Progresso-Orange Walk-Belmopan-San Ignacio-El Zapote-Santa Helena/Flores-Bethel border
05.04.2012 - 13.04.2012 50 °C
Greetings from Guatemala. We got as far as here in one piece but first of all I'd like to go back and tell you one last thing about Mexico.
Ivonne told me that Yucatan geographically belongs to central America. She also told me that day we stayed in theirs, a massive windstorm passed through Merida region where her parents live, which left them with no electricity and broken trees all over the place. I guess we made a good decision to stay put extra day. We visited Pedro's mother Alfonsa (Mayan descendant) who showed us how original hammocks are done. It takes about one month to make a matrimonial (double bed) one. She really looked after us like her own kids. She embraced us with a big smile and kisses. We got a glass of "atole de mays" each, which is a thick corn-drink usually drunk by hard working men in the jungle. Very invigorating indeed. Alfonsa and her family have completely different life style then us. But their hospitality is second to none. We left with blessings and wishes for safe journey. We stumbled upon local swimming pool to kick back and relax for a while (as the only white people around). Great majority of Mexicans are off the week before Easter so the place was packed. In F.Carrillo Puerto and one more place in Mexico, people reject summertime. Some institutions accept it, some don't so we always have to ask: what's the time? the real time or the Maya (rebels') time. Anna made a fabulous gulash for dinner. Our hosts liked it too. Now we're packed with water supplies and continue to Laguna Bacalar. It's a beautiful blue lake in the shape of our local Domasa lake - long and narrow. It seems as though there are no fish in it. White sand on the bottom, warm water... excellent camp site for two nights. First in Buena Vista, then in Bacalar.
Border crossing to Belize was smooth. $294 exit fee. We were promised of no further exit fees on US-Mexican border. That day i managed to swim in three lakes: Bacalar in the morning, Milagros at noon and finally Laguna Progresso in the evening in Belize. Meanwhile i took a dunk in Chetumal Bay on the way to town of Corozal. Hot, hot, hot and sweaty. I even think my allergy gave in. The skin got through the first sun phase alright. Everything runs smoothly, except that horrible road to Corozal. I chose the track which is not on our map. It's a country road leading to a car ferry. On the other side of the river we continued for another 15km through the jungle and swamps to some village. Beer was the only reward because the water in the lagoon where we camped was too warm to refresh our perspiring bodies. The road to the Orange Walk was very same like the day before. The pace is slow and bone shaking. It's 10 o'clock and the thermometer shows 50 in the sun. The map i got was deceiving. This 4 lane road on paper is a joke. There are no lanes and furthermore there's no tarmac. The roads are generally bad even though there are signs stating EU funding. Local chap Beto whom we spoke to in Orange Walk said the EU money end up in pockets of politicians not on the roads. There are chinese shops and restaurants everywhere you look. Only then we realised it was Good Friday and everything was closed. I managed to get to internet but still no luck finding Couchsurf in Belize City. What to do next? Beto - heaven-sent (originally from Argentina, living in USA, on business in Belize, former successful footballer) is showing me a cheap hotel just across the street from his own house. We're having a coke and end up camping in his back garden. He left for couple of hours, we're hosing down our bikes, dirty bags, doing some washing up, servicing the wheels. Then we're having shower ourselves, downing yet another coke and heading out to town. The Easter parade is in full swing, we're having our first draught beer and then we meet Beto on his motorbike. He takes us for a dinner to his mates. It's early morning, we're heading to the capital city. The road is not the best quality but at least it's cloudy. The vegetation has changed. Thin pine-tree forest on one side, swamp on the other (Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary). Migratory birds from north America come here for food and sun. We're resting in Sandy Hill village in the hut by the road. I was just about to start cooking and suddenly a man walks in with food in his hands. His name is Ashton and he saw us cycling by his house few yards away. He brought us some tamales (traditional food made from corn dough and filling, steam cooked in banana leaf). And there comes next door lady who's selling water in her store which is closed now. She's giving us a gallon but won't take the money. Next stop is Hattieville village about 25km west of Belize City which we bypassed. A local guy told us to ask for sleep over at the police station. We were lucky and the cops let us spent the night in station's back yard and we even could use their shower. Happy days. We were very grateful for the protection coz locals were calling us "whites". It's busy office, i tell you. The phone didn't stop ringing. Neverending shouting, arguments and even gun shots from the street kept us on our toes through the night.
Two days on and we are in San Ignacio crossing the border to Guatemala for about €4 fee. We're riding on with no cash fighting off the local hustlers. It's Easter Monday, the closest bank is 90km away. We even had to step down and push the bikes into the steep hills, asking locals for some water. In the evening (still no cash) we're asking this lovely lady to stay over night in her garden and she's offering us some sort of garage. Very nice people these Guatemala Indians. After spending a night in El Zapote we can't wait to make it to our couchsurf in Santa Elena/Flores by the Peten Lake. We're staying at Memo's place. He and his family are members of Buenos Cosas - a voluntary organization supporting education of local people. Memo is originally from California, had settled down here years ago and started a family. We're staying in the house for the volunteers which is super cool. We got mosquito nets, fan and there's whole bunch of good people around. Katie from England and Ryan from USA are planing to cross the border to Mexico and hitchhike to Mexico City for the Radiohead concert. We wish them good luck and lots of fun. We're gonna stay here for two more nights, get some rest and then head for the border to Chiapas across the river in Bethel.
That's all from Guatemala.
Watch this space for more...