On 5th May we went to Mexico. Easy enough to get on the right bus and we were put into the front seats by the driver. Four hours down a bumpy, half-made road to Bethel where passports are stamped out of Guatemala. Then another half an hour of bumpy road to La Technica where we paid 100 Qs for a lancha across to Frontera Corazol. We stayed in the Jaguar ecolodge which I kept thinking of as a reservation. I guess that's unkind - it's an economic project for the local people - so they can earn a living without chopping down and burning the rainforest. Yes, that is a real issue here. Somewhere there must be a balance between preserving this essential and beautiful resource and actually allowing people to feed their families. The forest recovers from agriculture within about thirty years. Unfortunately it is more profitable to sell the land to cattle farmers and cattle prevent the forest from regenerating. That, at any rate, is what we have been told.
The Jaguar Ecolodge was very expensive (well, by Guatemala standards) - more than twice the price of anything we had paid up till then. That would have been
OK if they had accepted cards. It would have been OK if there had been an ATM less than half a day's travel distance (in Palenque). Solo Effectivo. Worrying at first as we didn't have enough US dollars (and we had no pesos at that point) but it turned out we could pay in Quetzales. So we did. Three nights. Though, in the long term, we got the money for the third night back and only stayed for two. We would have liked to have stayed the third night but we ran out of cash - we wouldn't have been able to eat - let alone visit Bonampak. So, that's the second time now we have failed to get to Bonampak. Clearly we were not fated to see the murals - or maybe it's a treat reserved for our futures...
Frontera Corazol is a non-town. Tour groups stay (or lunch) in the ecolodge - but it's a dusty, small town. You can hang out by the river, watching the wildlife. We learned where the howler monkeys hung out and spent time watching them. We had dinner that night in the complex then got room beers from a shop up
the road. Listened to the jungle.
Thursday 6th was Election Day back home. We commissioned a Lancha and headed to Yaxchilan. In a boat. Expensive (hence no dinero) but worth every Quetzal. The river trip itself was spectacular. We saw many animals - small herons, parrots, humming birds and a fer de lance (rare to see snakes although that particular beast is common enough in those parts). There were some mosquitoes but not an excessive number. Amazing carvings on the underside of the lintels of many doorways. Some have been removed and can be seen in the British Museum. Sadly we only had two hours there so back in the boat for another spectacular ride. Back in the hut we counted our money and decided to leave a day early. We ate well that night though room beers and jungle sounds were the sole post dinner amusement.
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