Thursday, December 9, 2010

Tikal, Guatemala to Copan Honduras

Tikal- Guatemala to Copan Honduras

As I was woken up this morning, this time by the green parrots outside my window, I fixed up the bike, did some minor repairs and maintenance and prepped up for Tikal.

In doing so that crazy lady hailing about the apocalypse passed by again and invited us to a game of make shift jeopardy with the local neighborhood kids. We kindly declined, at this point I thought to myself, “man this crazy lady has been in the jungle a little too long, hailing about the apocalypse and all”

As we rode into Tikal, we were once again welcomed by spectators looking at us. Starting from Belize we’ve been a side show of some kind, or perhaps better explained, we get looks from most people as if we are the circus coming into town. It’s flattering, but can get annoying at times when you’re just chilling in one spot and the entire town comes out to see what the commotion is about. None the less, it’s pretty fun to be the center of attention…. Sometimes

We also met a nice couple that also was riding motorcycles through Latin America, we told them about how we had a bullet proof vest, and they decided to try it on.

The gentlmen also had a KLR just like mine, but had 14,000 miles, and still had the same front stock tire! That gave me hope for mine lasting just as long, as finding a back tire in Merida Mexico was a nightmare to say the least.

They apparently bought their bikes in San Fransciso and rode them all the way down just as myself and Brett.

Tikal, compared to the last few Mayan sites we’ve visited was exceptional. It was like Palenque in Mexico, but way more jungle.

Once again, lots of Europe tourists. They're starting to become a plague down here
Local bird population of the Ruins

Awesome tree in Tikal

Entrance to the park was decorated by crazy road signs that had, “Jaguar crossing”, “turkey crossing, “snake crossing” etc. You know your deep into the jungles in Guatemala when you see those.

Also in the park, were a huge group of howler monkeys, an amazingly loud noise we could hear from miles away at the top of the jungle canopy.

We also cut through jungle and thick bush that had giant spiders and mosquitoes to try and find them. It was an amazing noise to behold.

We left Tikal and basically drove until it got dark. We arrived in Poptun before dark.

I had the best Chimichanga of my life in Poptun.

As we settled in our hotel, I decided to take a nice warm shower. Well so happenes this nice shower turned out to be freezing, oh well, there I go into cold water again, what's new right? Then I said to myself ‘well at least it can’t get any worse than this right?”. So then I went up to change the flow of the water from the shower head as you can see…

When I touched the shower head, I was given a complimentary electrocution by the stupid shower head that had the heating mechanism inside and some nice exposed copper wires. To top off the list of things that has happened to me thus far, being electrocuted while in the shower is now at the top of the list. After the electricity surged through my body, and my heart  continued its normal arrhythmic contractions again I started to laugh, and realized that it was pretty funny.

As I was getting into bed, I began to notice some odd noises. A loud ka-boom along, like a bomb going off with a massive hoard of Chinese fire crackers filled the streets at sun down. It was like 4th of July, loud enough to shake the walls of the room. This room in the middle of town had no windows, so all the noise from the street comes in, as if a loud speaker is right next to your ear.

Horrible thing is that it’s now 9pm and they are still going at it for some strange unknown reason.

There’s a local motorcycle punk gang outside the street yelling and causing commotion shooting off fire crackers and whistling at everyone driving by. This is going to be a tuff night.


Like I said, a tuff night, so the hotel doesn’t have windows, well just shades, so all the street noise and commotion comes straight into the room. At 2 am some guys decided to move their vehicle that had an annoying back beeper, which took over half an hour.

Then at 6am we were awakened by the sounds of firecrackers going off once again! The circle of life of this town begins once again.

As we left Poptun, we continued to see the beautifulness that is Guatemala.

Driving through this place enacted a funny moment of déjà vu, in fact I now remember that some mountains I just saw, were extremely similar to a dream I had many years ago. It was a peculiar feeling, but highly interesting to experience how the mind is funny and its inner workings at times.

As we continued we realized we were going to hit the Honduras border much sooner than anticipated. A whole day sooner.

As we drove up we had lunch and saw our good old friends the kiwi’s from New Zeeland that tried on our bullet proof vest in Tikal, crossing the border. Funny, that the world is so big, yet so small, meeting the same people in different countries. Just another fun story for the blog!

The female Kiwi's to Brett looking like a toy

Once again, I was inundated with paper work and running back and forth. I had to jump from Honduras to Guatemala back and forth getting copies of all our paper work and official documents. 5 copies of passport, 5 copies of permits etc, it was ridiculous, 20 some copies of papers and then some. More than any other border crossing yet.

We exchanged currency in Honduras, and realized we needed Guatemala currency (quetzals) to make more copies, oh boy time to cross a back into Guatemala to get copies for Honduras.

As my country hopping ended, we bid fare well to the fellow New Zealand couple and went on our way to the Copan Ruins.

