Luis, the owner of Belize Nature Travel, picked us up, right at 7:30 to take us to the border. Along the way we saw the raging river about eight feet higher than usual. Just ten or minutes away is immigration. Because so many tourists were choosing to leave Belize due to site closures the line was a bit long, though not as long as the day before. We gathered the provided snacks and bottle of water and got in line. While we waited our turn to pay the $20 US fee each, we chatted with a man from Singapore who is traveling solo through the Cental American countries. He has seen quite a bit of the world and quit his job as a salesman to have the time to explore. We finally paid and then had to wait a bit at the next counter to be stamped out of Belize.
At that point we were transferred to Billy who drove us across No Man’s Land to Guatemalan immigration. The first thing I noticed about him was his shirt had a Survivor logo. Well, turns out he was in charge of transportation logistics for the Guatemala season and then went to Panama to do the same for the next show! Nice guy! He didn’t mind being peppered with questions throughout the day.
Because his immigration knew him and trusted him he was able to take our passports to be processed while we chilled in the van. Then it was an hour and forty-five minutes to get to Tikal. At times we went through villages where dogs wander in the road. The intriguing part was they didn’t show any interest in chasing vehicles or barking at them. How different from those in the states! More flooding was evidenced. The photo on the left was just outside San Ignacio and the one on the right in Guatemala. The water from the latter was heading to Belize so it would be some time before caves in San Ignacio would be open.
Once we reached the park we glimpsed a grey fox in the road which took off into the woods. The only other wildlife we spied was on the signs warning drivers. Twice there were huge ones with snakes! Yuck! Never saw that before!
After giving our lunch order and using the bathrooms we began the walk along the road to the ruins at 10:30. Up ahead we saw some people looking at a family of pizotes with kids tussling and having a great time. We have the ring-tailed in Costa Rica and these seemed a bit smaller and plainer.
Thirty-three years ago I was in Tikal for a couple of days with friends and colleges Mary and Alma. I remembered bits and pieces of the ruins but not the general layout. I do remember going up the steep narrow pyramid steps was a bit tricky and descending was scary, for sure! Billy explained the history and and then let us walk up the first pyramid. As there was a spider monkey up in a nearby tree I did ascend pretty quickly this time, though coming back down I did carefully and sloooooowly! Bill opted to wait for the tallest one. On the stella Billy interpreted the hieroglyphics. My favorite name was Cocobean! He was in charge for about sixty years and did much to propetuate the community.
The main square didn’t look familiar at all, just some of the buildings. Rain began threatening as we investigated the site on our own. One structure now has a serious of wooden steps up the back which twist and turn to allow access almost to the top. We did go up there for the view as raindrops fell. On the way back down a young couple pointed out some keel-billed toucans in a distant tree, which was fun although we have seen many. Rain came down even harder as we checked out the building called the Windows and spent a few minutes in the protection of a room. I remember doing the same thing thirty-three years ago!
We rejoined Billy, who seems to have a great comrade of fellow guides! The main goal at this point was taking us to the highest temple, which also has a series of wooden steps to get to the top. What an amazing view! It was where George Lucas filmed a scene for the original Star Wars – Yavin. Just as we got to the top step of the temple itself and took a photo or two, a lightning bolt showed itself near the temples where we had just been. A second one told us it was time to descend! Of course, that was all there were!
By the time we got back to ground the sun came out, but not for long. For the next hour the rain came down. I used my dirty Salem Sox umbrella and Bill his rain jacket to keep our packs and bodies dry. Our water shoes came in handy as there was no way our feet were going to stay dry. As we walked back towards the entrance howler monkeys were making a racket, probably howling with laughter we were getting wet. It would have fun to see them but they were too far away.
Lunch was ready for us when we arrived at 2:00. So glad we had the snacks along to tied us over in the morning! The grilled chicken with a mushroom bacon sauce, rice, and cooked carrots and chayote were welcome! Bill tried the local brew, Gallo, which was an okay beer. Then it was back in the van to ride back to immigration. Rain came and went but the last hour was dry and sunny. This time immigration was speedy as there was no line. Luis met us on the other side and took us back to the hotel as he talked politics between Belize and Guatemala. It seems pretty messy. Belize is independent but not all Guatemalans agree with that!
Dinner was back at the same restaurant as nothing else appealing was open. This time we tried the lamb burgers with feta cheese and French fries. Good, but a lot of food. The local skinny mama cat came begging but after two bits of lamb decided she didn’t really like it. The waitress assured us she has her own supplies under the building where she keeps her four kittens.