Ons is in, en amper al weer uit, Belize. Die land is pragtig, maar klein. Die uitsondering is egter Belize City, wat 'n riller is, maar ons het dit oorleef. Ons kamp by 'n nice kampterein net buite Cayo, op die grens van Guatemala. Is nog nie seker hoe lank ons gaan bly nie, maar ons volgende stop is Tikal.
Email sent 27 January 2009 ......Belize
We got to the Belize border and were greeted by very friendly immigration and customs officials all speaking English with the Jamaican accent. In no time we were on our way heading into the tropical country side. My first impression of the country was a bit tainted as there was quite a bit of litter along the roads – even more than Mexico! And the small villages that we drove past were in dire state for repair. When we got to Orange Walk, we stopped to buy some fruit to eat as a late breakfast. While sitting on the side of the road, eating sliced banana out of a half a papaya, we decided that the country was much smaller than we anticipated and it was still early enough in the day to head further down the road.
Crooked Tree is about 6km off the main highway and the road leads through a marshy area. The area is protected and is known as the Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary because of all the water birds that come there to nest – a real birders paradise! After paying our entry fee at the visitor’s centre we headed to Rhaburn’s Rooms, a family run guest house. Owen and Maggie Rhaburn, both well-on in their years, have opened up the top floor of their family home as a guest house. It has four lovely rooms, a shared bathroom – with hot shower/bath, and a small sitting room and a balcony. It is in a huge garden with lots of lawn and big trees. We unloaded all our goodies in the room and then armed with the camera and binoculars we headed out into the sandy streets. Wow, what an awesome place to be visiting, we weren’t very far down the road when we started to see beautiful little birds with the brightest of colours; black with yellow or orange, black with dark red and dark pink, little humming birds and many more bigger birds.... groove-billed ani, tropical kingbird, lesser yellow-headed vulture, black-cowled oriole, black-headed trogan. The one area had a huge natural pond where we watched the snowy and great egrets, magnificent frigatebirds, grey necked wood-rail, black necked stilt, agami heron, blue heron, amazon kingfisher and other water birds catch fish and bugs. We heard so many different bird calls that it was hard to keep up with some of them as they flittered and fluttered in and out of the tree. There were also cows, chickens and horses roaming around – they all seemed to know which way was home at sunset. People riding bicycles or just walking down the streets, quaint wooden houses on stilts with huge open yards as most of the properties were without any fencing. We discovered that it was a very peaceful Jesus loving community. All too soon it was time to leave and Maggie asked us to pray for her as she is suffering terribly with rheumatoid arthritis. So please remember her in your prayers, she is a real frail little old lady with a heart for Jesus.
We have been
to Tikal, and we are in Flores
for tonight. Tikal was amazing, so is Flores. We
have met three other travellers,
and will spend the night with them.
Heading for Honduras tomorrow.
Laas nag heel nag
gereen dat dit klap hier in La Ceiba. Gelukig was ons nie in ons
tent nie, maar in 'n Hostal, anders was ons sopnat. Laas nag het
ons kerk musiek gehoor van oorkant die pad, en gaan kyk. Ons het
die kerkdiens bygewoon, natuurlik nie die preek verstaan nie,
maar die wysies van die musiek erken en saam gesing. Die
landskap hier is pragtig. Jungle. Ek het nuwe fotos op Facebook
en 'n video op Youtube (Mexico 1).
Ons is nog steeds in La Ceiba (Honduras) Dis lekker hier en ons geniet dit baie. Ons het so bietjie toeriste dinge gedoen, was gister op 'n 'Canopy tour' en vandag na die pragtige eilande toe. Kyk nuwe fotos op vleisboek! Ons bly nog 'n aand hier, en gaan dan net so 160km oos met die kus langs na die volgende dorp. As dit nice daar is, sal ons ook so paar dae daar bly en op die strand rond hang.
Email sent 5 February 2009..............Guatemala to La Ceiba, Honduras
We had an easy border crossing from Belize into Guatemala, once again the people were helpful and friendly, not at all what we were expecting from what we had read by other travellers. The first 45km’s from the border town of Melchor de Mencos was a bumpy and dusty gravel road, then it turned into the worst potholed tar road we have been on since Kenya. Thankfully that was the only really bad road for the rest of our travels in Guatemala. Once again we were blessed with the most beautify scenery from the shores of Lago de Peten Itza to the Tikal ruins in the Tikal National Park. The park is 576 sq km’s and contains thousands of separate ruined structures. The area which has been mapped by archaeologists (over 3000 structures) with the Grand Plaza where we were visiting is only 16 sq km’s. The ruins and camp site was fantastic as it is 17km’s inside the national park which meant that the birds and animals were protected. We got really excited when we saw so many new species of birds and animals roaming free. The most amazing and colourful bird we have seen is the Keel Billed Toucan, its bill/beak is almost the size of its body, yet it picks the small nuts from the palm trees with the tip of the bill and then with a quick little upward flick of the head it throws the nut into its throat! There were also Collard Aracari, Red Lored Parrot, Great Kiskadee, Lineated Woodpecker, Great Curassow, Oropendula and the Oscillated Turkey. We also saw the Howler Monkeys, Spyder Monkeys, Pizote (Koatymundi) and a Grey Fox. Unbelievable, Praise the Lord!
