Belize into Guatemala

Trip Start Jul 15, 2009
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Trip End Jul 15, 2010


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Thursday, January 28, 2010

We spent 6 days just hanging in the small Belizean village of San Ignacio. It's a cool town but strange too with a handful of Americans who must have done runners, or hippies who have come and never left! Kinda surprising as Belize in not cheap. Some gringos even spoke the local Kriol lingo (a Caribbean version of the English language) we stayed at campgrounds run by Frank and the owner’s daughter. There was a cycle tourist who had been living there, now next door, he didn’t want to return to Switzerland and had his bike stolen so was happily stuck selling street hotdogs for a crust.

Bob the guy I met and hung out with for a week in New Mexico emailed to say he was on his way south to Costa Rica so we once he joined us we all took a drive out to see the Mayan ruins of Caracol. If you get to the national park gate by 9:30 you go with the armed convoy for the 50mile trip out along the Belize-Guatemala border(The road had a few robberies in 2006) We missed the convoy but weren’t really worried, we couldn’t have kept up anyway. The road was really suited to 4WD’s and Bob’s little ford lightweight focus thing, lovely car that it is, was not up to some of the rough parts. Bob’s car has probably fallen apart now after its beating! Still, where the ford made it some army truck didn’t and had previously overturned. The ruins were good but I’m starting to feel ruined from seeing to many ruins.

At the Belize/Guatemala border I just crossed the 7000km mark. The border crossing was straight forward and on entering Guatemala prices fell back to a cycle tourist’s budget. Once again the scene felt immediately different on the other side of the fence, especially going back to Spanish again.

Passing an army base we tried asking if we could stay on their football pitch but our rough learnt Spanish seemed to have gone out the window and the cadets couldn’t understand us, or either were perplexed to see gringos out there on bikes. We rode on and found a nice place hidden away from the road and from out of nowhere came a 12 or so kids, all from the one family. They were awesome, trying to help us build up our tents and looking for red ants so not to get attacked again. I’m sure the reddys could quickly destroy my tent if erected directly on top. We entertained the kids then sending them home once dinner was cooked. They were so cheerful, happy and polite. In the middle of the night Nancy was up for No 1’s and saw loads of flash lights approaching the tents. Freaking out she called out and the reply came from the military and there commander, who briefly questioned her. Glad I was asleep at the time!

Next stop was the massive Maya site of Tikal. The ride there was hard and hot. I haven’t been on serious hills for a long time and these didn’t even make that grade, however, and in 36 degree heat you wonder how far you can go before soon enough it’s too much and you faint. My daily water consumption has tripled since hitting the tropics after Mexico. We camped on the Tikal campgrounds under grass hut roofs while some people used hammocks. An early morning tour followed by lunch and a wander around to the missed buildings, took a whole day from 6am to dark, some people can spend a whole week here? Along the tour I had a hand size Tarantula crawling over my arm which was a buzz. Tikal had an amazing collection of temples and buildings which once was home to 150,000 people, dating back to 700bc. Climbing the huge stairs was a mission. This city Tikal use to war with the last Maya city I visited, Caracol, sacrificing the loosing king to their god.

The road from here was rolling and mostly dirt with climbs so steep I had to push at one stage. Around the beautiful turquoise lake was a small island town of Flores. A real little gem, with nice laid back restaurants and really good cheap eats.

Next it’s back into the mountains...
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