After a few days of lazy sightseeing in Antigua, we bucked up and set our sights on Lago Atitlán. There is a good reason why some call Atitlán the “eighth wonder of the world.” But to get there we had quite a day ahead of us. Leaving Antigua to the north, we yet again fought up Guatemala’s signature steep ascents, accompanied by volcanic vistas, truck traffic, and blistering heat when the wind wasn’t blowing gritty dust directly into our faces. After a few too many hours of this, we finally turned off the main highway and onto the old Antigua-Atitlán road – a welcome respite that brought us right into the hills surrounding the lake.
We rode out of Belize from San Ignacio, entering Guatemala with our spirits soaring. This time around we didn’t have to deal with any official charging us nonsense fees bound for his own pocket. Instead the crossing was quick and painless, and in no time at all we found ourselves on the Guatemalan side of the border. The change of surroundings was astounding. After bumping along Belize’s questionably maintained road system for the past three weeks, we all of a sudden had a freshly paved, nearly car-free road stretched out ahead of us. We were so happy that we could have dropped right off our bikes and kissed the pavement!