After another easy border crossing we headed for Antigua having decided not to stay over in Guatemala City. However we stopped for coffee at a Gallery on the outskirts. Amazing contemporary furniture was on display in many of the galleries and shops.
At the coffee shop there was a deli section that sold imported foods and sauces that also sold Appletiser and Grapetiser!
When we left the gallery I had trouble getting the car into gear. The clutch wasn’t working as it should. Back on the freeway the traffic was terrible. It took over an hour to bypass Gautemala City. The difficulty I was having with the gears didn’t help either.
By the time we arrived in Antigua there was no clutch at all. We camped at the Tourist Police parking lot. It was amongst ruins left by an earthquake. And it was free!
The police were friendly and very helpful. They gave me the contact details of a garage that could repair the clutch. It was Friday so we had to wait until Monday before seeing them.
Fortunately we were staying on the edge of the town and could walk everywhere.
The timing of our visit couldn’t have been better.
The biggest festival of it kind in the whole of Latin America was being held in Antigua that weekend.
The streets were decorated with dyed sawdust forming beautiful patterns and combined with corn, greenery and flowers.
Jacarandas in full bloom!
Something we’d noticed the whole way through South America was the wonderful display of Jacarandas and Bougainvilleas. And now here again in Guatemala.
The procession of floats, bands and people dressed in purple, walked over the decorations destroying them in the process.
So much hard work had gone into preparing them too.
On Monday the garage fetched the camper and took it in for diagnosis. They spent the whole day removing the gearbox and clutch assembly so we had to sleep in the garage that night! We were actually locked in between 6pm and 7 30am!
The next morning we received the quotation as the parts had to be brought in from Gautemala City. The problem lay in the master cylinder, but the clutch plate and flywheel were very badly worn and needed replacement too.
We spent another two nights sleeping in the garage while the work was carried out.
Luckily we were in Antigua, one of the prettiest cities we’d been in, with it’s colourful people and their wares.
We found a number a very good restuarants and coffee shops in town where we were able to connect to wifi.
The crafts were exceptionally good and Solveig found a stunning new jacket design. There was lots to keep us busy.
As soon as the car was ready we left Antigua for Lago Atitlan. The car was back to normal and it was a pleasure to drive. On the way we detoured to Iximche, the site of ancient Mayan ruins near Tecpan…
The decent to Lake Atitlan was terribly steep and passed through a small town, Solala, to Panajachel on the lake shore. We arrived as it was getting dark. Luckily there was a wonderful campsite right on the edge of the lake under trees.
The calm lake waters were also an ideal place for fishing.
We went into Panajachel in the morning to buy provisions and we could see immediately why the town had been a hippie favourite in the 70’s
Solveig bought some items from this Argentinian couple.
The town was filled with crafters on the sidewalks selling their crafts and the restuarants still had old hippies, that had returned to live here, reminiscing about the good old days.
A boat taxi service operated around the lake that locals used to get to their small villages that were otherwise cut off. We took the taxi to nearby Santa Cruz la Laguna…
The next day we awoke to find the weather had changed. As it looked like rain we headed off once again for the border, this time at La Mesilla. It was a long drive on mountain passes and through valleys so we stopped for the night in San Domingo near to the border.
The next morning we awoke, excited that we would be in Mexico in time for my birthday. 20 years before we’d celebrated my 50th there and it seemed fitting that we should celebrate my 70th there too.
But it was not to be !!! We went through imigration without a problem but were turned away when we tried to get a T.I.P. for the camper.
Even though we owned the vehicle it had not been transfered into my name. As it was registered in USA we could only do that there.
We had paperwork which had been drawn up by a lawyer in Argentina that got us through each of the eleven countries we gone through without a problem. But Mexico had different requirements for the tempory importing of vehicles we were informed by the customs officials.
With our tail between our legs we returned to Panajachel to decide what to do next…..!!