Retahluleu, Guatemala : 20th September 2003

It’s been a while folks I know and the only apology I can offer is to say that sometimes it’s just not easy! I realise that a diary entry for Guatemala is long overdue but better late than never.

Miss M has been on the road for about 15 months now and although I only joined her and Mise in March of this year in Brazil, it feels like I have been part of TATA forever. Mise and I had a chat about our travels the other night over a bay of hay and a tasty concoction of horsey-vitamin food and we couldn’t believe that we are now almost through Central America.

Our first day in Gautemala from Yupitepeque to Jutiapa had brought its fair deal of nervousness, fear and anxiety which none of us would like to have repeated and luck, the gods, fate or whatever you want to call it, was certainly on our side. I am dying to give you just even a little hint as to what happened that day but I will seriously risk my position in the group if I attempt to share the gossip without Miss M’s permission.

The mayor of the town of Puebla Nueva offered his assistance in the form of a guide that was going to take Miss M and us over the mountains to a place called Guanagazapa. He had no horse but because there was going to be so many ups and downs and rough terrain, it didn’t matter and Miss M ended up walking with us for most of the time too. Although the pace was slow, we were all covered in perspiration in jig time. After going for about 4 hours, we arrived in a small village where our guide knew a family. We stopped for a rest and Miss M unsaddled us completely. We were given some hydrating gels and Miss M wouldn’t leave us alone until both Mise and I had sipped some water down to let the vitamins get through our body quicker. At this house was also a sweet little girl full of smiles and who loved Miss M’s riding chaps. The mother put a pretty dress on the girl and pictures were taken. As a memory, Miss M gave the little girl a photo of the three of us and also a little Irish Tin Whistle. Needless to say she was delighted!

We arrived in Guanagazapa in a way that was not planned at all and although I can’t say too much now, I can just add that in this world there are just some people you can not rely on…. no matter how decent and friendly they look. But I will leave this story for another day (yes, I am sure everybody knows by now that means Miss M will tell what happened in her own time!).

Miss M had a few things to do in a town called Esquintla and by chance we discovered a very nice place just off the side of the road, about 25km from the town. The whole property was surrounded by high white walls and this was very important for Miss M as she is always looking out for the safest place for us, away from the public eye and curious stares… you never know what can happen when somebody lay their eyes on me (and Mise too off course!). The owners of this lovely Spanish Villa were not at home but the care-takers were so friendly and didn’t hesitate to offer their help when Miss M said that she needs a safe place for a day or two. We got a good rinse-down, did our customary role on the ground (Mise still can’t roll from one side to another – must be a female thing) and went off to explore everything around us that is edible for the night. Esperanza, the lady care-taker took Miss M to her room and a few minutes later we heard splashes in the pool… what an unusual luxury! The next day Miss M went into Esquintla by bus to send a few important mails and we were very happy to have an extra’s day rest.

From Esquintla the road was still a double-way but the traffic was heavy and far too many trucks and buses went passed us during the day. Mise nearly got us run over by huge trucks when she got afraid of some gaps in cement blocks next to the road (I’ll explain this later.. it’s a bit strange and complicated!) and Miss M got seriously annoyed at some hissing sounds of a young lad on the other side, leaning on his bicycle, waiting for a disaster to happen. Miss M was constantly worried about all the traffic but as we didn’t have anybody that could help us with alternative roads, we just had to push along. It was also very hot as we were not too far from the Pacific Coast and the air was hot and sticky.

We were very fortunate though that we had people waiting for us in Retahluleu...Tirso is the cousin of Eduardo Palomo (our host in San Salvador) and both he and his wife Annie were extremely hospitable and helpful. The Cattle Association agreed that Mise and I could stay on their premises and we both had our own stable. It took us a while to get used to all the confinement of a closed environment for most of the day and on Miss M’s request we were taken outside every day for a couple of hours to graze freely. A Vet friend of the Cordova’s called Roberto came to have a look at us and recommended a rest of at least two weeks and off course we didn’t argue with him! We really recuperated during our stay in Reu and we want to say thank you to Alfredo and the people from the Cattle Association who as a sign of goodwill, did not even want any money for giving us good food and putting us up for almost three weeks.

Miss M ended up meeting most of the Cordova family and each one ended up helping Miss M in some way. Ana Lorena gave her assistance when Miss M had to go to Guatemala city and nothing was too much trouble for her. Tirso’s father, Don Tirso is a very well-read man and he was fascinated by our journey. He went through all the trouble of making her lots of copies from books about ancient treks through Guatemala and this surely made for interesting reading. Miss M was spoiled and treated so much during her stay in Retahluleu... there was an outing to the Amusement Park called Xetulul, which was a great day out although Miss M only braved it out on the water-boat ride whereas Annie couldn’t get enough of all the daring rides, spinning, twisting and twirling around until Miss M felt sick for her sake! Sunday lunch was with Don Tirso and Ana Lorena at a wonderful hotel at a place called Hostales de San Martin IRTRA, which is settled on lovely gardens with chalets and swimming pools.

Ricky Bressani (the brother-in-law) of Tirso offered his help to Miss M in the form of sorting out her route from Reu towards Mexico and they spent one whole day going in his pick-up, checking out the roads and see what the possibilities are. Miss M was looking for off-the-beaten-track roads but they soon saw that these trails would even be worse than the tarmac as it was literally covered with stones all the way. Miss M told us later how they nearly had an accident when a storm came up later that afternoon and they missed two huge trees falling on the road, by seconds. Shows you..... sometimes it is safer to go on horse-back!

Mise says I am talking too much and has volunteered (she actually has no option) to tell about the next stretch of our journey, finishing the last leg in Guatemala and our entry into Mexico. Before I sign off folks, I just want to say on behalf of the three of us, thank you very much to everybody that we know and those we don’t know for continuing to send us lovely and inspiring messages on the TATA Guestbook. It is good to know that after all this time, we haven’t been forgotten (just yet). ADIOS!!!!

 

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