It sure has been great Belize, but it's time to go


12/18/16

San Ignacio, Belize to Melchor de Mencos, Guatemala.

19.6 kilometers ridden.

I started out slowly getting ready before taking a final shower in the small bathroom by my room. The ability to get the water temperature to something other than arctic blast or surface of the sun seems to be getting worse each day. We went out for breakfast at a place called pops. It was the most western place I had been too in weeks. It had vinyl diner booths in a deep red color that would be at home in any greasy spoon in the US. I ate a bacon and cheese omelet with pancakes but paid more for it than I would have at a less Americanized place.

We went back to our hotel and Aaron, Ed, and I sat around exchanging digital files of our photos and videos so we each had copies of everyone’s media from Belize. It took a long time so as each of us finished we set off separately to be ready to leave. I was the last one out at past 12:30 but when I got up to Ed's hostel he and Aaron were both still there. We talked a bit about the day and all set off on our own.

I grabbed fuel and hit the road for the ruins at Xunantunich and made a slow run there at about 90 kph. Despite leaving last, I was the first one to the hand crank ferry that crossed the river to the site of the ruins. The little barge was just leaving as I arrived so I got to watch the whole process of the two men cranking it across the river and back. Aaron arrived before it had made the return trip and we boarded together and got cranked across to the other side.

So how many horse power is two dudes with a crank?
It was a blazing hot day and I decided I needed some sugars to make it though the exploration, so after Aaron and I got our bikes and gear secured under covers, with locks, and cabled together I grabbed a coke from the little store on site.

The ruins themselves were spectacular and we were able to climb to the top of the tallest and most intact section of the site.

The site really was amazing and not very crowded at all.

Looking back to where I took the last photo, but this time from the top of the ruins

Just a couple of former soldiers on over watch with a few current ones. Armies are armies and soldiers are soldiers.

I took many photos and as I reached the top to join Aaron we saw Ed approaching the tower. I shot some photos and video from the top of the tower before we all descended to check out the rest of the site and head for the bikes.
 
Found this little guy on the climb down.
The intrepid explorers from England....

Aaron is clearly a rules follower.

We rode from there to the boarder together and made our way through the exit process. It was a 40 Belize dollar ($20 US) exit fee to get out and then some struggle to find where to get our vehicle papers cancelled. Crossing into Guatemala without much issue. The Guatemalan side of the boarder was a good bit more complicated. We got the bike fumigation taken care of, but you could only pay in Guatemalan or US so I covered everyone’s fumigation since I had US dollars.

Then the fun started.

The boarder helpers were everywhere and even when we said we were good and didn't need help, one latched on anyway. It took a few hours to get ourselves checked in, the bikes assessed and entry papers done so we could pay our import fee of 160 Guatemalan Quetzals. The bank would not take cards or US so we had to use the money changers. During the process Aaron had to go for a copy of his drivers license so he had to get the fixer to take him. I had left my GoPro on and shooting a time lapse so I was nervously watching the bike like a hawk. When it was all said and done I still refused to pay the helper as I had told him I wouldn't from the outset. Aaron and Ed each paid and we set off. We made a mostly clean get away, though Aaron did manage to drop his bike trying to leave the parking area in front of the aduana.

We rode into town and got a triple room with AC at the first hotel up the road. It was $250 Guatemalan but with each of us there it was just a hair over $10 US each. Once settled we went to the ATM, where mistakes were rife but I got out 2000 Guatemalan to hopefully get me through. Aaron and Ed were both not as lucky and got either much less or no money at all.

We walked through town where a festival was happening and took in some of the sites as we looked for a place to eat. After a loop we settled on a fried chicken place and tucked in for a meal. After dinner we walked a few more of the shops and stalls where Aaron and Ed bought some fireworks that they proceeded to light off in a park where some young kids were doing the same. It was nice to watch the kids playing with abandon and not being nannied to death by helicopter parents. A last set of larger fireworks were set off on a street corner where one rocketed away across the street, up a lamp post, and nearly hit a motorcyclist stopped talking on his phone.

The guys opted to go back and buy more fireworks and wander while I chose to go back to the room and hand wash my clothes using the wash powder I had bought while out. It took me a long bit to wash my clothes in alternating buckets of water in the large concrete basin by head lamp, but it felt good to be doing some work. The guys came back while I was still working and Aaron scared the hell out of me. They stood about while I finished and I went about hanging my clothes up on the line to dry. I spent the rest of the night writing and reviewing footage while Aaron journaled and Ed played games on his laptop. It was to be our last night staying as a group but it sure had been a hell of a week.


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