A Travellerspoint blog

From The Trees To The Cayes

sunny 30 °C

From Tikal we travelled east to Belize (note: we were upset to find that we couldn't eat armadillo in the national park, only in Flores the closest town, which we didn't go to. Definitely one to come back to later...smooth on the inside, crunchy on the outside!), got mildly conned by a taxi driver but then had such a lovely, warm welcome from the guys on the water taxi to take us offshore that we (almost) forgot about it. This was after the immigration guys told us to "have a monster one". By teatime we were on Caye pronounced “key”) Caulker, going slow.

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Caye Caulker is the most relaxed place we've been to so far, verging on horizontal. The entire caye has sandy roads, no cars (everyone gets around on golf carts) and lots of coconut trees. The locals are quite a mixed bunch of light-skinned dark people and dark-skinned light people, speaking a sort of English patois that we can generally extract less than half the meaning from (this despite the advantage we thought we had of attending Notting Hill every year without fail). The biggest problem with the island is that it's verging on overrun with very young American gap-year backpackers of the most insufferable kind. Arggh! We've mostly been ignoring them and spending loooong days on boats checking out the great diving they have here.

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Belize is amazingly rich (for such a small country) in coral habitats – it has the second largest barrier reef in the world stretching for most of the country just offshore; and on top of that three of the four atolls in the Caribbean – Turneffe Atoll, Lighthouse Atoll and Glover's Reef. We visited Turneffe on two days and Lighthouse once, having a great time diving with Belize Diving Services. They even gave us staff t-shirts... it doesn't get any better than that (thanks Brian).

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We weren't that blown away by the marine life near to Caye Caulker but as we got further away from the populated parts it got noticeably better - Turneffe South was a great dive. Then on the penultimate day we went for the marquee dive, the Great Blue Hole. A natural formation which is probably prettier from the air than in the water (go here http://nature.wallpaperme.com/4443-1/Blue+Hole_+Lighthouse+Reef_+Belize.jpg to see a picture which i didn't take) - it's a large underwater cave where the roof has collapsed inwards. The interesting thing about it is that there are stalactites and stalagmites present from around 30m under; but limestone can't form underwater so it indicates that the cave was dry at some point. You basically go straight down to 140ft (ish), right at the limits of recreational diving, swim around the stalactites, then start heading back up quite soon with some reef sharks eyeing you. Not bad but the visibility was a bit sucky and several of the group we were diving with were not competent diving to that depth which always makes it a bit stressful. However the last two dives of the day, on Lighthouse Atoll, were awesome & well worth the washing-machine conditions we had to endure on the boat ride to get there!

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Jon

Posted by pendleton 12:26 Archived in Belize Comments (0)

Important Note

We are NOT in Mexico

We are rerouting our travel plans so they don't include Mexico (probably going to Honduras instead)

We are on top of the situation and have registered ALL of our travel plans with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office so we get updates from them directly as they happen

>> bottom line, we are on top of it and we are safe!

J&A

Posted by pendleton 16:28 Archived in Mexico Tagged health_and_medicine Comments (0)

Tikal

sunny 30 °C

From Antigua we made our way to Tikal, which is one of the major Maya archaelogical sites, within a national park deep in the steaming jungles of northern Guatemala. The Maya weren't one unified country, instead each of the major cities was it's own state (kind of like the ancient Greeks), of which Tikal was one of the biggest. They had quite an obsession with astromony and the passing of various interweaving cycles; towards the end of some of the larger cycles they all got a bit freaked out and would spend their time waging war on the nearest enemy city in order to capture their leader(s) and torture them to death as a sacrifice. Nice guys.

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We got to the park in the late afternoon so we had a nice couple of hours wandering around before the rangers closed the park down. And it was amazing. Huge, towering edifices of stone with vertiginous steps (some of which have been closed to the public as people kept on falling to their deaths) suddenly appear out of these clearings which have been hacked into the thick jungle. In between the clearings you're walking down rough paths actually under the jungle canopy, with critters howling at you and strange rustlings in the litter to the side. You really get a feel for how terrifying it must have been for the first explorers, and how incredible to discover (or rediscover rather) the buildings – and I say buildings because while some of them are partially ruined, some of them are still in remarkably fine shape, and you can climb up the steps until you actually get above the canopy.

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All of this and, during the couple of hours we were there in the afternoon we only saw a couple of other people! We returned in the morning (unfortunately not managing to sneak in early past the shotugn-toting guards to see the sunset) to check out the last couple of places we didn't get to see the previous night but by 8'o'clock the tour bus groups were arriving so the magic was starting to fade just a touch...

An amazing experience though – up there with the Great Pyramids, and definitely a massive tick off the list!

Jon

(note - you'll notice there aren't any photos on this post yet. I'm putting this up from Roatan in Honduras [yes, it's two weeks late i know] and it seems that good internet connections are something that don't happen here. Will put photos up as soon as i can and relink them to this post. Adios!)

Posted by pendleton 10:14 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Antiguys and Gals

sunny 23 °C

So we have left La Antigua. We were very sad to leave... we've had a great time, made some good friends and even learned a little Spanish.

Our hosts, family Gonzalez

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Our son, Todd

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and our last, slightly messy night out

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J&A

Posted by pendleton 17:32 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

Goodness Gracious

sunny 23 °C

Yesterday we climbed up Volcan Pacaya.

We couldn't go to the top (boo) but we did get to see a really exciting lava flow (hurrah) and cook some marshmallows. Angi took an awesome video of me cooking (and eating) the same

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[i've been trying to upload this for a week but it keeps on failing 'cause it's too big - gareth get in touch if you feel like breaking up a 50mb video into more manageable clips, pretty please]

Last weekend we took a break from the Semana Santa craziness (of which we will post soon) and went to visit Lago Atitlan. Very beautiful, calm and tranquil, just what we needed.

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(more pics in the gallery)

J&A

Posted by pendleton 13:22 Archived in Guatemala Comments (2)

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