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Showing posts from February, 2007

Cayo District

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Wednesday, February 21
Thursday, February 22
Day 26/27
Belize Day 17/18

At breakfast, being served by the wisecracking Brit who ran the Midas Resort, I started talking to a group of 6 Americans who had a humungous SUV parked nearby. As I talked to them and looked at them there was something familiar about the whole scene. For some strange reason I couldn't put my finger on it. That's when it dawned on me and I asked them if they had been at Lubantuun. Then they asked me if I was one of the hitchhikers they had picked up. It turned out to be the same group that had graciously given Stu and me the ride into and out of Lubantuun more than a week earlier.

This morning I was determined to find a new top to replace the one I had left behind in Hopkins. I was tired of trying to function with one cycling jersey and one REI tropical travel top. Off I went into the wilds of downtown San Ignacio. I cautiously looked around to see if one of the two rastas who approached me last night were arou…

Deep Into Yipyip!! Country

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Sunday, February 18
Monday, February 19
Tuesday, February 20
Day 23/24/25
Guatemala Day 5/6/7
Belize Day 16

Cycled 38km/49km/30km
Tikal to El Remate
El Remate to Yaxja (Yipyip!! country)
Yaxha to Highway and Belize Border to San Ignacio



The old bones were still aching from walking around Tikal for 5 1/2 hours one day and cycling 49km to Uaxactun the next. But I jumped out of the sleeping bag at the crack of dawn, dawn is at 9:00am right? Off I went at 10:00am for the short 33km ride to El Remate. The two gringo researchers from yesterday quizzed me about the road to Uaxactun and were pleased to hear that the Chateros and I had hammered out a peace accord and no attacks were imminent. They wished me a good trip and assured me that it was downhill. I am now firmly convinced that one should never listen to a gringo for any kind of advice, especially car driving gringos with no concept of what's involved with cycling. The hills were as wicked as ever and the Guatemalan roads in this area have s…

Uaxactun

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Saturday, February 17
Day 22
Guatemala Day 4

Cycled 49km
Uaxactun and back

I knelt with my bum sticking out of my tent trying to decide wether cycling to Uaxactun for a day trip was the right thing to do. Suddenly I thumped my hand down on the tent floor and said "that's it, I'm going!". I packed up one pannier with emergency medical supplies, extra clothing in case I got stuck overnight and all the water I could carry. Off I valiantly marched to the ticket office to see whether there was a fee to go through Tikal in order to get to Uaxactun. The horrified ticket clerk told me that I really shouldn't do this trip alone by bike. There were SNAKES! he warned. Snakes on the road? I mused. Would they run after me and nip me in the heels I thought? During the day? Do they lay waiting in the bushes ready to pounce on silly turistas who venture out alone? There were DANGEROUS ANIMALS!! he uttered in sheer terror. Wait a minute I thought. What animal in Guatemala attacks huma…

Northbound In Guatemala

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Thursday, February 15
Friday, February 16
Day 20/21
Guatemala Day 2/3

At the crack of dawn I was up and raring to go. We headed to the lancha (launch) at 9:30am and started the 2 1/2 hour trip up the absolutely stunning Rio Dulce. All this cost a whopping US$12, including the bike. There are no roads going into this area but there are little hotels, shops, and little stores. They simply use the river as their highway. We stopped at a hotspring beside the river and soaked for a while. Then it was on to a little shop for an overpriced $0.50 coconut. Along the way the river wound along dense jungle with vines dropping into the water, limestone cliffs towering above us and birds all over the place. Some of the birds were even getting jiggy with each other.




Up The Rio Dulce, Guatemala.




Rio Dulce.




Locals In Dugout Canoes.




Birds Getting Jiggy With Each Other.


