Since Friday was Mike's birthday, we decided to head out of Xela toward the coast. We rented a car and left early. Our first stop was San Juan Ostuncalco. We pulled into a parking place near the municipal building to ensure our Garmin and map coincided and a very kind police officer came over to offer help. After getting our bearings, we left this farming community outside of San Juan, elevation 8300'.
Xela doesn't use a lot of tumulos, but the smaller communities do. In English this would be defined as, "ginormous speed bump that will remove the oil pan on your passenger car". This is a very effective method of controlling speed. I have seen one speed limit sign in all of Guatemala thus far, and it was a 10 km warning for a dangerous mountain curve. At least on this drive we were warned with signage; that isn't usually the case.
We're coming into San Martin, elevation 8145.
As we make our way toward Colomba, the beauty of the jungle really invites photography. There are no such things as turn-outs, so we find just one safe place to pull over for a quick perspective shot to let you know these leaves are the size of opened umbrellas.
We've dropped considerably in elevation and are entering Colomba, 3183-2300' from beginning to end. We couldn't tell where the right road was, so we stopped to ask for directions. A very kind gentleman said he was heading the same way, to follow him. He stopped at the last crossroad and told us some landmarks to watch for and instructed us to lock our doors and roll up our windows. We already figured we look like pretty easy targets, so we are cautious.
Colomba has many of the same sights as the other cities in Guatemala, but the homes are less protected by barbed wire. They are more open and inviting, rather than being behind fences, metal doors and obscured. This yard was full of hens and roosters, with children running around while their mom finished her laundry. I can't get enough of these magnificent tree trunks!
We didn't find much to photograph in Retalhuleu, which is 800', 89 degrees and a dew point of 70. When we left Xela this morning it was about 55 degrees and dry. More than one comment was made about being glad our assignment wasn't in Retalhuleu.
As we were driving through Zunil the women's corte (native, hand woven dress) was amazing. The city has a reputation of not liking gringos, so when we politely asked some women if we could purchase corte there, they said they don't sell it there, to try the next city, Almolonga. I was so excited to find a shop there with this unusually beautiful corte, but there was nothing in the four mile stretch that looked like a corte shop. Wearing it must be for members only. I don't blame them for not wanting to share with outsiders, but would love to buy some if I ever see it in my travels.
Altogether we drove 100 miles and it took us about 4.5 hours. Great fun!