From Palenque it was time to head up into the mountains of Chiapas as we directed 'The Muskox' toward Guatemala. To push through in one day would have been possible but there were a couple of stops along the way we wanted to take in so settled for a more sedate pace. The first stop was Agua Azul, a spectacular series of waterfalls I had visited in 95, that I wanted to show Cole. Unfortunately it wasn't much as I remembered. In fact we didn't even make it to the falls as the crowds were nuts. I couldn't believe how different it was from the relaxing visit I had had there in 95. This time the parking lot was chock full of giant buses and crowded restaurants and vendors were jammed in everywhere between the trees. It was quite disheartening so Cole and I had a quick bite to eat then decided to push on as neither of us were in the mood for the crowds.
We pushed up into the mountains where we frequently came across locals with roadblocks set up. Some were manned by kids with their hands out, others with women, and some with whole families, and in each case a rope was draped across the road which was raised and lowered like a toll booth arm at a bridge. The road was much as I remembered it, sinuous and enjoyable and as we were traveling during daylight hours we didn't encounter any banditos that you so often hear about. As the day wound down we made our way into San Cristobal de la Casas and found a hotel in a beautifully restored building close to the centre of town.
The next day it was off to the Sumidero Canyon for a boat ride. It was a short jaunt on the bike to the small town of Chiapa de Corzo, the jumping off point to the popular national park. The canyon was another site I'd visited in 95 and as we had passed on Agua Azul I was determined to take Cole here as I remembered it fondly. It was another busy stop as the Sumidero Canyon is Chiapas State's second most popular tourist destination. Having said that things went quite smoothly and before we knew it we were on a boat headed up the canyon. The Sumidero is quite something to see with vertical walls that rise up on either side to 1000 metres at their highest point. Our boat pilot pointed out different features as we cruised up the canyon towards the dam at the other end and when he saw a fresh water crocodile he throttled down so we could take pictures. That was a bonus! All in all it was a great afternoon on the water.
The following day it was finally off to the Guatemalan border where I wasn't exactly sure how things were going to shake out as my import permit for the bike was non existent. As it turned out we had nothing to worry about as we cruised out of Mexico without even stopping and when the customs official on the Guatemalan side asked for the Mexican permit, not sure why he did that, I just showed him some insurance papers in English which he looked at intently before waving us on. Our crossings were becoming a bit convoluted, I'd entered into northern Mexico by way of Nogales without stopping and getting my passport stamped and had now exited without a stamp which basically meant I had never visited Mexico and the bike was never imported! I was clear, but Cole was a different story. As he'd flown into Cancun and had his passport stamped there he had been recorded entering the country, and now he'd left without getting stamped, tsk tsk. I had a feeling we'd have some issues entering back into Mexico by way of Belize on the return....but that pickle was set aside for another day. I was just happy we'd made it to Guatemala!