Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Bus Rides and Mayan Ruins

I think variety is what makes Guatemala so interesting to me. Every region has something unique about it.

Rio Dulce, which heads in about 30 miles or so from the Carribean ocean, is filled with big, fancy sail boats. Many Americanos leave their boats here to keep them safe during Hurricane season. This was on our breakfast table in Rio Dulce town where a lot of the old `boaters` hang out... some of which end up with lovely young Guatemalan wives.

Sara and I parted ways that morning as she was going to meet her mom and I was headed to Flores in the North.

I waited in sweltering heat on the side of a urine-infested street for a bus that was over an hour late. The only other foreigners waiting were a Spanish couple who couldn`t speak English and weren`t really into communicating with me and my limited Spanish. I knew my adventure was really just beginning.

You can always see people in Guatemala sucking water or juice out of little bags. This one was filled with coconut and water, and when you`re sweating buckets a little foreign bacteria doesn`t seem all that bad... and it wasn`t.

The bus that finally came was packed full. I had to stand up in the front in the most uncomfortable postion(s) for 3 of the 5 hours it took to get there, with many stops of people getting on and off with all their bags. I`m always so curious about what`s in those bags. Lots of vegetables possibly.

I was also standing beside the seats of a family with a little boy who was seriously ill. He had dry heaves and was crying whenever he had energy enough to. I was less uncomfortable about my position than I was about the forecast of that little boy... God bless him. The father even offered me his seat at one point.

Flores is a pretty little town on an island where I stayed for a couple of nights. It`s about an hour from Tikal national park where an ancient Mayan civilization once existed. Ever see Apocalypto? Apparently a lot of the filming was done there and it was impossible not to think about Mel Gibson while wandering around.

I was excited to spot my first temple after a 20 minute stroll through a beautiful jungle. Although shortly afterward I met a worker who informed me that the trail I had just come off of was unsafe and that a woman was assulted and robbed the previous day. He said the rest of the trails were okay, but I was still pretty nervous. There are tourists, but not so many and it`s a big place.

I climbed the one behind me which sported a nice view beyond. I was scared to death though and didn`t even try to think about all the sacrifices of heads that were possibly thrown off of it in the past.

Here`s the veiw. To my left and right I could only see jungle.
Another fun aspect was seeing the wild animals. I heard what this animal is called but I can`t remember now. There were a few around.

And, finally, I spotted the monos. I had been hearing the spider monkeys all day long kept looking for them, but only came upon them at the end of a long, hot, sweaty day. They`re best seen in the wee hours of the morning and I had the chance to take a 3 AM shuttle to ensure sightings but opted out for obvious reasons. Anyway, voila, there they were. I saw at least a dozen eating berries in the trees and spitting them out. Now I know what the plunking sound is that I`d also been hearing.

Hard to snap them as they`re busy little creatures, swinging from tree to tree. One of them threw a branch at me, but I don`t think it was intentional since there were still berries on it.

Furry tree. I didn`t take a tour so don`t know anything else.

After Tikal I took a shuttle with other tourists to Cobàn. This photo shows a raft since there`s no bridge in one area. The cattle in the orange truck ended up beside us on the raft. Never in my life have I seen animals that packed together, solidifying my ideals that vegetarian is the way to go.

The 5-hour scenic ride is a bit more expensive than a bus, but filled with tourists and much more comfortable. The down side is the fact that there are frequent highway robberies on this stretch of road. I heard a few personal accounts even. Safety or comfort? I took a risk as per usual. This shuttle also has extra locks on the doors.
Speaking of animals. The driver gave a ride to some kids (they`re always doing that on the side... glad tourists are good for efficiency sake) who got off prior to our destination. The family who had seen them off had put some oddly-shaped bags on top and we discovered when they were coming off that one such bag had a pig inside. It had been riding on top all that way. It wasn`t moving much so not sure if it survived. Never eating pork again.

Anyway, no robberies or anything THAT exciting has happened to me. Call me lucky. And I wouldn`t take away that uncomfortable bus ride either. It was far too interesting and great Spanish practice for me.

This butterfly was in the bathroom in my hostel in Cobàn. A giant cockroach also flew out of my backpack.


At Friday, May 09, 2008 12:44:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great to hear about your on going adventures!

Stay well.


At Friday, May 09, 2008 7:23:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my gawd, Lisa! Please don't take so many risks! Great stories though but we really want to hear them in person at some point!


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