Rio Dulce, the town did not hold much interest for me. I was thinking of staying but decided to move on. Before we could even get out of the bo…

Out of Belize

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Wednesday, February 14
Day 19
Belize Day 16
Guatemala Day 1

No Cycling


The decision had been made last night and I was going to take the boat over to Guatemala. A competing boat service solicited me and I ended up going with "Memo's" since he was going directly to Livingston. Two Germans, a Honduran, and the lesbian couple from North Carolina joined me for the trip. We hefted the bike fully loaded into the "Dory" and pushed off after paying our US$3.75 exit tax. I was still not feeling well and a headache was starting to creep up on me. But I managed to take in the beautiful feeling of just being out at sea. Very far from shore there were local fishermen in dugout canoes, looking after their daily catch. A rather serene picture with the calm waters and the hazy mountains of Guatemala in the background.





Leaving Punta Gorda.





Fisherman in Dugout Canoe.


Livingston, Guatemala was in stark contrast to sleepy PG. The streets were bustling with tourists, locals, shops, cafes a…

Into Punta Gorda

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Monday, February 12
Tuesday, February 13
Day 17/18
Belize Day 14/15

Cycled 30km
Big Falls to Punta Gorda


For the first time I was actually awake and ready to go at an early hour. I had simply wheeled the bike into the room, adjusted my annoyingly grinding gears, reloaded the bike the night before and I was ready to go with about 15 minutes notice. I set off up the steepest hill yet at 6:15am hoping to make it into Punta Gorda before 9:00am. As it turns out, that hill was the only really bad one along the way. More friendly villagers cheered me on and giggled at the site of this overloaded tourist coming through.

Punta Gorda, locally known as PG, has a pleasing, relaxed and sleepy feel to it. It didn´t take long to find a guest house for US$11.50/night, complete with complimentary cucaracha and ant colony. Come to think of it, the ant colony was probably imported by me in my food pannier.

The hot and lazy day lent itself very well to just bumming around town. Within an hour or so I ran into St…

The Lonely Deep South

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Sunday, February 11
Day 16
Belize Day 13

Cycled 78km
Placencia to Big Falls


Today was one of my favourite days. Of course all the days so far have been good and special in their own way. I had hoped to do some snorkeling in Placencia in the morning before heading out. The skies once again opened up in the wee hours in the morning. But this time the sand absorbed most of it and I stayed bone dry. The rain pelting down on my tent lulled me back to sleep. When I awoke again at 6:15 the seas were rough and windy. No snorkeling today. It was also too late to pack up and catch the 6:45 water taxi across the bay. Not being one to let these little things bother me, I packed up and headed down to the Purple Space Monkey for coffee. Breakfast wasn't necessary since I had finished off my remaining bread and peanut butter at the campsite. At the Purple Space Monkey I once again ran into my fellow travellers, 2 of whom were also catching the 10:00am water taxi.





Hokey Pokey Water Taxi.


US$6.50 later m…

Placencia

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Saturday February 10
Day 15
Belize Day 12

No cycling




The "Sidewalk" In Placencia.


Ah! Placencia. Touristy, backpacker haven, alternative arts crowd, expats, everything rolled into one. I loved it in spite of my reservations about the influx of big money. Placencia has the longest uninterrupted sidewalk in the world. One mile long from what I've been told. It was really cool to just walk along amongst the little shops and restaurants. Once again I was able to just walk around without being hassled by anyone. I was quite taken by the village and scores of locals simply greeted me as I walked past.

I was in need of a nap so I returned to my house. The nap was not going to happen. Throughout this country there are many little shacks that seem to be falling apart. But from within you can hear some kickass stereo system thumping away. I guess as long as it doesn't rain on their stereos they're happy. I had already packed that morning so I hooked everything on the bike and wa…

Back to The Beach

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Friday February 9
Day 14
Belize Day 11

Cycled 52km ...but it felt like about 100.
Maya Centre to Placencia via land route


The rain was once again extremely refreshing and I was happy not to have any sun. The going was unbelievably good, too good in fact. I had wanted to take the paved road down to Independance and then take the Hokey Pokey Water Taxi across to Placencia. When I got to the road junction for Placencia I spoke to 3 tourists who hadn't a clue what the road in was like, a young man who probably never drove that road himself and who also had no clue. Then I talked to two older people who strongly suggested I not ride that road but take the boat further south instead. Every single person I spoke with had cautioned me against using that road. Based on all that information I decided to cycle the road anyway. There was sand, mud, bumps, drivers who wouldn't slow down and who sprayed me with mud, and of course the ever present heat. This was no doubt the hardest day of cyclin…

