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Archive for October 24th, 2009

Day 320 – 24th October 09

Posted by TravellingStrom on October 24, 2009

Saturday – Santa Elena, Guatemala

Another day another country 🙂

I had a reasonable sleep on a basic bed and went up for some breakfast around 8am. They had only just opened, but after chatting with the lovely Julie, I found out for some reason I had gained an hour 😕 It was now Central America time, which is an hour less, so they must not observe daylight saving here, which makes sense this close to the equator.

The brekky was great and I had to laugh when I told sleepy head Vincent he was now up way earlier than he expected 😆 While having breakfast the power shut down, so that meant no internet and no chance to post the extra blog I had written, bummer, no worries, get on the road earlier I guess 🙂 As I was ahead of time and wanted to buy some stickers of Belize, I left V still packing and headed to town via some small rough streets, I found a bank, after going the wrong way down a few streets,(signs, what signs, honest there are none) and a security guard said I could park here while I did what I needed. Basically I had no money, and needed some to buy my way out of the country (exit tax) so I grabbed a quick BD$100 and went and grabbed some stickers from a shop up the road 🙂

It was a short ride of about 20 minutes to the border and this is where I met Sebastian, he is the fourth rider from the group I had met the other day and is also riding a good bike 🙂

To leave Belize you need to go to immigration and get an exit passport stamp and of course pay a fee of BD$30, but, because I was here for only 24 hours I did not need to pay the extra $7.50 for environment impact tax. Once this is done a tricky bit of walking now takes me past immigration, cut through the building into the ENTRY side and here is where the bike permit is cancelled, sounds weird but that is the way it works 🙂 Then ride the bike the 100 metres to the Guatemala side of the border AFTER changing all your cash into Quetzals as this side is a better rate and less chance of being ripped off. Now, the entry to Guatemala is pretty straight forward, the first bit is easy, get a stamp for myself at immigration, this is V waiting for a personal entry stamp.

Then it is on to the next line which it the vehicle entry permit which is a little more time consuming and you need copies of paperwork to hand. With the local power cut, this meant for Sebastian and V a walk across the river into Guatemala proper, where the photocopy shop had power, the one this side was not working of course! I had no issues as I had copies of everything the customs official needed(drivers licence, passport and vehicle registration) and he proceeded to check the paperwork and the vehicle for VIN and colour etc. There was a fumigation point, but I had been waved past it but cars probably need to stop. After checking the documents and that the bike had been cancelled out of Belize, he gave me a receipt for my documents and passport and kept them, I then went to the bank window and paid Q40 for an entry permit. Once I had that I got back into line again until the same chap noticed me, I showed him I had paid and he gave me my stuff back which included the windscreen sticker for the bike. The only thing I am not sure about is insurance, because there is no information on this and no one said go buy any! Anyway, I was finally in Guatemala, I said farewell to V as he was going south and what a welcome to the country, the road was atrocious, not what I had expected!!

Well, this was a turn up for the books and it did not stop, it was rough potholed dirt and loose crap for miles, so I soon stopped and dropped the tyre pressure.

V went roaring past, he does not believe in less air, Sebastian stopped to see what I was doing, but he kept on going, but after about 5 miles I saw him stopped and he was also doing the same thing, it certainly made the riding easier 🙂 The funny thing was, a few miles later the road turned to paved and after 5 miles of that, I stopped and reinflated the tyres again. It was stinking hot and I hoped the road stayed paved, as I would hate to stop every 20 miles to play with tyres! Cows were back on the menu as well!!!

I kept on going on this mainly nice bit of paved road, maybe one day they will continue it to the border? Some parts of the road were atrocious, like they ran out of funds for 100 metres here and there and it was full of potholes that could swallow a mini, no time to slow down, power on and hope to skip them! I got to the main junction of Tikal and Flores where I intended to stay and stopped to double check, as Flores was not mentioned on the sign, it was Santa Elena. This is where Sebastian caught up to me and he mentioned that Tikal was closed at 5pm, so rather than find a motel and backtrack, I decided to follow him and we headed to the pyramids.

Now, the park rangers stop you at the entrance, but not for money like I thought. Basically, they write your licence plate on a ticket and the time you are there, then at the end of the 17km ride through the jungle, they will check the ticket and see if you went over the speed limit of 45kmh, which is in place to protect the animals 🙂 Quite tricky I thought, so off we went, being extra careful of speeding and looking out for animals. And, judging by the warning signs, there are some dangerous creatures here, including jaguars, scrub turkeys, snakes and some weird looking beastie(no offence m8)! And what a collection, after travelling all this way I finally get something different for my sign collection 🙂 😆

Now, these were not turkeys and I still have no idea what they are.

