Now for the exciting news - now that we are all assembled, the other five groups are banking buku steps in anticipation of that arrival. They have successfully covered the 2,700 miles from St. Thomas USVI to Brownsville to cover for the last business location and can start on the next stage of the Quest for Rio.
From Brownsville, Texas, our fearless group crosses the Rio Grande, then follows the rough line of the river west to Ciudad Apodaca, then veering south through Saltillo (on route 57), through the states of Nuevo Leon, San Luis Potosi, Guanajuato, Queretaro and finally Hidalgo before arriving in the capital of Mexico City, a jaunt of 763 miles.
With more energy to burn, the track continues southeast through the states of Puebla, Veracruz and Chiapas to near the southernmost part of Mexico (and in the process, within a stone's throw of four of the nine largest volcanos in Mexico, including Popocatepetl, the second highest peak in Mexico )...crossing the entire country with mountains and all (and by the way, thank the maker we don't actually have to walk over those mountains!), until crossing the border into Guatemala.
The group will hugely appreciate its relative home bases, as we rest for the day in Santa Barbara, Guatemala, perhaps the poorest town in one of the most impoverished states in Guatemala. Not much shade either - the natural forest has been largely obliterated by over-farming. The weather is actually pretty comfortable with averages between 75 and 80 during the day and in the 60s at night.
A total of roughly 1,360 miles. The fun starts as we navigate our way to Rio.