I always wanted to go to Belize and from Cozumel it was only a few hours with the bus. Who would not want to see La Isla Bonita and San Pedro, the place Madonna sang about in the 80’s. But this place is for ‘Rich and Beautiful’ and way above our budget and so we stayed for a few days on an island called Caye Caulker. It looks like paradise with its white sands, colourful houses and a world famous reef to dive. Belize has a Caribbean flair with its reggae music, the rasta hair style, local rum to every meal and everything goes slow.
Next destination was Guatemala. The country has not the best reputation when it comes to safety but a visit was highly recommended by many travellers we met. A direct bus from Belize city brings you cross the border to Tikal, the most famous Mayan ruins in Guatemala and one that we decided to see. Our tour started at 3am with a 45min hike through the jungle with our head lamps on and every few minutes our guide checked if none of us was eaten by a jaguar. It felt quite adventurous when we were welcomed by an animal sound I only knew from Jurassic Park. The Howler monkey is considered as the loudest land animal and according to the Guinness Book of World Records their vocalisations can be heard up to 4.8km. It was fantastic to walk in the dark on an unknown trail listening to some T Rex like animal sounds and allegedly their noise was used to imitate the dinosaur in the film.
The Mayas were a Mesoamerican civilisation noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture and mathematical and astronomical systems. During the Classic Period between AD 250 to 900 Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. It was eventually abandoned completely, consumed by the jungle, and pretty much fell off the map until the mid 1800’s.
We have seen Inca capitals, and considering the Mayan pyramid temples are alot older then it is quite amazing how well preserved they are. I am sure they will be around for hundreds more years and it is also quite amazing how many more of these temples are still being explored.
Guatemala is still a developing nation with a turbulent and bloody history and yet, despite high levels of poverty and unemployment and those lucky to be working their salary is around 200 USD a month. Most Guatemalans are extraordinarily courteous and helpful to travellers. There are some basic rules to travel safe in Guatemala such as not flashing your camera or laptop around or travelling on local Chicken busses by night. We made our way down to Antigua, which was for more than 200 years the capital of Guatemala. An earthquake in 1773 destroyed most of the city and the capital was moved to another city. Today Antigua is popular among tourists for its mild climate and its colonial charm.
Tomorrow we head to Honduras for a week of diving and beach relaxing, we have to face a 15 hour bus ride which starts at 6 am however this a normal travel day for us.