Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Segment 22: Border Belize/Guatemala to Flores, Guatemala (August 10-24, 2010)

Our first night in Guatemala, we camped in a field behind this church.  The neighbors invited us over in the evening, and we drank Argentinian maté and told stories for awhile.  A warm welcome to Guatemala...

a roadside swim on the way to Lake Petén

view from Sak Luk Hostel in El Remate of Lake Petén

in El Remate

seen wandering the streets in El Remate, a Guatemalan food staple

On the road to Tikal, one of the largest and most famous of all Mayan archaeological sites.  Unfortunately, we didn't see any of these jaguars.

View of Jaguar Temple

Temples rising above the jungle.  View from Temple 4 in late afternoon.

...three pirates on top of Temple 4...

a strange cloud formed as we descended from Temple 4... the temple guards said it was a powerful sign from above...

amazing forest around Tikal

ascending Temple 5

Temple 5 at dusk

ceiba tree

early morning at Tikal, temples vertical in the air



howler monkey

...spider monkeys...

This is Jeff after a night camping at Tikal.  His mosquito net kept out the mosquitoes, but the no-see-ums entered and chewed up his face all night.  He switched out his mosquito net shortly thereafter...

...back at El Remate...

Cass Gilbert, whom we haven´t seen since April in Oaxaca, makes a surprise appearance in El Remate and we celebrate.  He has been two months in Guatemala already at this point, volunteering at a community bike program called Mayapedal.

we decide to trek to El Mirador, a legendary Mayan site in northern Guatemala, rumored to be 65 km of pure jungle trekking (actually only 45 or so in the end)...
the four of us in Carmelita at the start of the trek

it wasn´t long before we were mired in thick oozing mud, thanks to the mule trains who pack tourists out to El Mirador.  This was one of the worst trails we have ever seen, all animal damage.  Mike and Jason turned around a short ways in, due to poor footwear and mosquito ravages, leaving Cass and Jeff to fend for themselves...

our first night´s campsite, after we took a wrong turn and walked 2.5 hours in the wrong direction!

righting ourselves the following morning

view from a pyramid at El Tintal, nearly halfway to El Mirador

strangler fig

..rainwater collection at El Tintal guard camp...

sunset from El Tintal´s high pyramid

...approaching El Mirador... some trail was really nice walking...

but other sections of trail were complete bogs, filled with swarms of bloodthirsty mosquitoes

...resting at La Muerta, the entrance ruins to El Mirador...

howler monkey at El Mirador

...sunset from the top of Jaguar Temple...

keel-billed toucans spotted from the top of Temple Danta just after sunrise the following morning.  Toucans like the high places, too.

...early morning views over the jungle from Temple Danta...
a sea of green

spider monkey

stick insect on Cass

...howler monkeys...

Jeff on top of Temple Danta

this toucan came pretty close

stela at El Mirador.  El Mirador is fascinating because it is an archaeological work in progress, the pyramids still draped in jungle, new discoveries happening every field season, very little tourist infrastructure, thankfully.

on top of Lion Temple we saw at least 5 types of butterflies in a wildflower explosion

partially-excavated mask carving

another amazing fig

Romero, the park guard at El Mirador

after a cool rain, during the return to El Tintal

sunrise from El Tintal pyramid

this bird sang sweet notes for a long time from the top of the pyramid

jungle, mist, and luminous skies

Juan Carlos, one of the guards at El Tintal, makes some of the best tortillas we have ever had.  These were goodbye tortillas, as he was helping prepare us for the 4-5 hour hike out through the mosquito bogs, which effectively must be nonstop if you dont want thousands of bites.

Juan Carlos and Gilberto, the guards at El Tintal, do 30-day shifts!

this is the mud we trekked through for the better part of 45 km

and this is the aftermath

Jeff in Carmelita

local biker in Carmelita

...the tailor shop in Santa Elena where Jeff requested a new mosquito net to be sewn.  Note the pouring rain, a common theme at this time in Guatemala...

a major street food discovery in northern Guatemala: tostadas smothered in shredded beets, topped with onions, and lathered with hot sauce.  YUMMMM...

Jason and Mike play cribbage on the rooftop of Hostel Doña Goya in Flores, where we rested and attended to our bikes for several days.  In the background can be seen Jeff´s and Jason´s bikes, drying after fresh coats of paint to repair rust spots.

...the views from the hostel rooftop...

Jeff cleans, regreases, and reassembles the freewheel and ratchets on his back hub

sunset our last night in Flores

surreal: Burger King has (not surprisingly) co-opted Mayan themes for its Flores franchise.  Curiously enough, rich local Guatemalans flock to this place.  If they only knew how trite it all was...


Anonymous said...

Hello guys, this is Sophie from Holland, we met in Flores. I returned home. How are you guys doing? Any problems due to the heavy rainfall? Hope not. It's great to see your pictures!!!! If you get the chance meet up with Femke in Chichicastenango, it's a special place. Take care! Sophie

Chris said...

good times Jason and Jeff, nice meeting you Antigua. Hope some of the route info serves you well down the road. Checking out your site is making me revisit bicycle trip plans, we'll see.