I contacted the manufacturer of my rear suspension (Cogent Dynamics) to let them know what had happened to my suspension and what options I had to get it fixed or replaced. Luckily, Cogent is a kick-ass company and offered to cross-ship me a new suspension within a day since my shock was still under its year warranty. Because of the problems I had shipping items through Mexico, I reached out to a friend I had made in Guatemala City who owns a sporting goods store, and asked him if he had any shipments coming in from the US that I could use.
He let me know that if I ship the package to his shipper in Miami, I could get the shock delivered via one of his crates within a week, for a cost of only $15US. I jumped at the opportunity of a cheap and secure method of shipping the shock to Guatemala, and started to make plans for what I would do with my time in Panajachel.
I made quick friends with a few of the locals and some other travelers who were either working or spending time in Pana. Steve, a young guy from New Hampshire, convinced me to hop on a boat and head across the lake to San Marcos, a small town on the lake with some cliff jumping.
After spending a few hours swimming, jumping, and soaking up the sun, Steve and I went back to the docks to wait for a boat back to Panajachel. While sitting there, some of the young locals tried selling us theirÂ jewelry, clothes, and food. Instead of buying anything, I started singing songs and learning new songs from a few of the girls.
After a week of hanging out with Steve, traveling around the lake, chatting with girls, and cooking food on my roof-top campsite, my shock has finally arrived back in Guatemala City. I unload my luggage as much as possible, bringing only my essential survival gear and tools to fix my bike, and tighten my suspension down as much as it will go in hopes to eliminate the bouncy-bouncy-bouncy when I hit any kind of bump. I roll out of Panajachel and make my way to Guatemala City, a 2 hour ride that has been the most brutal I’ve ever had on my body. Every bump, dip, and pothole in the road goes straight up into my body, not having any suspension to dampen it. I can’t wait to get my shock swapped out and get out of the city.
I pick up the shock from my friends store and start poking around at some local motorcycle shops to see if I can use some space to swap the shock out. One of the mechanics at the local Honda shop says I can come early the next morning to do it before his bosses got there, and could use his tools if I needed any help.
Getting back to Panajachel on a fully functional bike was a pleasure. My friends there had convinced me to stay for Semana Santa, which is a hugely important week-long holiday in Latin America. All of the hostels bumped their prices up by 2 or 3 times the usual rate, so I ended up camping on the roof of a hostel for 2 weeks. I actually prefered the peace and tranquility of camping, going to sleep when it gets dark out and waking up with the sun and chickens in the morning. The week in Panajachel was wild, the streets packed with tourists and Guatemalans, beer trucks and dancing girls, and drinking on the streets from dawn to 3 or 4 in the morning. I was glad to not be actually traveling around Latin America during the week, as traffic was terrible and hostels and hotels were full up and increased in price.
I spent my days exploring around the lake on Oscar. The lake has some nice roads surrounding it, but I muchÂ preferredÂ to take the secondary roads and small trails that wind through the mountains between small Mayan villages.
After spending a few weeks in Panajachel, I decided to pack up my things and hit the road to El Salvador. But, as luck would have it, my plans would be permanently changed when I got close to the border, and the continuation of my trip would be up on the chopping block.