We headed out early to beat the heat. We got a tip to check out Mariscos on the southeastern edge of Lago de Izabel. We took a side trip to go investigate, but were unimpressed. By now it was 9 am and sweltering and we wanted to jump in the lake to cool off, but even this didn’t seem too inviting. We had lot’s of driving to do, so we decided to just grind it out.
There is livestock everywhere – being herded down the middle of the road and seemingly on every truck. It was very slow going for almost 7 hours.
The highlights of the drive were getting the occasional ‘thumbs up’ or peace sign from passing cars – something we never saw in Mexico. One guy even started frantically waving an American flag out his window and really wanted us to pull over. Even the guy at the gas station had lots of questions about the bus and called it un classico.
We had been invited to Coban by Francisco – the person behind Club La Fusca – and were welcomed by his great family. We were actually supposed to call him when we got into town, but we first stopped for lunch. Before we knew it, one of Francisco’s buddies had spotted our bus and called him up. They found us first and surprised us there.
Francisco and family were generous enough to host us for our entire stay here. He invited over some VW buddies from the club for dinner and we showed off the bus some more. It’s always nice to hang out with some other aficionados – even if we do have trouble communicating. All really great folks.
Francisco is a pretty interesting guy. He’s studied Mayan history extensively and has his own personal collection of Mayan artifacts. He’s got a collection of old VW’s – a rarity around there, and even recently acquired a splittie. In Guatemala, this is a big deal. You would think that their proximity to Mexico would mean that there would be plenty of air-cooled VW’s here, but there are virtually none.
Of particular interest to me is his connection to Guatemalan orchids. His grandfather was a pioneer in preserving hundreds of species of indigenous species. We heard stories about conflicts with other (foreign) collectors and hair-raising run-ins with the military in the rain forests during the recent Civil War.
Francisco’s family is working hard to preserve his grandfather’s legacy and his family is currently building a museum and preserve just outside of town in the rain forest.
Francisco took us to his grandfather’s house to see the over 1000 species (20,000 plants total) his grandfather collected from the forest over his lifetime. Afterward, we drove out to the forest to see the progress on their orchid preserve. In about a year from now, their orchid preserve will be complete and ready for visitors.