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“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.” – Anthony Bourdain

WEEK 3 | 5001: México a Caballo

Huehuetenango to La Mesilla, Guatemala.

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Easy week downhill into the heat…

We rode really easy days as we approached the Mexican border. The first 2 weeks had been tough, so I wanted to make week 3 and the weeks afterwards easier.

 

 

I’ve only ever done one long ride before and this one is radically different from the first one. Roxy and I both started the first trip in stellar shape mentally and physically. This time I started tired and stressed and Roxy wasn’t in as good shape as I would have liked either, no fault of her own. I had had some REALLY stressful months living in San Andres Itzapa – my health and my training with Roxy suffered immensely because of that. Erratic income, intense time lines on finishing books and a new website, bad living conditions, and even worse bad living conditions for Roxy. I’m not going to go into it much more, but I count myself lucky that I made it out of that town and even the country without me REALLY losing it. I promise I will write about this in detail another time and when my head is clearer.

Back to the ride, Week 3 was one of lots of easy walking and riding slightly downhill. 6 days to cover 90 kms is a joke compared to my first ride. But Roxy and I have to ease our way into this second ride if we want to make it the long haul.

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Beautiful countryside, but narrow, busy roads.

Narrow dangerous roads with loads of international traffic defined our third week. When we arrived closer to the border, working men would heckle me and Roxy for attention AFTER we walked by, never as we approached. I thought that was pretty weak, and as a rule of thumb, I don’t respond to people if they are talking to my back. It’s not my duty or obligation to stop and turn around to find out more about what people want. If they really wanted to talk to me, they could do so AS I approach, or they could catch up to me and ask nicely. This kind of phenomenon was common in the USA as well, people would yell at me AFTER I had gone by. Sorry, but you snooze you lose. I don’t stop or turn around for strangers in a strange land….

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Lots of eating along the way.

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And lots of water too!

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Another dream Toyota…

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Lil’ horse ride after arrival in San Sebastian.

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Camp set up above the swimming pool.

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With host Flori at the swimming hole.

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With host Naty gathering sacate grass for Roxy.

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After eating delicious insects for breakfast.

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With Marvin of La Democracia

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Near Cuatro Caminos.

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The competitors.

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Grab the white flag with the pen.

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Competing horse.

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Inspecting the Easyboots.

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Saying goodbye in La Demo.

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Karate World Champion Franco Pinto trick riding Roxy.

For the short distance we travelled this week the travelling was tough. The traffic and road side activity the last day was the worst. I made it to the border town of La Mesilla and I rested up with a great family, the Pintos. The hosts all throughout the week we as always, fantastic, but the Pinto family helped me in other significant ways, ie. Crossing the Border.

Having had a terrible experience crossing into Guatemala last August, I wanted to do this crossing in a much more organized fashion with a more dependable support team. There are a lot of great and generous people in Guatemala. Make sure these type of people are helping you when you cross the border. Otherwise you could be pounded on by the sharks, the crooks who make money off of your ignorance, and make you feel dirty once you discover the scam. It’s funny how some of the people who run non-profit organizations in Guatemala use the very same tactics on foreigners as some of these custom officials….

To much relief I crossed the border in a relaxed and easy way and made my way to El Cruce just beyond Ciudad Cuauhtemoc. In the next week I will ride towards Comitan, Chiapas, where I will visit some Equine Therapy Groups.

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My official take on riding by horse in Guatemala? Not recommended…

It’s too hard on your horse what with the wild variety of feed you’ll be giving it, the super steep hills are exhausting, the horrendous traffic is mega stressful, the random people and dogs coming out into the road at any given time can spook your horse, and the roadside surfaces with garbage, metal, glass, rocks, barb wire, dead animals and random holes are super dangerous.

Leave your horse at home and go backpacking thru this beautiful country instead. You’ll enjoy yourself way more…

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Must be close, TACOS!