Early start, climbing, heat, traffic, hustle, bustle, climbing, heat, traffic, hustle, bustle... The second day in Guatemala and on the PanAm continues challenging and exhausting in terms of riding. Just as yesterday I barely manage 40km until noon. Not sure if my climbing legs are completely gone or if it is the heat. It´s tough. So far I haven´t seen a single flat road. Looking at the elevation gains the climbing is not crazy. The grades are the problem - either brake burning, sharp switch back downhill or steep double digit grade uphill.
I take a two hour lunch break to escape the heat. In terms of food Guatemala is a bit less rich than Mexico. Just to put out a first impression. However, it is slightly less centered around meat what I like. A typical dish contains fried bananas, beans, cooked veggies, rice, eggs, some meat to give you a rough first glimpse. Dinner has a strong breakfast style to me. For lunch small stalls selling fried chicken and french fries seem popular. And finally good coffee. I never really understood why Mexican like their Nestle instant coffee so much.
Arriving in a restaurant, I always ask for a recommendation and then get a surprise once the plate arrives at my table. Today: Rice, beans, sausage, grilled vegetables. Prices are fairly high, though, especially compared to Mexico. I later learn that Guatemala has to import a lot and thus it drives prices. Feels wrong for a country which has an average income below 400€ a month.
After lunch I am finally up to almost 3000m. The climate in the Alti Plano is much more pleasant. Clouds come in later during the day which is typical towards the end of the hot season. Rain season is approaching in about a month time. With pleasant 20 degrees I reach San Francisco el Alto, cheap hotel, no window, shared bath but nice and clean. As I want to go to the supermarket shortly after nightfall the once busy street is completly empty. The small shops are already closed, barely a person on the street, 7PM. Houses are grey, it looks poor. Definitly different than the average Mexican town. It feels a bit sketchy to be honest. I can´t remember if I had this feeling yet. But it certainly must be said that Guatemala feels rougher than Mexico so far. With only a few Quetztal in my pocket I make the 5 minute walk to the supermarkt, get some supplies and go back to the hotel. In Mexico I probably would have had a little stroll around town but all good! I still need to get a better feeling for the Do´s and Don´t here and don´t want to push my luck.