We were up and about at the crack of dawn and by 6am we were strolling the jungle paths to the Grand Plaza. Wow, what a lovely sight so early in the morning. We climbed the wooden stairs (built alongside the structure by archaeologists to stop more damage to these ruins) to the top of Temple II and sat and admired the beautiful view of Temple I – built by King Moon Double Comb, the Central and the North Acropolis. We found Temple III still mostly covered by the thick jungle except for the top of the tower (55m high) which is higher than the trees growing on its sides. At Temple IV (64m) we once again went up the series of steep wooden stairs and ladders which zigzagged to the top of the structure. From this view point we were higher than the rest of the site and could see the tops of Temple I, II, III and V sticking out through the trees in the distance. Wow, amazing! We had the binoculars with us, and from our vantage point we saw Howler Monkeys curled up in the tops of the trees waiting for the warmth of the sun-beam and two Keel Billed Toucans calling to each other. Then we were off again to El Mundo Perdido (The Lost World) a complex of 38 structures surrounding a huge pyramid. We must be suckers for punishment because Temple V (58m) also had the wooden ladder up the side but this one went straight up! It is by far the tallest ladder that we have ever climbed – who needs the gym? The Lord is providing his own work-out program for us! Hallelujah!! We were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful and clean the northern part of Guatemala is.
On the road toward Poptun we met three other
overland travellers, Paddy on a forever braking down
Aprilia from Ireland, Jason on an R100GS from San
Francisco, and Mat on a F650 Dakar from Alaska. We
decided to join them for the evening in Flores, this
is a little island in the lake – Lago de Peten Itza
and it is connected to the lakeshore town of Santa
Elena. The first hotel we stopped at was closing
down and the lady said that she had no rooms but the
bike could be parked in her now empty
reception/shop, when she realized that we would be
four bikes and five people she quickly sent a team
upstairs to prepare rooms for us! What a blessing,
not only did we have very secure parking for the
bikes but we also all got good rooms at a very good
price, thank you Jesus. We had a nice evening
together chatting about travels.... well, what
else? We left early the next morning as we were
heading for Honduras. The border crossing was
interesting as we were two-up on the motorbike and
the customs officer wanted to send us to Puerto
Cortes to get the vehicle road permit, but that
meant that there was no space for the ‘guide’ who is
supposed to travel with you!! After a phone call to
the head office they filled in a vehicle permit by
hand and we were on our way. Once again we were
pleasantly surprised to see modern shops all with
the American flavour – so far we have seen almost
everything except Mac Donald’s and Wal-Mart! We
have also seen some seriously fancy houses along the
Caribbean Coast! Our first stop was Rolli’s Place
in the little sleepy coastal town of Omoa. Then we
travelled through Tela to La Ceiba, where we
currently are. Most of the little towns and islands
along this part of the Caribbean coast have Garifuna
– they are descendents from West African slaves and
Carib Indians. In many ways we feel at ‘home’ here
with these people, who seem to have a very similar
culture to the Africans on the East Coast of Africa,
just as friendly and happy-go-lucky.
The area is very tropical and thick jungle covers
the slopes of the mountains which run along the
coast. There have been some serious rain showers
the last few days but thankfully it is not cold and
I am even more thankful that we are not in the tent
at the moment. When the weather cleared we decided
to spoil ourselves and do a jungle canopy tour –
this was loads of fun and a good adrenalin rush.
The view from some of the cable runs was stunning,
we could see over the tops of the trees all the way
down to the coast line and the Cayos Cochinos
(islands) in the clear Caribbean Sea, wow,
beautiful! We also saw the most amazing big cobalt
blue butterfly, it had wing span of about 10cm.
Unfortunately is only flittered around and did not
settle on anything but that was beautiful enough.
We also went on a tour to the Cayos Cochinos which
is a group of 13 islands about 16km’s off shore.
These privately owned jewels are
composed of two hilly, lush islands (Cochino Grande
and Cochino Pequeño) and 11 small coral cays. On
old British maps, they are called "The Hog Islands"
and lore has it that British pirates (Henry Morgan
and the likes) "planted" hogs on these cays so they
would have meat on their return trips. In 1993, the
Honduran government designated these cays and
surrounding sea a Marine Biological Reserve. We had
a wonderful day in the sunshine snorkelling and
sunbathing, just like real tourists.