Happy New Year 1999!!
Welcome to our adventure web page. This winter John and Candace entered the world of the Mayan people for business and recreation. It was great and our story follows:
As you know if you ever really fly enough the airlines do award miles for free tickets, but there is always one catch, you are always the first to get bumped and the last to know!!
We started on December 11 traveling to good ole Los Angeles! Ki was going to New Orleans to visit with his family and we were leaving from LA to go to Guatemala. We did an afternoon of Universal Studios and got wet in the Jurassic Park ride. For some reason we were the only ones that were in line, we would get on the ride, tie up our plastic raincoats (which they sold to us at the entrance, I wonder why) and we would end up the ride plummeting down a steep waterfall. We would get off and go back around and get back on another boat!! Fun!!
So the next day we get Ki off to New Orleans and our flight is set to leave at midnight. We searched for toys to bring to los ninos on our trip, and returned to the airport to find out the flight wasnt to leave at midnight as scheduled, but for 11:15 and we are only 1 hour and 15 minutes early, THEY SOLD OUR TICKETS!! Nothing available. Do we sit in LA airport for days on standby AT CHRISTMAS destined for a place where everybody is WANTING to go, or do we find another CLOSE ENOUGH COUNTRY! we opted for the latter. WE got tickets to Washington DC, across the US from LA and the next day we landed in EL SALVADOR. Immediately we jumped on another flight to Guatemala City, AAAgh, we arrived only 3 days late. Something was just a little wrong. Our backpacks didnt arrive in Guatemala. We dont know what happened other than the plane had 3 times more baggage than people, it was on EMBARGO, so they said. One person told us the backpacks never made the flight from Wash DC and were being trucked to Miami and then would arrive a week later in El Salvador, but at that time we would then be exiting Guatemala going to Belize. We figured at that rate, the bags would follow behind us in every country we went to and would make it home after us. So to make this long story shorter, Johns bag arrived a week after we came home (A month later) and mine has never shown up!!
We were grateful in a way, we only had to carry a small bag.
Upon arriving in Guatemala,
we flew to Flores, a small town in the Largo de la Itza in NE Guatemala, near the ruins of
Tikal. We spent 3 days in Flores, a lot of time on
the telefono trying to locate baggage. We were the only Americans around, a lot of Germans
it seemed and a few French. But essentially, no touristas.
After 6 days in Guatemala we traveled via land to Belize City, to catch a water taxi to Ambergris Caye. This is where we ran into our neighbors, Dawson and Laura, that live a blook from our house in Portland, and we had no idea they were going to Belize. Believe it or not we ran into them again in San Iganacio, unplanned. (more later in the story). The cabana at the Paradise Reef Resort was just what we needed to relax, read and just slow down. It was great. Although the town artists were busy repairing a lot of the beaches and diving shantis that were torn apart from Hurricane Mitch.
Fidos was our favorite hangout and food place. Ask for Rosie from Hopkins Village and Tanya from Canada, our favorite servers. Speaking of Fidos, we noticed there were many Belizean dogs running around homeless. And we were always visited by a couple @ Fidos. One night this little female was hanging out with us and Tayna said she tried to help them every night with scraps, but the sad part was that once every few months or so, the local city administrators passed around "koolaid" to the strays to kill them off. We felt so sad we tried earnestly to find the little female, I guess in some last ditch effort to save her temporarily. We bought Chicken Weiners in the can, you know em and we walked around each night looking for the pup. We didnt find her again, but we did find a true friend that looked for us each night and could spot us down the street as we walked towards him. He was our little "chicken weenee dog."
We did lots of diving while we were there. A deep dive in the Blue Hole at 130 feet and we swam amongst a group of black tipped sharks, that we could see lurking deeper under us. The Blue Hole was studied by Jacques Costeau, and it was determined that this phenomenon was originally a cave system that collapsed that has wonderful stalagtites and stalagmites on the inner ledge. We also dove at the Hol Chan wreck, Turneffe Caye, Long Caye and visited the isle of pink footed boobies and iguanas. The night before we left Ambergris we did a night dive in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve, and the blood worms are the worst sea organism I can describe. Protect your ear holes, eyes and nostrils, theyll go up anything!
