Diary/Photo Journal

Week of November 30, 2003

We finally experienced our first stop by the Policia.  Unfortunately, they could have picked on a variety of things to ticket us for but to their chagrin, they accused us of speeding in Cindy.  Now, Cindy can hold her own on an open highway, but after bridging a large topes (speed bump), Cindy is not about to sprint to over 100 kph (about 62 mph) within a hundred feet.  So, Gerson out-talked, towered above and laughed with/at the policia and they graciously realized they were outmatched, outwitted and out of excuses and let us go.  We quite enjoyed the dumbfounded looks on their faces.  No lunch money from us!

On our way out of Mexico, we visited yet another ruin in Tulum.  Tulum was built on the cliffs overlooking the Caribbean Sea and is a visual favorite of tourists.  Around 1300 A.D., Tulum rose to prominence as a seaport, controlling marine commerce along the coast and remarkably enough, it remained inhabited well after the arrival of the Spanish.  The buildings represent more of a fortress than the typical temples and city we have seen before and the god that is most represented is referred to as the "diving god".


Various structures
at Tulum.  Second
picture is of
El Castillo (the Castle)
Passageways were
small to reduce the
chance of many people
attacking in any one
|area
Carving on corners of
the structures

 

Why Tulum is a
visual favorite
Tulum inhabitant
This one is about
3' long from nose
to tail tip


We stopped outside of Chetumal for the night with the intention of passing into Belize first thing the next morning.  We found a wonderful little place called Laguna Milagros and here is what we found.
 

Sunset over Laguna Milagros
and
Gerson enjoying a sunset dip and having this large lake all to himself


We breezed through the border at Belize even though it took four documents to fill out, fumigation of the exterior of Cindy, an inspection of Cindy, disposal of our limes, walking back and forth between departments, etc.  Because of the on-and-off rain and because my right ear was still a little sore from diving in Cancun, we decided to zip through Belize and set our sights on Guatemala.  We did not take any pictures of Belize because outside of its Cayes (Belize has no admirable beaches or towns, only the cayes or reefs to dive), there is nothing worth mentioning.  This country is woefully poor and actually rather ugly. 

We stayed in a camping facility called Inglewood Camping Grounds and found that it was owned by a man that also lives in, you will never guess, Inglewood, California.  He and Gerson became fast friends as Greg is also a Lakers fan.  What a coincidence, eh?

Now for the Guatemala border.  Again, another fumigation and again some papers to complete.  However, this time we had to pay an "exit fee" to Belize.  If they don't get you coming, they get you going!  We cleared this border in minimal time (as we aim to hit all the borders first thing in the morning) and off to yet another ruin, Tikal.

Tikal is probably the most impressive ruin we have seen thus far.  Not only for the sheer size of the city itself, but for the layout within the jungle and the "lived-in" feeling you cannot help but feel as you walk between the stone giants.  Everywhere we went, we were greeted by monkeys, pizotes (coatis), birds, butterflies, etc. 

Tikal started construction around 700 B.C. and came to prominence in 250 A.D. as an important religious, cultural and commercial city.  This magnificent city sprawled across 20 square miles and had a population of approximately 100,000.  Like previous Mayan cities we have visited, the greatness of Tikal waned around 900 A.D. for the same mysterious reasons of the general collapse of the Mayan civilization. 
 

  Gran Plaza views
Templos I and II
Gerson sitting atop
another temple
looking at Templo I
 

Gran Plaza buildings
viewed from the
various temples

a structure still to
be unearthed - there
were many of these

Templos I & II are so unbelievably steep, that two visitors have plummeted to their deaths and now they are closed to public scaling. 

Various
carvings
on buildings
and on
sacrificial
altars
View of  Templo III
from ground and from
Templo IV
There are four buildings
behind us, just very hard
to see in picture
 

 

Just an example
of the cool
jungle paths
We looked for
Tarzan but to
no avail - love
the hanging vines


The inhabitants
Howler monkeys
adorable Pizotes
(Coatis)
Beautiful butterflies
and a colorful
peacock

 


Just some boring buildings around Tikal
What made Tikal so much more fascinating for us (besides the animal
and jungle atmosphere), was that the buildings were only partially
excavated, leaving the visitor to see what the city truly looked like
when rediscovered.  The jungle giveth and the jungle taketh away.


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