Day 37 – Green Guatemala

Up early today to head to Guatemala, with quite a bit of apprehension.  At least the first couple of hours will be familiar roads of Belize on the way past San Ignacio.  The border is pretty typical from what I’ve seen, and leaving Belize is just as simple, friendly, and efficient as coming in.  Going into Guatemala is equally easy, but very, very slow.  A young kid has latched onto me to make sure I go to all the right buildings, in the right order.  I don’t really need him as my Spanish is getting me by, and the signage is descent, but I’m sure he can use a little bit of coin for his efforts.  Once I have all the correct paperwork in order I give him a few dollars and a toy water pistol.  He heads off with a big smile, and I’m now in Guatemala.

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…and I’m in Guatemala

Getting away from the border town the first thing that strikes me is how lush and green everything is, and that despite a few potholes, the roads are once again beautiful winding mountain ribbons.  The sun is out, and I’m making good time towards Flores and Tikal.  Several times throughout the ride I glimpse military platoons conducting exercises in the jungle, and I must say it is a little disconcerting to come around a bend in the road and see guys with machine guns held at eye level peaking out of the jungle at you!

My first impressions of Guatemala is that everything is so lush and green, and wherever there isn’t jungle there are wonderfully thick crops planted on mass.

Before long I turn north on the road to Tikal, the most famous Mayan ruins in Guatemala.  You access the archeological site via a 30 km long wonderful road through a jungle animal preserve.  The road is signed at 40kmph, and every couple of kms there are strange animal crossing signs… Snakes, Turtles, Coati, Crocodiles, and even Jaguar.  At 80 kmph I never saw anything cross the road.

Once at the ruins I make my way around the massive site, all well preserved in the midst of a dense jungle.  Many of the buildings are still engulfed by trees, and covered with soil and vegetation, yet to be uncovered.  Along the way I run into the owner of a BMW 1200GS I saw in the lot.  We`re both marching around in our riding pants and boots, dripping from the humidity and heat.  He is from Durango, MX, and has been on the road for 7 months, on his way home from Tierra Del Fuego.

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The famous view of one of Tikal’s pyramid towers

Before long I realise I need to get back on the road to make it to Flores before dark.  Back at the entrance, which is the only place where merchants can hock their wares (unlike Mexico where they are on you constantly while you`re trying to enjoy the ruins), I find a present for Rebecca.  We haggle back and forth on price.  I try to get him down a bit more, and to throw in a cold bottle of Coke.  He won`t budge on the price, but will give me a Coke.  I say if you won`t go cheaper, I want a Coke AND a Snickers!  He counters with a Snickers, but no Coke.  I have water on the bike, so we shake hands, both happy with our deal and banter.

And with that I`m on my way out of Tikal, back onto the jungle reserve road…. sort of… there`s a problem with the bike.

<insert cliff hanger>

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The Ceiba tree, sacred to Mayan, and DAMN impressive and tall

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A pack of Coati wander through the ruins

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