As we hit the small town it was almost night falls, we roamed the streets and were confronted by a random man driving one of those crazy rick-shaws. Saying if we knew Alan. I was uummm maybe……why?(I obviously didn't know what he was talking about)

"They told me if I saw you to tell you where they were at." he said.

He lead the way to the hotel the Kiwi's were at.

So once again we met up with the Kiwi’s at a hotel in a random town in Honduras, funny again, the world so big yet so small.

As we settled in for the night I tried using the phone for some international calling. And yup, no dial tone. So I went next door to the other phone, and no electricity. Man my luck, I’m stuck with flaky internet all night and Skype.

Apparently the hotel we were at, which cost $30 US,  had limited electricity, so the lights surged in and out, and electrical devices turned on and off at the place because of power surges and consumption from the city and its people.

Well another day another story, off to bed!


Upon waking up we visited the Copan Ruins of Honduras.

We decided to walk to the ruins, less than a mile away. But I saw a great opportunity for a fun experience and to save some walking.

So yes I jumped on the back of a passing semi-truck slowing down for speed bumps. As I passed the ruins I noticed the truck was going too fast to get off. So I stayed on until it slowed down. Well it didn't slow down, it just kept speeding up, and going faster.

I started to get really concerned when the truck was going 60 mph and I was still hanging on the back of it. I tried putting my feet down to run off it, but they just got tossed around and had me hanging off the back of the truck hanging on to dear life with one hand.

As we kept gaining distance I contimplated just jumping off into the shoulder, heck I've done it before falling off a motorcycle at 75 mph, how much worse could it be.

Well after much internal thinking, a good 30 min of riding behind the truck, and many miles covered by the truck, I hung off the edge of the edge of it, waited for it to slow to about 45 mph in a turn, waited for some loose gravel, put my feet down, let them drag to get the feeling of burning rubber and shoes on the asphalt, to work on sliding control, and let myself go. I literally surfed my way on the gravel until I came to a complete stop, some how having the skill and balance to keep myself from falling.All those years of trampoline jumping and flipping understanding balance finally paid off!

My arms were completely stiff from holding on, dirty, a little banged up and my toes were killing me from taking the brute force of my body sliding over rocks at 45 mph, and had some crazy bruising.

I then hitch-hiked my way for 30 min and many miles back to the ruins.

So crazy and ridiculous things to do in life, check..... not planning on doing that for a while, could have ended up ugly.

I now wish I would have filmed it, but I realize it would have been impossible, and could have cost me dearly holding on with one had and filming with the other. Not worth the risk, but I'm sure it was quite the site to see a guy surfing the asphalt behind a semi-truck.

So back to good stuff, the Copan ruins, just as my research described, well preserved

It’s the best preserved Mayan site indeed

Perhaps not the prettiest, but definitely has the most artifacts and most well preserved.

This place awes literally along with all its artifacts underground and the archeologists had to dig everything up from the dirt.

Lots of this statues looked rebuilt, because Brett and I agreed, they looked a little too new.

Other than that, a fantastic archeological site I highly recommend, not the most impressive on quantity, but defiantly amazing on quality.

Nothing like a helping hand to scratch that ich that you can never reach

On he way back from the Copan Ruins back to the hotel, instead of taking another semi truck ride, we hooked up with our favorite New Zealand couple and shared one of those cool motorized rick-shaws

As we left I decided to check out a Cigar factory in Santa Rosa de Copan.

We arrived at 3pm, and there were no more tours.

Some nice talking and bribing of the security guards at the gate, and we were in for an amazing tour.
No pictures were allowed for keeping the secrets of great Cigar making still secret.  But I will tell you what I learned.

This factory has 800 employees, they get paid very cheaply, the aroma of the factory is amazing as soon as you walk in the front door, there’s people smoking cigars while they are working, the majority of the rollers and prepare-ers are all women, and lots of the major brands of cigars all come from this one factory, something like over 100 brand names all come from the same factory.

I personally don’t smoke, but the smell of a cigars being made, and its natural aromatic properties when allowed to sit in some humidity and cook, are quite pleasant, strong and good.

I managed to get us some fresh off the line cigars that had just been rolled for us to take home. Of course I handed mine to Brett. Nothing like fresh off the press hand rolled cigars from a cigar factory in Honduras to complete your genuine Latin America tour.

Cigars for everybody!

Tomorrow I look for a place to store Brett's motorcycle for a few weeks as he will be leaving back to the states to spend some time with his kids. And I will be off on my own again to Nicaragua, and try to make it on time for a distant relatives that I've never met before wedding where I will hopefully meet up with my aunt Amy from El Paso, who is also going, but is obviously flying there. Leave the crazy driving to me.

I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been following me and for the great support and awesome comments. Its truly appreciated, and its great to see so many people interested in such an adventure. I hope you can par-take somewhat in this amazing experience with all the pictures. Perhaps this is saving you a costly and time consuming trip through the Americas, living bi-curiously through this adventure via through this blog.

Until the next post, adios amigos!

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