Well, after a week we decided to move on and took an island flight to Belize City where we picked up a Samurai, the warrior jeep that pulled us through the worst mud in Barton Creek. Anyhow during our diving trips we met our new friends Garrett and Nancy and all four of us drove to Gales Point to see the manatees. Well everyone was out for christmas. We went to Gentles cool spot and hired a man named James to take us out in the Lagoon. He carried the motor out over his shoulder, put it on his canoe and said "you know how to ride in a canoe?" I tell you if one even turned their head too much we leaned. But we made it out to the middle tied up to a branch sticking up out of the water for about an hour and watched these black noses pop up every now and again. Made it back just fine and started our trek again where we crossed paths with some old growth cutting of these huge mahogany trees!! Arrived in San Iganacio and made plans to Barton Creek Caves. We ran into our friends Dawson and Laura again.
Barton Creek Caves and David, a little peaceful, happy rastafarian man was our guide. Getting to the caves was an adventure. It began raining as we walked to the trail. This was only after driving the blue samurai through backroads in Amish country, up muddy slopes and across a river. Anymore rain and we werent getting out. We piled into 7 canoes and we began the water adventure. Barton Creek Caves is a Mayan site filled with stalagtites and stalgmites and many burial sites. Later that evening for christmas eve we walked around San Ignacio and watched the local kids stand in line and wait for Santa Claus to arrive in a big red truck.
Christmas day we crossed a hand-cranked ferry to Xunantunich, a pre-classic to post-classic w/ about 10,000 people once living there. Onward we began our drive to Rio Bravo. We came across signs on the road about save our planet, Monkey Bar Ecological .. Biogas. We stopped for a visit. It is an ecological center for education with a biogas system set up originally for pigs, now provides the cooking power for the camp from the outhouse. After visiting for a while and setting up plans for a future test structure there, we finally made it to Rio Bravo Conservatory. The air is so sweet, the selva is bonita. Good to be back.
A little bird said hello. I am sitting in my hammock in a cabana at the La Milpa Station. It is beautiful. We walked to La Milpa, only 2 miles west of the field station. I smelled cat along the way, and not just your plain old domestic kitty. The site at La Milpa is very large, 3rd largest in Belize next to Lamanai and Caracol. Spotlight drive at night, saw an owl and a few birds and heard a few scary stores while sitting in the back of a truck, the next morning there are puma prints at the site.
Bird watching, great curassow, great black-hawks, mealy parrots, yellow napped parrots, black and white owl, squirrel cuckoo, barred gorest falcon, and yellow earred toucanet. We leave Rio Bravo at noon to Lamanai. A rainy day, we walk quickly, Nasario the ranger guide still there from last year is giving the tours. 2 cokes and we are on our way to San Felipe to meet with Ramiro and his family and talk about the school project for 2000.
We arrive in Corozan Town to return the rental car and start our bus adventure at the border to Mexico. This is the day of the buses from hell and the sealed toilets on a 5 hour bus. We finally arrive in Playa del Carmen and realize we want out as fast as we can. There is everyone in the world here, tourists!
Again we are on the streets of Playa del Carmen. 1-go to the bank, 2-get rental car 3-get out of here. Drove to Tulum and stopped at Dos Ojos Dive Center. Couldnt find a place to stay and found what we called the "truck stop." Later that night I had my first skinny dip in the ocean and we get robbed for two beers and a litre of water! Back to the truck stop.
The next am we dive at Dos Ojos with Issac. We hop into this old beaten vehicle-the remnants of an old truck with a make shift carriage to standup for people in the back. Down the jungle road to a small hole that no-one would ever know was there. A ladder carries you down to a platform to the most beautiful caves I have ever seen.
It is now New Years Eve and we are on our way to Chichen Itza. The El Castillo, the largest Temple had many people on it. Muchas touristas. The ball court was fascinating. We were able to hear each other from one end to the other by just simply whispering. The observatory and sacred cenote were also spectacular. John and I studied the orientation of the solstices and equinox orientation and shadows. Later that evening we attended a light show at the ruins with a gourmet dinner to celebrate our trip.
It was a great trip. I have left out so many stories and photos to keep brevity. But if anyone is planning a trip, please let us know we have lots of contacts and great stories to share.
Many adventures to you in the future.