Saturday, November 21, 2009

Day 3 & 4: Tikal - Ancient Maya City

I took a shuttle from Belize across the border to Guatemala to visit the Maya Ruins of Tikal. Possibly, my favorite part of this trip.

I walked through a rainforest and then voila, I entered a clearing with ancient ruins surrounded by the remains of temples that tower over 70 metres (230 ft) high.

There were 2 memorable parts of this visit:

1) Sunset in Tikal

I went up the tallest (70 metres) temple, Temple IV, with another traveller I met in Belize. At the top of the temple steps, you have a view of the endless rainforest below. It was nearing sunset and the park was closing, but 20 Quetzals to the guard bought us more time and he let us stay to watch the sunset. It was pitch black as we descended the temple and luckily the guard escorted us out of the park or else we would have likely got lost in the forest and would have had to sleep on an ancient sacrificial stone slab - an adventurous idea, but it was super cold out and my bed sounded less eerie.

2) Sunrise in Tikal

A few hours later, we woke up at 3:45 am and went with a guide, who paid off the guards at the park entrance to let us into the park early.

We returned to Temple IV where we sat above the expansive forest floor and underneath a clear sky with shooting stars. It was so serene and unforgettable.

Then the light started to creep in and all of a sudden a spooky howling sound began to permeate through the forest. It was the Howler monkeys waking up the rainforest animal kingdom. They literally `howled` for 20 to 30 minutes until the sun rose like an orange egg through the clouds.

Good Morning sun!
Good Bye moon!
Hello ancient maya temples poking through the trees!

NEXT STOP: Antigua and a hike of an active volcano

Belize - Cave Hike and the Townies

This will be a boring post for some of you. I went on a cave hike - completed it with no broken bones or dislocated joints. My bag arrived - no more white velor shorts.

The cave itself was pretty cool. I have explored a cave in Batad, Philippines but this cave was bigger and with Belize regulations - or the lack there of - ancient ruins have not been removed and are scattered throughout the cave. The Mayans performed rituals in this cave and there are remnants of ceramic pottery and even skulls and bones.

You had to swim into the cave and at some points the water was chest-deep. My outfit worked out well and I blended right in because a plastic surgeon from Vegas was in my group and she actually chose to wear white daisy dukes and a white tank top. Oh, Americans....

In the evening, tourists and locals convened in the town bar. Everyone spoke perfect English - so much for practicing my Spanish. To name a few of the local characters -

- Local Prostitute- she manned the jukebox and i quickly learned not to invade her territory and let her pick the music.

- 20yr old Bartender - She sat on the other side of the bar more than she served drinks.

- Sleazy Tour Operator Owner - He, like most people in town, bad-mouthed other local business owners. They all seemed to talk shit about each other behind everyone´s backs but then be chummy pals.

- Town Drunk - He kept coming over and repeating the same incoherent slurs, but my favorite was that he´s "still waiting for Bob Marley to come to Belize."

- Dart Champion - My favorite town local. He was the #1 Belize national champion dart thrower. Currently, he´s dropped to #20 because he has gotten too in his head and he has tennis elbow from 9 hours of daily practice, so he´s off his game.

Now that´s what I call a night out!

Next Stop- Tikal, Guatemala

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Kiss Me I'm in Belize!

Monday - 11/16

After a 4am pick-up from SuperShuttle, a myriad of schedule change issues upon arriving to Newark airport (I'll spare you the details), and 12 hours of traveling including layovers, I arrive to Belize...without my bag.

I was set to do an early morning cave hike, so the tour company suggested i buy shorts and a shirt in town. Along the quarter mile strip, I had an option of 6 tienda type shops - all selling similar items - short jean skirts adorned with crystals, hoochie pastel and plaid 'fashion' shorts, lycra tops, etc. I should also point out that every pair of shorts they offered for me to try looked like they would fit only one of my ass cheeks.

I found a somewhat reasonable looking pair of spandex pants until I discovered a dead cockroach smashed inside the pant leg - lovely. SO, I settled on a hot pink tank top with 3 figures doing what resembled yoga poses and a pair of white velor shorts embossed with a stunning gold design that says: "Kiss Me."

If my bag does not arrive tomorrow, I'm curious how I will blend in with the locals and avoid unwanted attention while sporting my new Belizian fashion...