Chris' 1994  R100GS/PDChris' new bike, a 1996 F650 ULTIMATE JOURNEY Erin's 1997  F650
Living a Dream . . . 2 Live-N-Ride

Mar 2nd, 2003.-- Guatemala = Country 48 & Day 1,382

Credit to Road to Tikal

-- Story by Chris --

Weds, Feb 26th: The road from Omoa to the border town of Corinto was washboard, hard-packed dirt. The trucks were moving slowly, kicking up a lot of dust, but the scenery and winding road was otherwise quite pleasant. Some of the bridges were reminiscent of Cambodia. It took us about an hour to reach the border-post for Honduras, but once there, the exit process was swift and efficient. A few kilometers later, there was a sign saying "Guatemala", and at its edge, fresh pavement began.

It was another 10km to the border-post. On the way, we passed a small, rural bank, and changed some money. The tellers were dressed quite sharply (crisp white shirts and matching ties), and they were very efficient.  What was strange was the bank itself was no larger then a small hotel room, just off the side of the road -- more like a shack then a bank! As always, there was a guard in front with a 12-gauge.

The border process was also smooth and efficient. Cost was Q10 ($1.30) each for immigration, and Q45 ($6) per bike. I had to ride 20km to Puerto Barrios and pay the bike fee at the national bank. Fortunately, we knew this ahead of time. The more popular border crossing further south at Copan has a small bank there, so no additional travel is required. When I returned with my receipt, we were each given a one-month registration sticker, which went on our windscreens. We arrived in the town of Rio Dulce and got a room on the shores of the Rio Dulce, and spent the evening watching the various boats cruising up and down the river.

The good news is that we have entered our 48th country, the bad news is that time is rapidly draining away.

Thurs, Feb 27th: Not sure of our day’s destination, we stopped for lunch at the Finca Ixobel – A working farm/mid-range hotel. They also offer camping and private tree-house accommodation (a small hut up high in a tree) for $10. We stopped for lunch and to look around at the animals, then continued on to El Remate, on the east edge of Lago Peten Itza, just 35km south of Tikal. After getting our gear sorted, we went out onto the pier and watched a beautiful sunset.

Fri, Feb 28th: After a relaxing morning on the lake, we left El Remate after lunch and rode up to the Tikal National Park. If you get to the park entrance after 3pm, you purchase the following day’s ticket, but are allowed into the park/ruins the night before. We pitched our tent across from the visitor’s center, then trekked into the ruins. It took us 45 minutes to reach the Mundo Perdido (Lost World) pyramid, and another 5 minutes to climb the steep steps to the top. The view of the other ruins, rising above the jungle, was fantastic. Also, as sunset approached, we saw many types of parrots, toucans, woodpeckers, colorful ocellated turkeys and a family of spider monkeys playing in the nearby treetops!

Sat, Mar 1st: We were up at 6am, and together with Nina and Martina (2 Swiss girls we met the previous day, we hired a guide and entered the ruins at 7am. Our guide, Able, turned out not only to be very knowledgeable, but also very enthusiastic! He pointed out a variety of birds, plants (with their poisons and antidotes), small animals, snakes, and he even seduced a tarantula out of her nest! The ruins themselves were very impressive, as was the jungle that engulfed the area. The existence of Tikal dates back to 600 BC, and is one of the greatest of Mayan cities. It is particularly impressive for its massively steep pyramids, which stick up through the jungle canopy making for a striking view at sunset or sunrise. The pyramids entombed the kings and nobility, and much jade, pottery and other valuable artifacts were found buried with them. The site is so massive that much of the temples, palaces and living quarters have yet to be uncovered. You just know they’re there because of all the huge mounds of earth with trees growing at precarious angles from them. Archeologists believe Tikal prospered until around 800 AD and then went into decline, due to warfare with it’s neighboring cities, until it was completely abandoned in the 10th century.

We spent about 4 hours wandering around with our guide Able, before he left us to contemplate and imagine the life of the Maya at the Great Plaza. We watched the local and foreign tourists enter the area, as we chatted with the Swiss girls. We returned to the campground around 12:30pm, and I immediately fell into my hammock – the cold that I was hoping would diminish had blown out to full proportions. After resting for several hours, we packed the tent and rode 70km to the town of Flores, where we found a nice room with big ceiling fan and hot shower for $10. A quick trip to the farmacia, and I was able to get the proper medication.

The next afternoon, Sylvain and Silvia showed up on their big K1200LT – they were on the return leg of their tour from Quebec to Panama. They were a very nice couple, and we hope see them again at a rally or two in North America.


Sunset in El Remate

Atop a pyramid in Tikal, as sunset approaches

The (long) climb down, after sunset

The Acropolis at Tikal

A final photo after the 4-hour tour with Nina and Martina

Swinging from the jungle vines -- Oaoaoaoa...slam, ouch!

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