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san pedro and the whirlwind riders

I am excited to be going to San Pedro, on the other side of the lake from Panajachel, to meet Tank and his buddy, Mike, who have just ridden a couple of ’74 Honda Singles down from the States and are taking a bit of time out to study Spanish before heading onwards to South America. I met Tank at the Grand Canyon where he worked as a trekking guide and a series of late night conversations confirmed that we were part of the same ‘family.’

San Pedro is a short scenic sunset boat ride away from Panajachel.

Volcanoes and clouds go together.

Tank, AKA Jason, is studying Spanish in San Pedro for a few weeks in preparation for his South American motor-cycle adventure.

Can't beat a bottle of cheap rum, good company and hammocks with a view for a couple of days of rest and relaxation.

Mike breakfasts in the sun on the patio...

... before he and Tank help out the builders, who are vertically extending the already extensive Hotel Peneleu, by carrying a few bags of cement up the spiral staircase to the rooftop building site.

A gratuitous photo of me - showing off the stylish ceiling pattern in the outdoor kitchen. (Photo: Tank)

These boys have some potentially useful skills to share. Locked gates are often an irksome barrier to an otherwise perfect campsite and I'm looking for a less strenuous way to overcome them than hauling my bike and bags over the top.

We whip up a few simple tool...

... and put them to the test...

... but unfortunately to no avail. The wire we had at our disposal was too thick and not springy enough. However, I did pick up a few useful hints. (Photo: Tank)

Tank and Mike have found inspiration for their travels in tales of wild west adventures and decide to model themselves - loosely - on the Whirlwind Riders.

The trusty steeds are a couple of '74 Honda Singles - Mike's is 350 cc and Tank's 250 cc - all the way from Tennessee.

Tank, goggles up for a quick whirl around the lake with me riding pillion.

We head to San Marcos...

... to find a rock to jump off into the chilly waters of the lake. There is a designated rock for this purpose in San Marcos but after a bit of crazy bush bashing we find an alternative one. (Photo: Tank)

Hotel Peneleu's roof top terrace might be a building site but it still boasts an excellent sunset view.

The next day we plan to climb San Pedro, the volcano that gives this lakeside settlement its name, and get up at dawn.

We drink our morning coffee with a fine cloudless view of our goal.

Mike's bike is a little reluctant to start in the chill of the morning but we are on our way to the trailhead soon enough.

The lower slopes of the volcano are cultivated and we encounter various people going about their business. Collecting firewood is a constant and arduous task for Guatemalans, who use it as fuel for their daily cooking. This man is carefully creating a bundle that will be as comfortable as possible to carry on his back down the mountain to his house. His axe is neatly encased inside. I tried to ascertain how many days this wood would last but the answer wasn't clear - what is certain is that this chore is a constant and unremitting burden.

Old growth forest on the upper slopes of the volcano.

Tank, in his incarnation as Don Rubio, admiring the view from the 3000 metre summit of San Pedro. We made it up in two hours.

Looking back down on San Pedro at the halfway point of the descent.

Back on the terrace we watch the afternoon clouds collect around San Pedro's summit with a rum in hand.

Heading back to Panajachel, after a bizarre Alice-in-Wonderland type telephone exchange with a woman at the TNT, Guatemala City, reveals that my box is being held at a delivery depot in Panajachel. They couldn't, it seems, be bothered to send it all the way to the clearly marked address.

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