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You wouldn't know it by the splashes the


riders in front of me were making with their rear tires. I backed off a little bit so I wouldn’t muddy up my visor. Eventually, they noticed me and stopped. I asked if I could ride to El Chol with them. The oldest and possibly the best rider said, “Si.” He was “Mister Cool” in his black jacket, riding along as if it was nothing. Other than the rain, the ride was just a walk in the park for him. He’d probably done it a hundred times before, maybe even under worse condi- tions. The rider in front of me was doubled up on some kind of a hot red and white motocross-style bike. He would occasion- ally nail the throttle just for fun, throwing mud all over. The third rider was tripled up and seemed to be riding along just fine. These punks were in their element. With no warning, we left the paved road


for a muddy, slippery track leading down to the Rio Motagua. It was a steep trail with rivulets and puddles strategically placed so I could not maintain any sort of a nice line. Here and there were a few rocks varying in size from a tennis ball to a cantaloupe to throw me off course or dump my sorry ass in the bush. They made me wish that I had never gotten off the bus. At my age, just a little bit of adventure goes a long way. Loosely holding on to El Toro’s handle-


bars, I slid on down to the valley floor, dodging most of the rocks and even a few of the bigger mud puddles. I rode much faster than usual, because I had no rear brake and grabbing the front brake would’ve dumped me into a puddle. I don’t like to lie too much, but would you believe that I didn’t drop it? I was glad that was over! Since the rains had stopped, riding on the


With no warning, we left the paved road for a muddy, slippery track leading down to the Rio Motagua. It was a steep trail with rivulets and puddles strategically placed so I could not maintain any sort of a line.


The rains tapered off to nothing, as did


the fog. I breathed in the clean smell of the moist, dark soil, rainwater on the leaves and the occasional whiff of tropical wood smoke seeping through the cracks of the plank houses hidden back in the gently sloping hills of the cloud forest. There were a few birds and the occasional sound of droplets of water slowly oozing downhill, falling from leaf to leaf. The powerful river below, Rio Motagua, is the largest in the country and had already taken out two bridges. Its power continued to grow.


The Motagua Valley is the largest drain-


age basin in Guatemala. It marks the tec- tonic boundary between the North American and Caribbean Plates, which explains the numerous earthquakes in the region. It also has the only known source of jade in Mesoamerica, which was very important in trade during pre-colonial times. It begins in the dense pine and cloud forests near the highland market town of Chichicastenango. Farther downstream, ironically, is one of the driest areas in Cen- tral America.


flat floodplain of the river was pure joy, a welcome relief from the unusually heavy fall rains we had earlier. There were even a few blue patches in the sky. The small yel- low flowers had six ovoid petals that lit up in the sunshine. It's a whole different biome here. The bluish purple flowers looked like a lupine of some sort from a distance, but I was fooled again. The red ones might have been orchids. I'd seen an unusual tree by the side of the road and wouldn't see another one like it for a half an hour. Earlier, I’d read that three acres of cloud forest may have over 750 different kinds of trees. It was so cool riding along at a moderate


pace…until I caught up with them. I couldn’t believe it. The first rider, “Mister


June 2016 BMW OWNERS NEWS 81


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