!Deseo que estuviese acá! WISH YOU WERE HERE!

Submitted by Lola!  Pictures by AZ!

!Saludos, compañeros!
I got here Thursday, going to meetings with the organizers and locals, getting sunburnt on the lake, drinking Gallo (Cock) beer at the headquarters, and although I'm usually too impatient to sit still long enough to type something like this, it is crucial that y'all know how WORTH every penny it is to get here.   I also want to encourage folks who lost their Mexicali flights to try to get to Mexico City or Oaxaca somehow else because I saw flights as cheap as $50 on the Internet from Mex. City (DF) to Guatemala City...or you could take an overnight bus from there, like Biker Bob is doing right now!
If you are THINKING about coming or doubting coming, just COME! You won't regret it.
Top five reasons:
5.  The Daily Rain.
Since it's winter season, it rains every afternoon--cleans the town.  Usually, by the afternoon, people have their shit done and can just hunker down and listen to it hit the rooftops.   I recommend trying their hot chocolate. (PS bring WARM CLOTHES!  It's relatively close to the equator, but it still gets cold up here!  Wish I had a sweatshirt to sleep in.)

4.  To Watch the Locals Laugh at Us.
The Guatemalans seem to have a great sense of humor.  Andy (AZ) and Biker Bob both have superb facial hair that turns most Guatemalans' heads and gets them either jealous or chuckling... and all the kids' reactions to us crack me up.  (See picture of people listening to results after Gran Premio--which ones are the foreigners? check out the kids looking at Strom's man package.)  I can't imagine the hilarity when hundreds of crusty couriers descend on the town.

3.   La Ocho. 
Get here before they gotta take it down.   No matter how many times I heard about it, I didn't understand the monstrosity and grandiosity of it all.  A figure eight track IN the town's stadium, next to the river?   I'm so proud and impressed by Nadir and Andy that they took a big, crazy dream and made it happen!!    It's huge.  They are still constructing it, but it's taking shape.  When you see it the first time, it's like standing under a scary roller coaster--You know it's gonna be good when you wonder if your health insurance is going to cover any damage that may occur from the ride.

2. The Lake (El Lago).
Is this real? Imagine the Disneyland of mother nature.  Who decided it was okay to have three perfectly-shaped, conical volcanoes around a gorgeous, high-alt. lake?  Swim in the lake at the local beach before noon, when the sun's intense.  Bring your biodegradable soap! 

1.  To race with Guatemalans.
These guys showed up for the Gran Premio on Saturday looking haggard as hell, but AMPED to ride.  Some had come from over 100km away, and they weren't about to let the closed roads keep them from qualifying for the WORLDS!  After slugging through the debris and cliff-hanging pieces of cement left where the road used to be, they made it to the race, dirty socks and all.  This ten year old even competed, and he hauled!  There was an article in today's paper (NUESTRO DIARIO-A Guatemalan National newspaper) about the race.  The title is  "Qualifying for the Worlds."  The best part for me, working at the race, was when a bunch of competitors came up to me after the race to ask:  "Para que clasifique?"  (What did I just qualify for??)  I was told that some of the exhausted racers biked the 100km back home.... 

I came with intentions to race even though I didn't bring a bike.  Riding your fixie around on the cobblestone and up the hills is absolutely do-able--yall are skilled...but I'm glad I bought a used, junker mountain bike for 300 quetzales (about 35 US dollars).  I'm pretty sure it was welded out of the heaviest anchors they could pull out of the lake, so it can tolerate all the potholes. 

Hope to ride with yall soon!

Lola from DC/Atlanta, USA

*Photos by AZ.