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Day Eleven: Tikal, Guatemala – San Ignacio, Belize

Submitted by on Thursday, 19 February 2009No Comment

Day Eleven
Tikal, Guatemala – San Ignacio, Belize
110 miles

While in Copan, I stayed up late with a couple of Italian guys talking about politics, the workforce, traveling of course and drinking wine. One of then told me: “When you get to Tikal go to Temple IV at 6:30 a.m.” He also recommended Calakmul in Chetumal, Mexico. I looked at the pictures and Temple IV didn’t look as good as the others but I mentioned to Lloyd and we were up to the challenge to see what it was all about.
We woke up at five in the morning and because the park opened at six, we didn’t have any breakfast. We bought our tickets and when we got in we realized the place was huge. The park is actually 222 square miles.
It took us about thirty minutes at fast pace to get to the temple and when we climbed the pyramid a French guy was there. It was 6:35 a.m. Then we saw it. The most spectacular sunrise I have ever seen. It totally eclipsed everything I’ve seen before in my lifetime so far.
The sun was rising in the East and we were sitting on the top of the pyramid which is 230 feet tall above the tree line. Like a giant waking up, the pyramids in front of us were barely visible because the sun was creating a contrast shadow against them.
At the same time the morning fog was creating white patches on the canopies. The howling monkeys were screaming and the birds were producing a cacophony of sounds ready for a master recording.  We sat in awe for more than 30 minutes without saying a word.
Shortly after a sweaty man ran up the pyramid and we all knew he heard the story of temple IV and wanted to see this paradisiacal site. When he was close by I said to him: “man…you missed it.” Immediately his red face turned into worry. “Did I?” I said “Yep. The shadows of the pyramid in front of us were creating a chief’s head in the wall on temple IV which at the same time made me look like a Mayan warrior.” There was a pause. He looked around and then we all started laughing.
His name was Imit and he was from Latvia. A total character in that he was very funny and interesting. His camera was making a sound every time he snapped a picture. Because everyone was so quite he said “I hope you guys don’t mind the noise. I am only going to take one or two hundred.” We all laughed again. The ice was broken and we talked about ourselves for awhile.
We stayed at the top of temple IV about two hours. We kept exploring Tikal but after what we had just seen, nothing was the same. Imit joined us for awhile. Then went to take a crap which he said out loud.
Lloyd and I carried on until we saw this huge steep pyramid (temple V) you could climb to the top. Instead of the stair you use a ladder that was almost vertical. The height is 150 ft. There were some people getting down and others not going up or returning half way because it just really looked frightening. History says that the Mayan practiced sacrifices and then threw the corpses down the stairs.
At the bottom I met again with the French guy I met earlier and we climbed to the top. Looking down gave me vertigo. At some point there was only the two of us at the top. Suddenly I saw Imit again climbing to the top. When he finally made it, he was surprised to see us there and I told him: “You missed it!” We started laughing again. Imit joined us for the rest of Tikal sighting.
The plan was to stay two full days in Tikal but after we were done we didn’t know what to do. Officially we were “plan less” I told Lloyd: “I heard of this place El Remate which seems nice and it is located right next to the lake.
We headed there and stopped at “La casa de don David” still undecided on what to do. We sat down the bar and got a couple of tequila shots and margaritas. We were totally relaxed and ready to take the last sip when all of the sudden Imit showed up. I immediately raised my empty mug and told him: “Dude you missed it.”
We hung out and he told us he saw our bikes and decided to drop by. He was staying only a block away.
The Belizean border was only thirty minutes away and someone had just told me that it was better to cross today (Friday) instead of Saturday. That stuck on my mind and I told Lloyd, “Let’s go to San Ignacio, Belize. It is only about an hour away and we can make some time.”
Now we had a plan. Imit was disappointed because he was enjoying the company. He was traveling by himself.  We head out to the border and the road went from nice to a few potholes to a nasty, dusty dirt road.
I was doing fifty or sixty miles per hour going through all the broken roads, hitting the biggest potholes and bottoming out the suspension of the bike. There were points my front fork made a horrible noise cause me to worry endlessly making me thing I had a broken fork. It ended up taking us an extra hour to get to the border.
Exiting Guatemala was easy and Belize seemed straight forward until after making the line, the officers asked us to pull out our luggage. I told them it was attached to the bikes, but they didn’t care, we had to comply.
We dismounted everything and they looked at us like we were insane when they saw six metal panniers and four dry bags carrying all out belongings. “Did you guys bring this on your bikes? Yes” It was hot and humid and the whole deal took about hour and a half.
San Ignacio was around the corner and we found a place with secured parking right away (Hotel Mallorca). As always we clean ourselves, changed clothes and strolled the town for a well deserved meal.  We ate curry coconut fish with the local drink called Caribbean rum. Our waiter, Swift, was a great guy and we tipped him accordingly.
Belize is like a mini Jamaica I imagine. The feeling is relaxing and laid back. There are also a lot of Asians and it seems that they own all the grocery stores. We finished our night blending in at a newly open bar called The Bunker.

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