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Author Topic: Belize-Guatemala 2012  (Read 1172 times)
andy750
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« on: November 23, 2012, 11:46:20 AM »

Nothing to do with motorcycles but here are some sample pics from my 11-day vacation: this trip had it all -  snorkelling, paddle boarding, ancient Mayan cities, river tours, caving, Rasta culture, sick stomach, Belikin beer (Belize) v Gallo beer (Guatemala), great sunsets over the oceans, great sunrises over ancient Mayan cities, meeting Mayans, waterfalls, tiny planes and tiny airstrips, overcrowded minivan taxis, friendly locals etc etc..

Arriving in Caye Caulker, Belize...



Not a whole lot going on



Hanging out at the Lizard Lounge by the split



Good place to watch the sunset





Snorkeling on the reef a mile from the island (thanks to Chris for the waterproof camera - worked great!)

The guide showing us a conch



Some of the guys dived really deep



Somme of the fishes encountered...including manta rays and nurse sharks



















White boy in the water!



The boat back to land



View from lunch spot



Day trip to the ancient Mayan city of Lamanai -water taxi then minivan then boat trip up the river:

View from the river - giant Iguana in the tree (in center of pic)



Crocodiles were all along the river banks



Lots of birds to see - tiger heron





river opened up



Lamania - ancient Maya city

The mask temple



and the crazy Mayans built this on top of the old temple



who needs a rope to climb some stairs!?



View from the top where there were hundreds of dragonflys swarming around



And then leaving Caye Caulker to go to Dangriga - home of garifuna culture - based on African slaves joining up with local indigenous Carib tribes and settling here - heavy on drumming.

Our plane:



The view



The airstrip was just big enough Wink



Got a taxi from Dangriga to Mayflower Bocswina Nature Reserve to climb a 1000-ft waterfall (Antelope Falls)  -taxi guy very cool Rasta guy who said he would be back at 4pm to pick me up....



Part of the waterfall



Our intrepid traveler



The slipper steep jungle hike to the top...ropes were provided!



the waterfall pool at the top  -it was freezing!!





but fine once you were in...



of course couldnt resist a waterfall shower...



met a couple from Oklahoma who were rappelling down the falls - if only I had know you could do this! It was the girls first time rappelling!  Met no one else for the rest of the day!





Then it was back to Dangriga for sunset - the Rasta taxi driver took me to a local road side shack for the local food - hudnut - soupy fish dish with plantains



and watched the local kids play football



view from the hotel



Next day it was taking the local bus to the Belize border to go to Guatemala...an adventure in itself!

More later
cheers
Andy










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« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2012, 02:57:25 PM »

Looks fantastic! Definitely a place I'd like to make it to eventually. Welcome home, Andy!
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« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2012, 04:48:00 PM »

Boy, Andy, that looks incredible. (In best Oliver Twist voice and accent) Please, could we have some more, sir?

Not so bad here either the last couple of days though.

Thanks and congrats on such a cool looking vacay,
Ben
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« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2012, 05:23:58 PM »

Great report and wonderful pictures, Andy! Thanks for taking the time to write and post! Impatiently waiting for more Grin
Welcome back!
Cheers,
Peter
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« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2012, 07:59:39 PM »

Ok after I experienced the Garifuna culture of Dangriga (i.e. I could hear the African drums till 5.30am Saturday morning) got up and made my way to the bus station to take the local collectivo bus to Belmopan where I was sure I could pick up the Express bus to Flores, Guatemala (I was wrong about this as the express bus dosent stop in Belmopan!).

The local bus from Dangriga to Belmopan takes about 1.5 hrs and goes up the scenic Hummingbird Highway. It stops whenever anyone puts out their hand or if someone wants to get off. At one point one of the passengers shouts to the bus driver to stop at a house at the side of the road as the house occupant comes running down the driveway with a cake box and hands it to said passenger...and we all carry on our merry way. Left Dangriga at 7.30am with some "Johnny Cakes" for breakfast ("Johnny cakes" are taken from the name Journey cakes and eaten widely in Belize -and New England in days gone by apparently according to Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnnycake - these particular ones purchased from the rotund women at the bus station, as well as some local orange/pineapple juice - were very tasty).

The bus was pretty busy and every time someone sat next to me they wanted to chat to me - so I met a 62 yr old proud black man who was at one point a member of the Royal British Honduras Police Force (Belize used to be called British Honduras before independence in 1981) who filled me in on the past glory days, met Simon Casey a white/Hispanic Belizean who worked for the Mennonites (largest farm group in Belize) and was learning German and Mayan apparently and who espoused the racially tolerant Belizean society but then told me he was very much homophobic (male-male relationships are illegal in Belize but female-female is legal). 

Got to Belmopan discovered the Express bus didnt stop there and was advised by a local taxi guy to take the local bus to Benque (Belize border town) cross the border and take a local collectivo minibus to a road junction, get off there and get on another one to Tikal - famous ancient Mayan city in North Guatemala. So thats what I did Wink. Local bus to the border, taxi from the border to next Guatemalan town with onward transport (1 mile from border) then collectivo minibus. I wont go into all the details but suffice to say it was an adventure traveling with the locals.

