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Savage Roads: Mayan roads

By Pat Savage

Photos by Dafrio Dahinten

Greetings from Guatemala City where I am spending one month filming my latest episode of my biker adventure series The Savage Roads. I was very concerned with the volcano that had just erupted a week before my date of arrival but the airport was reopened just two days before my flight and away I flew from Manzanillo, Mexico.

Upon my arrival to Guatemala City, my host and co-star Renee Kane, an American biker who has lived and ridden abroad for many years, was waiting. We drove to the apartment where I would be staying and I met her black 100thAnniversary Heritage Softail, all shiny and ready for me to shoot our episode with.

I met her husband Chris and unpacked my gear in the awesome room I was given and soon fell fast asleep. We were up at 6:00 a.m. and off on an early morning ride with the Guatemala H.O.G. Chapter. We were going to deliver food, clothes, water and medicine donated by the group to the airport hangar set up to receive goods for the victims of the recent volcano eruption. I met the director Max and chapter members Isa, Hugo, Johnathan and more at the dealership. After a coffee or two and some interesting conversation we loaded Renee’s truck with the emergency goods and were off with about a dozen bikes escorting the truck.

There were many folks buzzing about the hangar receiving donations from all over the country, as well as from the whole world. We were the only bikers arriving to help out and when we shut off our engines a huge applause was given us in respect. We unloaded the goods, took a few pictures and then we were off riding to a nice midday meal. Great folks, these Guatemalans; smiling and generous of spirit. I had read that 85 percent of the locals were of Mayan descent so we rode off to a cool restaurant and ate some amazing traditional Mayan cuisine. At the lunch I was invited by the director, Max, to join the chapter on their annual Father’s Day ride on Sunday. I happily accepted and set up a cameraman to roll with us.

The next day we were again up early and we went to the dealership where I was asked if one of their official Harley models, actress and ballerina Daniella Andreina, could ride on my bike with me. With zero hesitation I accepted and off we rode! It was 80 kilometers up into the mountains through the green jungle to Kascadas Del Carmen where a large thatched-roof restaurant in the middle of the jungle had lunch ready for us. After lunch there was a raffle draw with some H-D goodies. We headed back to the city and, other than one clutch malfunction, the Father’s Day ride was a complete success. The challenging ride up and down the mountain roads left me tired but content as always, having ridden new roads with good folks.

Monday morning we found out that the bike Renee was set to ride had some technical problems so we looked for another bike to borrow or rent for the first segment without success. With the cameraman already arranged for Tuesday, we decided this would be a solo ride segment for the episode and we set off early Tuesday morning. We were riding up to the region called Chimaltenanogo to the Iximche archaeological site with its awesome Mayan ruins. We were met there by our young and well-spoken guide Alexis who told us the colorful and sometimes violent history of the Mayan people, their culture and this particular place. Several temples were lined up in a square: a lunar temple, a solar temple and a sacrificial temple. Most of the sacrifices were animals, he explained, but archeologists had found some skulls indicating there had in fact been some human sacrifices as well. He spoke of the Spaniards’ arrival in the 1500s and about the different Mayan tribes who fought for land, power and control. My cameraman Dafrio Dahinten filmed and took these awesome photos of it all!

It is late night here now so soon to bed. Monday we head up to Antiqua, a popular destination with international tourists, to see more ancient Mayan ruins, churches, markets and to sample some music, food and art soon to be seen on the “Mayan Roads” episode of The Savage Roads. Until next month ride safe… ride hard and keep the rubber side down.

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