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dust

The reality of travelling on dirt roads, generally, is that if they are not muddy then they are dusty. Most of the roads that we traverse in the Guatemalan mountains show evidence of the exceptionally heavy rains of the previous wet season – whole sections of road have been swept away by landslides – but at this point in time they are bone dry and any traffic raises clouds of fine choking dust.

Silke struggles up a steep and dusty climb. I am surprised to see a tuk tuk tackling this section of remote road - I would have been curious to see if it could have managed the climb rather than the descent.

On another particularly steep and loose section of the road these two women jump off their motor-bike at the top of the hill and, despite their unsuitable footwear, run back to help us push our bikes up the slope. Gazing incredulously at Silke's voluminous burdens they offer to carry some of her bags to the next town - but she refuses.

There is always something beautiful to admire on the road.

Water is all important - and people are almost always happy to provide it.

At the end of a long hot dusty day we spot a sparkling blue swimming pool appear, like a bizarre mirage, below us to one side of the road. Entering a small tienda at the entrance to make enquiries, I am informed by the young boy behind the counter that we can camp beside the pool free of charge but if we wish to enter its waters we must pay a fee of Q10. It seems reasonable.

Closer inspection reveals that the waters are not in fact as limpid as they appeared to be from afar and the whole area is still under construction. As we set up our tents the wind picks up and whips savagely around the desolate shores of this incongruous body of water.

We are lighting a fire in the badly designed fire places when a man on a four wheeler arrives and introduces himself as the owner of this outlandish leisure complex. He rushes around, sending his minions to fetch more wood and chairs for us, and assures himself that we are comfortable.

As we cook our dinner the wind continues to howl. The tin roofs of the poolside shelters rattle and flap malignantly and our fire is in danger of blowing away. Sparks and coals stream into the darkness as we dine.

At the end of a dusty dusty day, a strange pool complex appears like a bizarre mirage beside the road.

It's a weird scene. To my mind, the whole place stinks of drug money.

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