Tikal and bruising my bum!

Trip Start Dec 30, 2010
Trip End Jul 06, 2011

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Flag of Guatemala  , Petén,
Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 112 April 25th continued - We finally reach Santa Elena. I jump in a taxi and ask him to drive me to Los Amigos hostel, I don't have a booking but we'll see what happens. 

At the hostel, they had no spare rooms, but for half the price of a bed, offered me a sofa or hammock. I didn't really care where I slept, so went for a sofa. It was at the end of the hostel, near the bar, a small seating area, some guy was passed out on the floor, very near a large sleeping dog. The night guy gave me some sheets and I laid down for a bit catching up on some emails on my itouch. Music was still playing and some people even decided to go on the Internet PCs, right next to my head. I slept dressed and eventually woke at 530am with the big dog facing opposite me on the other sofa.

Miles walked 0.74
Temp 26C

Day 113 April 26th - My sleep wasn't the best but you soon learned at this hostel that everyone either wakes at 4am to grab a bus to the nearby Tikal ruins or at 5am for a bus south or north of Flores. Because some people had left, I soon got a bottom bunk in a dorm and went to sleep for a few hours.  

I wake and head out to explore this small fascinating island. It is tiny, one can walk around the outside of the island in less than ten minutes. Crazy. It's hot as well! Mid 30s hot! Gingerman is melting! The west side of the island is exciting, there are three small wooden dock/piers to jump off. I see some locals are already swimming and I make a mental note of where they are. I continue walking around the island and settle on a late breakfast/early lunch. I'm getting to the end of my sickness and settle for a combination of coffee and juice for a late breakfast and a small pizza for early lunch. The pizza is made fresh and therefore takes a while to come out but when it does, it was very good. So I notice a large lcd TV stuck to the wall in this small cafe, so I ask the owner nicely if it was OK for me to come back in an hour and watch Man u v Schalke. Of course they didn't mind, a Brit watching sport they knew they were going to sell some beer.

I head back to the hostel, book a tour for Tikal for the next day, weigh up some options of future transport and then head back to the cafe. It took a while to find the right TV channel, for some reason, fox sports have a channel where an audience is interviewed mid game, couldn't put up with that so eventually found a continuous stream. After a few minutes three Aussie guys sat down then a guy from the USA also. So, the owner was pleased to be selling lots of beer. United dominated the game and won and I was pleased with this as the head coach of Schalke had criticised the British people for putting vinegar on chips/fries. Ralf Rangnich got what he deserved, his team played poorly and I hope they throw chips at him at Old Trafford next Wednesday. I think it's out of order to be critical of the culture of a country, especially when it comes to my favourite, vinegar. Anyway, the result was even more satisfying after those ignorant comments.

The cafe was very warm, I left a few pounds lighter and needed to head to the lake and jump in. I changed into my swim shorts and walked over. The little dock I chose was fairly busy but enough space to strip off and run and jump in. The water was so cool, so refreshing and one of those moments where you feel so at peace with yourself and the world. If you've seen Forrest Gump, the comparison is when Gary Sinese character Lt Dan kind of thanks Forrest for rescuing him in Vietnam then jumps in the ocean and floats on his back at peace with himself. Just floating around in the water was heaven, I was so relaxed, so happy and unsure whether I would ever get out.

I did though, I headed back to my dorm through some small, enclosed passage ways and as I got into my dorm started chatting to Joni who lives in Toronto but originally from Buffalo. I stand there dripping wet as we chat away and the conversation for some reason got onto parents who, as a treat, pay for their sons to get laid in Amsterdam. I was about to write I hadn't been drinking, but I did have three bottles during the Utd game. Anyway, I helped her find a laundrette then showed her the way to the west part of the island to where we saw the sun slowly setting. She took one look at the little docks and we went straight back to the hostel to get changed back into swimwear (I had changed before into normal clothes to show her the laundrette). So back in our swimwear, we grab two bottles of beer, leave them on the dock and jump in. Joni, conscious of her good looks, wears a small top over her bikini, being conscious of my good looks, I take my tshirt off, everyone is blinded!! We jump in and swim around for a while. But, it's tough treading water and chatting to someone for a long time without coughing up water, partly drowning, getting tired etc. Joni tells me of her fear of sharks and the water but overcame that fear in Belize. It was time for the beers, because she was wet and there were young guys around, Joni thought it would be best for me to walk up a slippery staircase and grab the beers. Now, I got up OK, I walked down two of the 6 stairs and handed Joni her bottle of beer. For no reason, I then forgot where I was and stopped paying attention to my feet and the inevitable happened, I lost my footing and slipped..........I flew into the air............my butt crashed on the bottom step......my arm cracked the side of the stair case and as I hit the water I had one thought......my BEER!!!
As I was entering the water I lifted up my arm, that was holding the beer, straight in the air and as my body descended into the water, all I could hear Joni say in a water mumbled voice was
'I've got the beer' as she grabbed it from my hand. Fully submerged in the water, I kick my way back to the surface with a big smile and some giggles! Joni was laughing too, well, after making sure I was OK. I think I broke my ass and bruised my arm, but nothing a little embarrassment won't heal! Some locals were laughing too and it was one of those moments when you wish you had a camcorder and if only Jeremy Beadle was still alive, he could have enjoyed it too!

