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Livingston, Guatemala

It just got good.

We (just myself and Zack these days) worked our way to the little village of Lanquin, Guatemala. Way off the beaten track, but definitely worth the 3 hours on bad dirt roads from Coban. This place is amazing, complete with waterfalls and cascading pools, caves that go back for 3km, and even some untapped climbing potential.

We blew 3 days there, in a grass hut in a cow pasture, intending to head back to Coban and then bus it down to El Estor and onward to Livingston on the coast. But then, we heard about the secret back way.

Apparently, people had, in the past, come into town from the other direction over a series of unmaintained roads that weren't on any of the maps we had along. Others had left town for El Estor that way, with apparent success. No details were available though, as none of them ever came back. We're there!

First stop was Cahabon, a town remote enough that the sight of westerners is still novel enough to draw stares, pointing, and laughter. We stayed there for a day, and set the alarm for 2:45.

At 3:30am, we hit the road for what was possibly the most interesting travel day of my life. The locals head out for work at 4 in a series of 2 ton farm trucks. We hopped on the one that looked like it was heading the farthest out of town, and rode it as far as it would go.

The next several hours were spent alternately sitting by the side of the road in remote Guatemalan jungle, and standing inside or on the bumper of small pickups with up to 30 people in the bed. Eventually we hit the highway (also a dirt road, but straighter), and found a ride to El Estor.

28 Hours, 5 rides (one in a truck full of guys with shotguns), 50 miles, $2.50 not including room and board in Cahabon.

I'm in Livingston now, enjoying the Caribbean sun for one last day before heading back to Guatemala city and home.

permalink written by  Jason Kester on March 2, 2002 from Livingston, Guatemala
from the travel blog: Central America
tagged CertainDeath, HitchHiking, Adventure and BFE

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Galway, Ireland

It was, without a doubt, the nicest day in Ireland I've experienced on this trip. Good thing too as it was my first attempt at a long-haul hitchhiking trip. It wasn't all coming up roses, though. Following direction from a hitchhiking wiki (the infamous wiki... never to be trusted again) I took a bus to the outskirts of Cork, where it was said I'll be on the road to Limerick. My goal for the day was Galway, about 110 miles I approximate; a little ambitious, given I had a bit of a late start, around 1:30, and these are all roads I don't know at all. I stood thumbing, with a sign that said "Limerick! ...or... Galway!" for about two hours, changing locations, trying to deduce where to best hitch with the turnoffs on the road around me. Finally a man stopped and informed me I'll have no luck on this road as it's the old Cork-Limerick Road that no one really uses anymore. He dropped me off at the main road about a half mile away where I ran into another backpackerk, in his 40s probably, dressed fully in camouflage, saying he was going to Dublin in a thick unidentifiable accent. I thought it was a little strange as he was heading north like I was and Dublin was to the east, but I didn't say anything. In a half hour I caught a lift with a youngish redheaded Irish fellow who nearly caused a three car pile up when he stopped for me. He took me as far as Mallow, about 30 km up the road.

While thumbing in Mallow I was thanking the gods for the good weather as I was coming down with a cold, when a bee stung me on my finger as I was brushing it from my shirtsleeve. I was brought back to 8th grade english class, the last time I was stung by a bee, also from a bee in my shirtsleeve. I noticed it there and stood up and started flailing around trying to get it out. No one took me seriously because I was a bit of a class clown back then. So, feeling an odd combination of misery and blessedness in my situation I waited about 45 minutes until an Englishman from South Africa picked me up and took me as far as Buttevant, about 20 km south of Limerick. In Buttevant, a bit of a ghost town, about half of all the shops abandoned, it was about 4PM, when once again I ran into my fellow hitchhiker friend. "I though you were going to Dublin!" I said to him. "I don't speak language," he said, "from Chech Repooblic." I realized he might not even know where he was going, just rambling in the truest sense of the word. He just said Dublin earlier because it was the only city he knew of in Ireland, an automatic response. He put two fingers to his mouth in the international symbol for a cigarette, I let him roll one, and he goes about 50 yard down the road and sticks his thumb out. Fifteen minutes later a guy of about 30 years stops and says, "You goin' to Galway?" I says to him "Hell yeah!" and hop in. Jackpot. This came at a point when I was resigning myself to staying the night in Limerick, about the halfway point between Cork and Galway. I realize that my wasted two hours on the wrong road helped deliver me to this point, to be at the right place at the right time to catch this straightaway spin all the way to my destination.

His name was Karreth, he works and lives in Cork City, and was on his way to Galway to see his family for the weekend. I really lucked out with him, we had great conversation and even smoked a spliff. He drove me all the way into Galway city, even though where he was going was in the suburbs. "Don't go too far out of your way for me..." I said to him, to which he responded with something akin to what I feel I would say, "What, it's ten minutes out of my life and I'm helping someone out" We xchanged email addresses and parted ways. He dropped me off at an internet cafe where I checked for any responses to my last minute couchsurfing requests. No such luck, so I stayed in a hostel and took it easy for the night. I walked around aimlessly for a bit and ran into a couple of rickshaw drivers and got a promising lead on where to rent them and make a little bit of money...

Yesterday I woke up, checked out of the hostel and found a positive response to my many couchsurfing requests. I followed up on the rickshaw lead before meeting with my host and my hopes were dashed away, all the rickshaws were booked up through the week, I walked off disappointed, but the guy called me back saying he had one available at 7:30 or 8 that night. Shit yeah.

I met my host at 4:30, another Pole. His name is Paluch and he lives real close to the city centre. When I returned to the rickshaw place, the bossman was a no-show... I knew it was too good to be true. I had given him Paluch's phone number and he called around 10, saying he had one still, but it was a case of too little too late. Hopefully he'll call sometime next week... I was really really looking forward to driving a rickshaw around Galway.

I'm now at internet cafe, where I'm getting free usage from Paluch's Australian roommate who works here. Galway is a great city, very similar to Rennes in France. It's known as a the party city of Ireland, there are two universities here. I'll stay here for about a week, Teagan will arrive on the 2nd, then we'll head to Wicklow.

permalink written by  Dan Schoo on August 30, 2008 from Galway, Ireland
from the travel blog: A cowboy boot to Europe's ass...
tagged HitchHiking and Galway

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