"The birds are chirping, it has to be close to 5am", I mumbled to Kev as I stretched out enjoying the rare comfort of a kingsized bed. Then the alarm sounded! We have a big day ahead of us today with the winding ride down from the Lake, through many towns then heading towards the Pacific Ocean, finally exiting Guatemala and entering El Salvador! I pulled back the heavy striped curtains made from traditional weave to enjoy the early morning light. We had organized most of our items the night before, so this morning it was just a matter of getting ourselves ready, packing up our toiletries and clothing bags to load on the bikes, then sitting down to a simple early breakfast scheduled to be delivered to our rustic volcanic rock cabin at 5:45am.
"Do you feel that Cat!…We are having an earthquake!", Kev sternly voices! Not only was the entire volcanic rock cabin, eerily swaying above our heads, but the floor felt like it was moving on a bed of ball bearings. The sky rumbled, cracked and popped, and that my friends was a noise that I had never experienced before. My senses felt impending doom, and I immediately felt a rush of adrenaline as my body switched into the fight/flight mode. Kev grabbed me by the arm and we promptly exited the heavy carved castle like front door and moved into a clearing away from possible destruction. My pupils were dilated, my body began to tremble, and my heart pounding, induced a cold sweat. Where do you go when you are on the side of a volcano, surrounded by other volcano's? I definitely felt trapped! Kev wrapped his strong arms around me, all we could do was just hold each other. The ground continued to move under our feet and the doomsday bursts, booms and cracks from a nearby volcano, dominated the sky surrounding us. I could see one volcano directly in front of us, across Lake Atitlan. Nothing was happening there that I could see, but I do know that we are in a very tumultuous area. How close is close when it comes to a volcanic eruption?
The ground stopped shaking, the rumbling eased, and all seemed well. Kev and I continued to tremble, and sat quiet for a few moments catching our thoughts….it was a very emotional moment. Adrenaline still flowing in our blood stream we were antsy to hit the road. I forced down a piece of bread with banana, and a coffee, eating was not the first thing on my mind. We have a haul ahead of us today and I knew that once the adrenaline high wore off I would crash, so a little food now was a good idea.
Riding through the narrow streets and maneuvering our way out of Santiago, the locals were somewhat blank faced. Many were standing out in their cobble stoned streets examining their homes and businesses for possible damage. In the farming areas, just outside of town, Guatemalans were clearing the rubble from their stone fences that had crumbled out into the roadways. I have no idea how extensive the damage was, where the quake originated and if there were any injuries.
Adrenaline is truly a wonderful rush, and today it added a supercharged dose of instinct, strength and efficiency to our day. It even helped when we somehow happened on, and were funneled into a town parade close to the El Salvador border. People, cars, bikes, displays, food carts, dogs, and obstructions were everywhere…it was utterly surreal. After exiting the parade and continuing one our way it was not long till we could smell the fresh salty air of the Pacific Ocean. How lovely is that!? It has been quite a while since I last saw the Pacific, so I waved…she waved back!!….I know corny!! I thought that maybe I should lighten it up a bit!
Riding up to the Guatemalan/El Salvador border a young man rides up beside us and mouths "W E L C O M E". Kev radios me "I think that he is a tout!" Not to be confused with trout. Although touts can be a little fishy at times! Damn I'm good! Anyway long story short, this tout ends up being George! We actually read about George on riders forums and blogs as an extremely helpful border person. "Wow…your George!…You are famous man!" I said, George grinned from ear to ear! "I don't know if we will need your help ", Kev states, and George politely grinned, gave us our space and followed behind. Funny thing, George made things so much easier. George totally walked us through the entire process between and through the two borders, translated for us, communicated with both the Guatemalan and El Salvador officials, and even looked after our bikes. He made sure we had all the correct paperwork in order, photocopies and even went to the trouble of sorting through and placing everything in bundles. The entire process could not have gone any smoother….Thanks George!!!!! Total time from start to finish was 2 hours. We paid George $20 US, a generous amount, more than we had originally settled on. But frankly when your experience is pleasantly outstanding…A little extra can always go a long way for others in need….And the truth is, it is just darn good Karma!
George advised us of future paperwork check points, we shook hands and then, off we rode into El Salvador.