Thursday, 22 May 2008

Day 7 (Belize - Guatamala)

Well shockingly the day started without a 6am alarm call. Today was the simple matter of popping over to Tikal for the night.

Our bags were collected from our room at 10 am and rather than suffer the bumpy road on the way out of Caa Creek we arranged for us to be able to Canadian canoe down the Mecal river for about 4 miles and be collected just after the main bridge at San Ignatio. Well the trip went well and it has to be one the best ways to leave a hotel, (my personal favorite was when I left Hotel Arts in Barcelona on F1 GP Sunday as the valet brought the Merc up and Adrian & i in shorts and t shirts swan though the that corporate guests of Ferrari and Williams to get into the car and drop the hood and drive off) Anyway, where was I, Canoe river - it is a wide river with jungle on both sides (often steep cliffs with trees hanging off the sides) With brids flying from the sides it was a very peaceful trip. It took about 1h 45 mins in about 90 odd degrees and some umpteen millions percent humidity. It was great fun although my legs got sunburned, we were collected from the concrete Jetty by our driver and we set off to Guatemala.

The border was as you would picture a chaotic Latin American border crossing, loads of people, vendors selling everything inc Coca Cola ldo, the worst part of the crossing was the fact that we had to get out of our air conditioned mini bus and get into the so so so hot air, it must have passed 100 in the sun, more stamps in my passport with is always good, and after a quick chat with the Belizian immigration official about the prospects of Man U v Chelsea (they are popular here as any where) we finally got though and got back int he van and headed into Guatemala. The roads were as bad as Belize and this particular road was made of Limestone and was very white and so when the truck drove across it, it caused dust everywhere and was hard to see in front of you which given the driving of local road users was a worry.

We had lunch just outside the entrance to the Tikal reserve and a rather good Gallo beer (Guatemalan) much lighter than the Belecan Belizian beer more like Corona. We met our rather excitable but very knowledgeable guide here and he would take us though the Tikal Mayan ruins. The bus dropped us off about 4pm and we had about 2.5 hours touring the site before it went dark. Old buildings are impressive but after a while my brain cell blurs them together and whilst the temples were indeed impressive and the fact that these could have been built while western Europe was in the dark ages - amazing. We ended the tour on top of temple no 4 with the goal of seeing the sun set over the jungle, however there was so much smoke over the forest due to slash and burn farming there was not going to be any sunset worth having, and there was cloud building up as well. The fact that the temple was covered in scaffolding meant that we at least would not fall off it but the west side was not accessible as the rangers were wanting a bribe for us to see that side anyway.

We then wandered back though the jungle with he armed rangers flowing us for our protection and to make sure the park was clear for the night. As we walked back the lighting and thunder we could see in the distance caught up with us and we got very wet as we walked back in darkness. This was the first rain since Feb in that region. Fortunately we were staying in the hotel in the park so there was no travailing to do to get there.

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