction. The first couple of kilometers were some of the worst road we had driven on (but worse will come later), so it was pretty lucky we hadn’t continued in the night. But we finally arrived in Lanquin after eleven hours of driving totally… for 275 km.
The reason we always check our boots in the morning