Published: September 5th 2008September 5th 2008
Last day in Mexico
Bumpy boat ride, for over an hour in a crappy boat. One of the outboards broke down, there were cockroaches onboard… not very inspiring, but it was worth it in the end…… I got to swim alongside a whale shark for a few hundred yards. He went real slow, I could see little fish riding on his fins and swimming in and out of his mouth… I got the whole ride all to my self….fantastic!
Rural Mexican living conditions looks very poor, one room huts…. but the Spanish colonial towns are delightful.
We have now seen a lot of the ancient Mayan civilisation ruins (discovered and excavated during the last 150 years) that have been partially or fully restored. I’m not sure which are the best, but Palenque must be high on our list. We stayed in a small hut in the jungle, with what we have now learnt, were Howler Monkeys in the distance…. One of these kept us awake at about 3.30am, the noise can only be likened to a large asthmatic lion prowling around outside. (We now know these monkeys calls can be heard for 3 miles.) very worrying at the time!
Whale Shark fin
Aug. 12 hours travel to Belize city, then hour water taxi to Caye Caulker (which turned out to be very close on the map to where we left from!)
Coming through the border crossing we were warned that they’d try to get money from us, and to insist on a receipt… enough to put them off!
We crossed the border into Belize and travelled most of the day on a rather less comfortable bus. In Orange Walk Town the bus stopped (despite being full) and about 20 people piled on. A policeman came along and said the bus was overloaded and could not leave, the women refused to get off, lots of shouting in Creole, (the swearing we could easily understand!)We eventually made it to Belize City where we took a water taxi to Caye Caulker.
Caye Caulker is a small Caribbean (mosquito infested) island, made bearable by the ridiculously cheap sea food dishes…. Lobster and shrimps (we’d say huge king prawns) are cheaper than fish fingers! Please try and read this is Rasta/reggae speak! …“Dee lobster is wey, wey cheaper dan de fishfingers…marn!” …..though English is spoken the locals speak Creole.
Hotel is a bit scruffy but it’s
right on the beach, facing east, so we get a great sunrise.
We took a very slow, chilled out ride in a very colourful old boat (overloaded, with no life vests), owned by a local Rastafarian guy who took us (very slowly) to the local reefs. Taller than it was wide, it listed dangerously quite often, “Balance de boot” was screamed frequently by the bossy, dreadlocked woman on the lower deck who seemed to be in overall charge. However the guy was very knowledgeable and took us to see and hold tiny seashorses and sting rays. Apparently the Mayans used the rays barb for their blood letting rituals … you don’t say!
We fed the frigate birds by hand from the boat, and drunk rum punch from a coconut shell. We visited a coral garden with great visibility, loads of pretty fish and colourful corals.
Second stop in Belize was San Ignacio for some river tubing and caving in the jungle… great fun.
On to Gautemala now, beautiful scenery, but again, very poor living conditions in rural areas. We’ve come to the lovely colonial island town of Flores situated on a large lake. We set of at 3 this
morning to visit Tikal, the largest Mayan city, in the jungle. Beautiful and unlike the touristy Mexican sites… not a single vendor in sight! Gautemala seems to be a hassle free zone, which is a welcome relief after the constant seller hassle in Mexico… even when you’re eating.
The Tikal ruins are spectacular and a huge engineering feit. We walked through the jungle in the dark, climbed 300 steps to watch the sun rise and hear the wildlife awaken. We heard the early morning calls of the monkeys and birds but it was too misty to see the sun rise so we had to climb up again later in the day… It was damn hot! … but worth it to see for miles over the canopy. The wildlife was great, we saw toucans, spider monkeys, quarimundis and a group of howler monkeys, who were so impressed by our intrusion, that they tried to wee on us. Having failed to make us run, they proceeded to throw poo at us… luckily missing, but very funny.
Long, hot day on a cramped private mini bus to Rio Dulce, travelling through the beautiful countryside. Stayed in a jungle lodge on the edge
Brain coral with fish
of the river. More mozzies and huge spiders in the shower!
Gautemalan showers are interesting… look like food mixers or hair dryers with real dodgy electrics.
Went along the river to Livingstone, a Carribean town where Garifudi is spoken. The river leads to Lake …… popular with boaty lot, mooring up I safe water for hurricane season.
To Antigua by private mini van. A gorgeous, bohemian colonial town, once the capital before a devastating earthquake…. Cobbled streets, brightly painted houses, beautiful hidden courtyards with water features and exotic plants. The lovely old churches lay in ruins, never rebuilt after the quake.
He town is now an arty place and very popular for Spanish courses.
Much cooler now we’re up in the highlands.
3 chicken bus rides to Panajachel, to lake Atiltan ….. Packed buses….nutty drivers….unmade roads…great fun.
There are more photos below