Southern Route Traffic Jam
I woke up early to meet Brad at the Iglesia Católica de Godínez church in Godínez on the Antigua side of Lake Atitlán. Before I left I grabbed my bag of tools and entered the coordinates into my GPS.
The trip was doomed from the start 🙁
My GPS took me south along highway 2. I was expecting it to take me along highway 1 which seemed more direct. But I know that sometimes my GPS takes me a faster route rather than the most direct. Case in point was my ride to Santiago Atitlán where it took me the longer route because the road conditions were much better. So I really didn’t think much of going along highway 2.
I reached a section in the road where they were twinning the highway. There was also a traffic jam for as long as I could see. Others were cutting across the median onto the road that was being constructed to try and get around the cars. I did the same thing. Eventually though there was a traffic jam on both routes.
I started to snake around the cars as I had done before. The lineup went for miles! Eventually the cars started to move. I have no idea what caused the jam as I didn’t see anything. But now I was late to see Brad at 10 am. In an effort not to be too late I started to ride faster.
As I approached the town of Mazatenango I started to get concerned that I was not on the right route. I stopped and pulled out me cell phone and looked at where I was on Maps.me.
CRAP! I was way off. I must have entered in the wrong coordinates. Now I was really going to be late. Anyone who knows me knows that I hate to be late and I usually arrive early to everything.
I would have notified Brad but I had no SIM in my cell phone and he said he had none in his either. So he would just be waiting at the church for me. I was anxious.
I now was trying to get back on track and riding faster than I should. Not really fast, but faster than I should have given the poor road conditions.
The roads here were filled with massive potholes. Along the way citizens were shoveling dirt into them and then asking for donations from passing cars. These potholes along with unmarked topes (speed bumps) would sometimes catch me by surprise.
Hurrying to meet Brad, I entered into a “S” curve. As I did, there was one of those huge potholes right around the corner. CRAP! I hit it.
I don’t remember too much other than I was hanging onto the bike and trying to stop the bike and control the wobble. As the bike slowed to a stop at the side of the road it fell over.
Instinctively I picked up the bike and put down the kickstand. The electronics were still on and my tire warning light was on. I looked at my front tire and it was flat. It also looked like the rim was damaged. To want extent I didn’t know.
I checked the tire and spotted a hole in it.
Frankly, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I pulled out my tire repair kit and stood there for a bit in a bit of shock. Thoughts were racing through my mind … I am late for Brad …. how am I going to fix this …. what am I going to do now …. I could be here for hours …. stupid me …. why did I hurry …. I can’t contact anyone as I have no SIM and I forgot my Spot Tracker at the hotel.
Oh how a Saturday ride in Guatemala is so different that one back home in Canada.
Another thought that came to mind is something I had heard at various Horizon Unlimited meetings I had attended. Speakers would say that when you break down, just relax, and look with anticipation on who will rescue you and the people you will meet.
It wasn’t long before a couple stopped to help me out. We tried to pump up my tire with my pump but it just would hold air.
Oh …. another bad thing … while I brought my pump it needs an adapter to connect to my motorcycle outlet. I left my adapter at the hotel with my electronics 🙁 We had to use the couple’s car outlet. Another lesson learned.
Police to the Rescue
As we were wondering what to do next, an Anti Narcotics Police patrol pulled up behind. There was an armoured vehicle as well as a pick up.
The best I could I explained what had happened.
The Officer in charge said to load my motorcycle in his truck and he would take me into town to a tire repair place. That’s what we did.
Notice the chickens in the picture. I bugged them that that was their dinner ha ha. The chickens later died at the tire repair shop.
About 5 km up the road was a tire repair shop. They didn’t have the tools to deal with my BMW bolts and screws. Luckily, I had my tool kit with me and they used that.
They repaired the hole, put the tire back on and filled it with air. As they did there was a loud bang. Another part of the tire exploded leaving another hole. It was fruitless. The tire was damaged beyond repair.
While they were repairing the tire, we looked at the forks. Both fork seals had blown and it looked like one of the forks was bent.
Basically, the motorcycle was unrideable, even if the tire could be repaired.
Police to the Rescue Again
The Officer in Charge of the police unit was awesome!! He said …well … lets load the motorcycle back up and we will search for a person with a truck to take me back to my hotel in Antigua – a long ways away.
They stopped at several places and asked people. The answer was no. The Officer started making phone calls. I was just in a bit of a daze looking out the window.
One thing about me, I really feel uncomfortable with people doing things for me. I don’t know why, maybe because I don’t like to impose on people. Or perhaps I feel more secure being in control. But in this case I had no other option than to trust and rely on this police unit.
Eventually, we came to this major town. They turned the corner and stopped. The Officer in Charge pointed to this small, wreckedy old truck and asked if this was good enough. What was I going to say ha ha. The cost would be 800 Q or about $150 Canadian to take me to Antigua. That was far cheaper than the 2,000 Q the police said it would probably cost me.
The process of transferring my motorcycle started.
As the police departed we shook hands and I offered some money for their dinner. They declined and the Officer in Charge said it is prohibited.
You know …. you hear a lot of horror stories about Mexican and Central American police. But these police officers at least, were the most kindest and helpful you will ever meet. I am not sure if the police back in home in Canada would have done the same thing. I am ashamed to say that I would have been reluctant to do so. Of course we have other services like tow trucks to deal with these issues.
Back to Antigua
The ride back to Antigua was slow. My motorcycle was almost as big as the truck so we moved slowly. Also, unlike me, he drove slow to avoid the huge potholes.
As luck would have it the clouds rolled in and it started to pour.
We got back to my hotel at 6 pm. A long day since I left at 7 am to meet Brad at 10 am.
We unloaded my motorcycle and as the driver left he gave me a big hug and wished me well. People are so kind here.
I was exhausted, hungry and discouraged. At the same time I had a sense of satisfaction. I had made it. People are good. I had survived.
To both commiserate and celebrate, I headed to the Londoner Pub in Antigua for a beer and chicken curry.
My server was awesome and spent time talking with me … just what I needed.
I hadn’t had anything to eat all day. So the beer went to my head fast ha ha.
Off to bed that night knowing tomorrow would be another day of trying to get my motorcycle to the repair shop in Guatemala City.