We did not run anything over and at the end of 20 minutes we arrived at the park, where no one checked our speeding ticket, hmmm! After locking everything together on my bike and paying the Q150 entry fee, I headed up to the ruins but on the way found out about the monkeys and the national tree.

On the way I spotted an ant trail where they were either moving nest or making a new one, they were all carrying a small piece of leaf each 🙂

Sebastian was up here chatting to a family, Sebastian is from Argentina originally and knows the language of course, they were checking out the monkeys up in the tree above them.

Not having any site map it was just choose a direction and soon we were amongst the buildings, these pyramids are a lot different than the ones I had seen earlier in my trip. These were a lot older for a start, having been started about 600BC and they are steeper and taller, plus they have these ‘cocks comb’ type of effect on the top, they looked great and well worth the diversion.

There were also a lot of old alters and things where apparently you do not put your arse! 😆

There were some of those hanging scrotum things up in the trees as well and a local guide had a bird book and showed us the bird that makes them, but they have flown away for the winter at this time. It is the nice coloured one in the centre with the red beak and yellow tail called Montezumos Oropendola.

After climbing up some rickety looking, but quite sturdy wooden stairs I had a better view of the area.

Did I mention it was hot and humid? Well, it was and of course it was in a tropical jungle so it did take some effort to move and the jungle actually surrounded most of the ruins, with pathways and occasional views through the trees of other pyramids. I split up from Sebastian and headed towards some of the other temples.

After another strenuous climb, these calf muscles hate me by now, I had an excellent view of the tips of the various temples poking through the canopy, it was awesome 🙂

As I walked around somewhere (no map, no idea) I could see ruins being repaired and some just covered by jungle and then arrived at another impressive pyramid.

I spotted Sebastian taking a photo of a beastie, like on the sign, and it seemed calm until we got close then it went down the hill, while up above was a small group of spider monkeys, asleep with their arms and legs hanging on each side of a branch 🙂

We scared the beastie so much it ran right down the hill into something!!! 😯 I have no idea what but a fight started and lots of screaming and carrying on, oops, sorry m8 😦 I think they both survived, but the monkeys were interested and went and checked it out. I, in the meantime had decided to climb yet another pyramid, although this time, the steps were steep and I mean steeper than what had gone before 🙂 The wooden steps allow the structure to survive the people, so it is a good idea and the views once again cannot be expressed by these photos.

I was about had it for the day, the heat has sapped my strength but on the way to the car park I spotted a beastie and although it had a long snout which I thought meant anteater, it was chewing on a stick, very cute looking though 🙂

At the car park we bumped into the owners of a ‘trailer’ (collective noun 🙂 ) of Harleys, they turned out to be from Honduras and mentioned the fact that Flores, the town where I was going to look for a hotel had no hotels with secure parking, so I took their advice and decided to go look for the Mayaland Hotel in Santa Elena instead. It would be fun to have a beer with fellow riders.

We once again stayed to the speed limit back down the parkway and once again did not have our tickets checked. The sun was going down and it was a tad cooler now and when we eventually arrived in Santa Elena it took a while to find the right place, but we did. I hit the ATM and booked a room, while S did some internet thing next door before deciding it was too late to ride south and got himself a room.

I went up the road for dinner and had a nice feed, even though the place was empty, I was starving, no lunch does that to you. After that I fixed the hotels internet and sat down near the bar near the pool and answered some stuff and posted a blog, I also uploaded a heap of photos while I had a good connection, that way I can post text on a bad connection and still get an entry done 🙂 Sebastian seemed to want to be alone, so fair enough, I just did my own thing and had a few quiet beers and later, the other bikers turned up but decided they were not having beer as they were leaving at 5am, hmmmm, double ear plugs are on the cards, that Harley noise inside this enclosed courtyard with my room just above, eek!

I crashed out around 10 as I had a long day tomorrow, only about 550km, but I had no idea what terrain nor what type of condition the roads would be in, if today is anything to go by, not good at all. It has been an interesting few days, getting through some borders with no issues was great, I hope they are all like these, but I am sure there will be snags along the way.

Day – 122 miles and 196 km
Trip – 41,594 miles and 66,939 km



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