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Tue Sep 17 2013: *Braaping* in the Guatemalan Alps

From Coban, we are going to be journeying westwards through the mountainous department of Quiche - not named after the food, it's pronounced Kee-Chay after the Mayan dialect Ki'Che' so popular in this region. And there's no quiche in this entry either...

No drybag and topcase means less weight on the back of the bike.
Mac and Cheese and Huevos con Salsa means more weight in the middle of the bike...

Single-lane construction zone, uphill in the dirt, facing an oncoming bus too large to squeeze past...

...So we pull off into the shoulder and my bike is so wide I have to lean it to the right to give the bus 2 inches to pass *gahhh*

Half of the roads we are doing are unpaved, good chance to try out my new Heidenau rear

Neda threads her way through a road carved out of the mountainside

The Quiche department is dominated by the Sierra de los Cuchamatanes - the largest non-volcanic mountain-range in Central America

Making trax...

We are climbing up twisty roads towards Nebaj

The paved roads towards Nebaj are heavenly, first-gear switchbacks climbing high into the mountains. However, we are puzzled by two different kinds of logos painted on rocks, mountainsides and everywhere along the side of the road - blue "Todos" and red "Lider". We find out later that it's two political parties and there's either an election coming up or one has just passed.

Asking for directions to Acul - Neda trys out her Ki'Che'

Speaking of languages, I have a new Spanish teacher - Neda. We do lessons over the communicator while riding. Along with verb conjugation I am also learning how to swear at Chicken Buses en Espanol. In these roads up here in the mountains, it's best not to ride too close to the centre line while apexing, as oncoming cars and buses regularly cross the line.

Moo-ving right along...

The scenery here becomes very European-alpine-countryside

Pulling into our destination for the next couple of nights

Bungalows in the background - ours is the one in the middle

As per Julio's recommendation, we're relaxing in a great little cheese farm outside of Acul called Mil Amores (Spanish for a Thousand Loves). It's such a bucolic setting, very quiet save for the soft ka-tunkle of the bells tied around the cows and goats necks. A nice place to just kick back, relax and enjoy the surroundings, and the food is fresh from the farm - cheese and beans served during every meal. Did I mention we are both a little bit lactose intolerant? After every meal, our little bungalow rocks with the sounds of two-stroke motorcycles... *BRAAAAP*

I never thought Guatemala could look like this - everything is so lush from the Guatemalan winter rains

The region around Nebaj and Acul is like the Guatemalan version of the Alps. In fact, the farm was settled in the 1930s by a family of Italian artisan cheese makers who honed their craft in the Swiss alps, and searched the Americas for a similar place - high altitudes, eternal green grass. Looks like they found it.

Wine, and a little fuel for our two-strokes

Afternoon rains give our bikes a bit of a wash

We are timing our travels well during the rainy season

Warm and dry inside the kitchen with a Kindle, a candle and a hot cup of tea

Outside, the farm's dog guards our motos - his snoring is louder than our two-strokes

Neda contemplating Blue Angels

It was such a great relaxing couple of days and we're now ready to hit the road again!

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