Once on the Guatemala side only Spanish was spoken (I have no Spanish Wink). The taxi from the border raced into the town and screamed to a stop behind a minivan and the taxi guy rushed to get me aboard as it was about to take off....The minibus (actually a 12-seater mini-van) had a hand-written sign on the back saying Flores, and a roof rack for the luggage - the father drive the minivan and the 13 yr old son handled the passengers and the luggage.  I was quickly squeezed in the back seat (luggage was taken up onto the roof rack and I hoped it would still be thee when we arrived at where we were going!) with a fellow traveler - a Guatemalan economist who now consults to small businesses and teaches at University - he was very informative about the Central America economies as we sped along a mixture of paved/unpaved road. At one point we passed a broken down minivan and the passengers who were milling around in the shade were beckoned to come on over and pile in...the younger male members who had been sitting comfortably in my minivan were told to go up to the roof which they dutifully did. Everyone else piled in. End result was 26 people in the taxi/minivan  Cool



and later after some people had got off



At the junction where I got off for Tikal this was the first thing I saw



and then finally made it to the gates of Tikal National Park at 2.30pm





Since I was staying in the park at the Jaguar Inn (highly recommend it) I had to wait till 3.30pm to get a ticket that would be valid the next day as well...so had lunch here



Notice the couple in the foreground - Wes and Stephanie from California who were on their honeymoon. I would later get a ride with them to cover the remaining 17 km to the Jaguar Inn. Very nice couple!

The Jaguar Inn was very comfortable and clean and Tomingo the guy behind the desk took good care of me. Took a quick dash into Tikal to try and catch the sunset and made a decision to head to Temple 6 (not the best choice but it worked out in the end):

On the way in pass this mighty Ceiba tree - a sacred Mayan tree



and then Temple 6....



Just as the sun hits the roofcomb on top (the roofcomb would originally have had stucco carvings on it)





So then I rush over to Temple 1 and the Great plaza to see if I can see the sunset in a better place...

Back of the huge Temple 1



The side viewed through the Ball Court (foreground)



The Royal palaces next to the Ball Court



and Andy realizes a dream Smiley



And tomorrow would see a thorough visit to the place with a 4am start! More later...

Andy





 Arranged a sunrise tour with Jose starting at 4am, had some local Mayan cuisine washed down with the local Guatemalan beer (Gallo) and lay in the hammock for a bit listening to the howler monkeys in the jungle, before going to bed.

Sunset tour next...



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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2012, 09:13:09 AM »

Wow...you do get around, don't you? We did a Belize trip 5 or 6 years ago, most of the same highlights of the first bit, (probably patted the same nurse shark), but not to the level of immersion that you always seem to dive into! We did get out to that first ruin, and went tubing on a jungle river through caves on the way back, (somewhat surreal), but were much more conventionally lazy tourists.

 I'll wear my Belikin Beer t-shirt to the next beer night. And I can't wait to hear some Glaswegian flavored spanish.

-other peter
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« Reply #6 on: November 25, 2012, 10:46:18 AM »

Very nice Andy.  I am just a touch jealous   Tongue. Hopefully you brought rnough sunscreen and lathered up regularly. 


Other peter- you live!
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« Reply #7 on: November 26, 2012, 10:04:14 AM »

Treeve - I had SPF75 = sunblock! And when snorkeling reapplied all the time and still got a little red tinge.

Tikal National Park, Guatemala,

Arranged a sunrise tour with Jose and awoke to clear starry skys at 4am. Trekking into the jungle covered ruins at night was definitiely interesting. We headed for one of the tallest pyramids - Temple IV to watch the sunrise...we arrived their first got the best seat by the top of the temple and waited while many other like-minded people turned up...

Before dawn



The sunrise tribe waiting...







Here we go...



Temple 1 and 2 are in the foreground



Its going to be a good day





Apparently we were all very lucky as usually its misty and damp over the jungle in the morning

Here are some of the sights I saw around Tikal...its a huge city and most structures have been uncovered yet.









Before reconstruction



Immediately after



and today



Keep in mind all these buildings and temples would have been painted orange or blue or red...paint was a mix of ash and limestone to make coloured stucco. So they had to cut down a lot of trees...to build the cities and then paint them...over and over...



Some temples are partially restored only



Some not at all







Plenty of very tame coati around...





And wedding pics on the Great Plaza in front of the mammoth Temple 1 (or known as Temple of the Great Jaguar)





Temple 5 viewed from the Royal palaces





Royal palaces





The beds were a bit small though



Temple 1 in all its glory



The older temples now known as the North Acropolis



The Mayan elite liked to sharpen their teeth and inlay them with jewels





and here is how they built on older temples...

start off with this..



build this on top



then this a few hundred years later



And since it is a motorcycle forum...lots of bikes around in Guatemala



And met a guy from San Diego who had been 3 weeks on the road on his highly kitted out GS1150 - which looked massive in Guatemala!

Thats it! Trip over and back to work. A great time indeed and definitely recommend it as a place to visit. What I failed to do was take more photos of the people I met (locals, guides, hotel owners, taxi guys, fellow travelers etc etc) who were all super-friendly, kind and very open to discussing anything and everything.

cheers
Andy

 




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« Reply #8 on: November 26, 2012, 04:46:46 PM »

Cheers, Andy!

You definitely had a great time. Thanks for all the info and pictures!

PP
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« Reply #9 on: November 26, 2012, 07:57:47 PM »

Thanks guys glad you all enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoyed being there and taking them!

cheers
Andy

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« Reply #10 on: November 26, 2012, 08:55:16 PM »

I dont know if you recall this, but there was a story which I think was true that Mick Jagger had a precious stones placed in one of his teeth, fwiw. Great trip report Andy!
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« Reply #11 on: November 26, 2012, 08:58:21 PM »

I took the teeth photos with you in mind Ben!

The Mayans also sharpened their teeth for beauty purposes - seemed to be quite accomplished dentists!
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