Into The Jungle

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Wednesday, February 7
Thursday, February 8
Day 12/13
Belize Day 9/10

Cycled 28km and 11km
Hopkins to Cockscomb
Cockscomb to Maya Centre


Once again, at the crack of 10:00am I mounted the old mule and set out into the unknown jungle regions of Belize ...well, unknown to me. Slow going on the dirt road. Sittee River was a really charming quiet little place. Kinda reminds me of some country lane back home, with a sauna added for good effect.




Road out of Hopkins to Sittee River.


I paused at Maya Centre to reflect on my desire to cycle the 11km up the bumpy dirt road to the Jaguar Reserve, while having a nice and healthy Coke at the Women's Craft Store. Not being one to whimp out I rode up in the sweltering heat and got there in an hour. Plenty of time to set up the tent underneath a palapa in a jungle clearing. I once again ran into the New York family as well as the woman with whom I had shared the cab from the airport into Belize City. Up I hiked into the jungle with the NY family, past a re…

The Beach Bum

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Monday February 5
Tuesday February 6
Day 10/11
Belize Day 7/8

Cycled 15km
Local cycling in Hopkins





Jungle Shower on the Beach.



The next two days I had no desire to cycle whatsoever. I camped out on the beach underneath a palm tree after checking for precarious coconuts. A jungle shower was available and the nights were breezy and peaceful. I cooked a meal on the beach and ended up seriously blackening all my cooking gear with that foul kerosene I was using. I was avoiding the chain smoking North Dakotans like the plague and I ran into a small family from NY, NY. They took me under their wings and I ended up catching rides in their rented SUV and joining them on a river tour and snorkeling trip. The daughter is a New York City park ranger, her mother is a musician and composer. The mother's husband is an organist. We drove to a small, unexcavated Mayan ruin and walked on top of it. I think we may have angered some Maya gods in doing so since my pictures ended up blurry and my mosquito bit…

From Mountain to Coast

Sunday, February 4
Day 9
Belize Day 6

Cycled 87km
Blue Hole to Hopkins


The skies had opened up overnight and I found myself stacking the "can't get wet" stuff on top the "don't care if it gets wet" stuff, while listening to the rain pounding down on my tent, which ceased to be water resistant a long time ago. In the morning I set out in the pouring rain. To my delight the rain was keeping me nice and cool and made the vicious hills on the Hummingbird Highway that much easier to climb. Nevertheless I couldn't see myself covering a lot of ground today with the hills and the rough road surface. Little did I know that I'd be covering 87km's today. To reduce my rolling resistance I decided to pump as much air as I could into my 100psi touring tires. I got them up to about 92psi when a loud sickening pop could be heard. The gasket of my pump was sticking out and I was now without a pump. I was smart in choosing high pressure tires for the trip. But not so …

The Heat, The Heat, The Dang Heat

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Morelet Crocodile at the Belize Zoo.






Monkey Bay Camping.



Thursday, Feb 1, 2007
Day 6
Belize Day 3

Cycled 54km
Belize City to Monkey Bay Wildlife Refuge


At the crack of 9:30am I set out on the old mountain mule to cycle off towards the western horizon. After riding in circles a few times and asking a few friendly locals, I finally found the Western Highway on my way to the Belmopan area.

The going was good and the road was mostly smooth and flat. The bus drivers here are just as they are in most of the developing world, stark raving mad. If there is no oncoming traffic they gave me a wide berth. If traffic was oncoming the long drawn out honking, in conjuction with the bus not slowing down one iota, was my signal to move into the gravel lest I wished to be crushed. Truckers, as everywhere else I've been, were awesomely courteous. The car drivers here are maniacs too but they're much more respectful of cyclists than back home. A toot on a horn simply serves as a polite notice to let you…