Just a brief note to let you know that after an amazing morning riding

through mountain roads around Lake Atitlan in Guatemala we had a bit

of an incident. Everyone is fine and it's all good.

It all started the previous night when we planned our route from

Panajachel to San Pedro. There are 2 routes to San Perdo, we wanted to

take the fun way. We went to the police station to ask if the road

around the lake was safe, as we've heard that in the past there have

been some robberies, etc. The police said it was perfectly safe, we

even showed him our intended route on the map.

We were enjoying some amazing twisty roads around the lake and though

the mountains when the road turned into a rough trail, then it got

even rougher. We passed a police 4x4 truck coming from the other way,

so we felt perfectly safe, they even waved to us as we passed each

other. 5 minutes later the road was really bad but we were having a

great time off roading it, we even stopped for some cool off road

action shots that you will never see. I had to stop to when I lost

traction trying to get over a gully, so Sandra stopped behind me. I

just managed to cross the rut when we were then rushed by 2 guys

wielding machetes and a pistol (possibly fake). It wouldn't have been

so bad, however instead of letting me dismount like a gentlemanly

highwayman of days gone by, the dude simply ran up to me and pushed me

and my bike over, sadly there was another little rut to my right and

was nowhere for me to put my foot down, I lost my balance and over I

went. Since I was pushed over I'm not counting that as a fall, I'm

still at zero falls this trip. They proceeded to relieve us of a

small amount of cash (Sandra had the majority of the cash in her

secret stash, which they did not get), our camera featuring awesome

shots of us off roading, and Sandra's bag with her broken iPhone in


The guy who was working on me emptied the pockets of my jacket and

took my iPod Touch and my bank and credit cards, but I took those back

from him and told him that he could keep the cash, but not those

items. Surprisingly he let me keep them. The guy working on Sandra

took the aforementioned bag containing the broken iPod, her glasses,

some bug spay and a couple little items, including the book containing

the daily accounting for our trip. He also cut the tie down straps

holding her large duffle bag to the back of her bike with his machete,

but she was holding on to it pulling it aways saying they could not

have it as it only had clothes in it (it also had one of our computers

in it...) I went over and dragged the bag away from the bad man and

put by bike. We could see that the robbers were very nervous, so I

walked around to my bike and started honking my horn and Sandra did

the same, and they started to move away, so I started chasing them

into the forest. In the confusion they ended up dropping her glasses,

bug spray, one of her sweaters and one of their machetes, of which I

am now the proud owner. Once they were gone we just focused on doing

some make shift repairs to Sandra's tie down straps and getting the

hell out of there in case they came back.

500 meters later we came across another police 4x4 parked at the side

of the trail. Nice, there's never a cop around when you need one...

They escorted us for the remaining few km of rough stuff back to the

highway. The only cars we saw on this strech of road were the 2

police trucks.

We're totally fine, the riding was excellent and it's part of the

adventure, I guess... It all went well as far as robberies go. We

remained calm, gave them what they wanted and got a cool souvenir.

The worst part is that when my bike fell over my aluminium pannier was

quite damaged and is now bent way out of whack and is no longer water

tight. We'll have to find a body shop to bang it back into place or


We're a little angry with the police in Panajachel, we asked for their

advice and they said it was good to go. Had they told us it was

potentially dangerous we would have gone the other way... We still

feel that this is a safe country and we're not overly worried about

the rest of our trip, and we certainly don't want to paint a negative

picture of Latin America, we've had a great experience. I guess when

you go off the beaten path you have some of the best and worst


Anyway, we've decided to take the next couple of days to relax in a

nice hotel that is well out of our price and take it easy. When we

checked in to the hotel and told our story the owner immediately

poured us a drink. I think it may be time for another.


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  • Jordan
  • 2011-11-09T05:55:29-05:00

Update: We left the machete in Guate City. We didn't think crossing into El Salvador with a weapon was a good idea ; )


Well defended, folks. I guess you'll be getting a nice fork-mounted leather sheath made for quick access. It often goes this way with amateur highwaymen. I got held up at knife-point by a tiny guy in Jakarta many years ago. While I was pretending to reach into my pocket for cash, I flung my arm out, knocked the knife out of his hand, and shoved him into the nasty storm drain next to us. This left him thrashing neck-deep in toxic black sludge, and I felt so bad I helped him back out. I think ended up I gave him a few thousand rupiah. Poverty sucks.

  • alex
  • 2011-10-11T08:04:30-04:00

No idea how you managed to stay so calm. Unknown forest two guys with machetes = I need to change my pants time.

  • Jordan
  • 2011-10-11T07:41:28-04:00

Seeing those guys run out of the forest was quite a surprise, it all happened very quickly . I'm glad no one got hurt, but now we have to buy a new camera :(

  • Molly
  • 2011-10-11T07:29:17-04:00

Wow, quite the story guys! Thank goodness you're okay. Despite the losses, that's a pretty kick ass machete you got out of it.

  • marina
  • 2011-10-11T05:58:09-04:00

Sandra, Jordan you two are amazing! It probably doesn't feel that way because you're riding an epic journey. You're more than half way to your destination for New Years eve, no? http://esr.cc/nnLvl0