Joni and I must have sat there for an hour or two, chatting away and even though the sun had disappeared, the air was still humid and it was fun drying out while sitting, feet dangling into the lake. Joni is fluent in Spanish, is 22 and still at uni/college, she wants to be a journalist and from her experiences, instead of running when she sees trouble, she gets out her camera. A very confident young lady very interested in local cultures and local people. She loves her family very much and talks about them frequently which I liked. She also hated her ex boyfriend of two days ago and talked about him frequently as well. In a sad way, over the time I spoke to her, she says life for her is much better when she travels and is away from home. I see her having a great future, she'll write for a newspaper eventually and I look forward to following her career as it develops. She is also very fun to be around and a character who doesn't say no to random nights out. I also liked her philosophy on relationships and for someone so young, has a great deal of travel and life experience behind her.

We head back to the hostel, to change again, and grab some more beers and some food. At the bar, when I ordered some drinks I get chatting to a guy called Toni. So, there was Joni, Tony and Toni. A very friendly Swedish girl also joined our table, Sofia. She has been volunteering in Costa Rica and was in Santa Ana when I was there for my birthday. She went to a local religious gathering where people dress as devils and whip and spank everyones bottom. Sofia said they didn't hit hers hard enough, even though her friend fro El Salvador was asking the devils too. Then, from nowhere, Jesus appears, walks over all the devils, goes inside a church and then repeatedly hits the devils on the bottom. A very random event but Sofia was glad she saw it. Sofia is from Stockholm, and I thought she said she was 34, but that confused me as she kept talking about a relationship she had for 3 years when she was 19, I just couldn't understand why after 11 years she would still be talking about it. She also lived with her parents still, I didn't judge, just enjoyed her company. Turns out she is 24, but luckily didn't hate me too much for thinking she was 34 for a day. She didn't look 34, I just misheard her. Sofia and I would go to Tikal together and she was great company, sadly for her, the ginger gringo is very talkative all times of the day, so she had that to deal with from 6am the next day, luckily, we were on different buses so she could sleep, lol. We shared some stories and talked intensely a few times, but like I said, great company! Another awesome Swedish person!

Anyway, back to the night, I had a vegetable jalfrezi, it was OK, I can't wait to enjoy a good curry from home!! Toni soon went to bed, but Joni, Sofia and I were soon joined by Zac and some tall Welsh guy who we called Switzerland, I'll explain. We played the card game asshole. When a round was completed, there would be a CEO and at the other end of the scale, an asshole. With their being 5 of us, someone always landed in the middle, and thereby being called Switzerland. Each time a round was won, the CEO chose a new rule and after some more drinking and more playing, it became some drunken fun, to the point where we were kicked as it was past drinking time at the bar. Seeing as Sofia and I had to be up at 4am, we thought we would call it a night at midnight, but at 1am found ourselves at some private party in town and then at a 24 hour corner shop drinking beer in the street. Finally, at 2am Sofia and I headed back to the hostel, I saw Joni was getting some unwanted attention so made sure she was alright and she says she was.

A fun evening!

Miles walked 1.46
Temp 35C

Day 114 April 27th - Two hours sleep really wasn't enough! I wake, brush my teeth, fill up my water bottle from some random tap and add a chlorine tablet, pack some things and spot Sofia slumped on the floor outside, waiting for the bus. Why do I do this to myself before going on a tour? Anyway, as the old man I am, and sometimes a bit or a worrier, Joni hadn't come back to the hostel. But, it was only a couple of hours since I last saw her, so was pretty confident she was OK.

We were driven to Tikal in small mini buses, it took around 75 minutes but the seat I was on had very little back support, I ended up sleeping leaning forward cuddling my bag, sweat and beer pouring out of me, oh boy, it's going to be a long day!

We got to Tikal and were given 20 minutes to grab a coffee and wake up. I had booked a tour guide, knowing I would just walk around the ruins in ten minutes, find a shady area and go to sleep. Sofia had not booked a guide so as we were agreeing to meet later for dinner, the tour guide walks around, tells everyone its his birthday (Luis 36) and because of this, everyone who didn't pay for the guide, gets it free! A bit annoying I spent a little more cash but then I get to hang around with Sofia for the rest of the day, not such good news for her as the coffee had woken me up and the chatty Gringo has emerged from the beer soaked sweaty gringo.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about the tour, but if you are ever in Guatemala or Central America, this is the mother of all Maya ruins. We are shown a small scale version and the guide informs us of the route we are taking. He was an excellent guide, he is very proud of his job, loves his Tikal and has worked there for 16 years. He is down to earth and in no way inappropriate or sleazy, he also had a Brooklyn accent and could easily be mistaken for a New Yorker than a born and raised Guatemalan.

We walked through jungle, saw more Howler monkeys and of course they were wound up to get a reaction. We walked around some trees with large spiders just hanging around. The problem with many people being on the tour was that every picture opportunity took time to move on from, there must have been 50 people on the tour. Luckily, it was 630 am and still relatively cool, Joni and Toni went to the tour the previous day at midday and melted!

The first temple we came across, when the guide clapped his hands, a small bird like sound came from the staircase, unbelievable. The amazing part also was that all these ruins were buried deep under earth and trees and take around 6 years and plenty of cash to slowly unveil them. The guide is positive there are more lost cities to be found.

I climbed the first temple but couldn't see much in the jungle tree line. My butt was hurting too, sadly Sofia wasn't keen on checking to see whether there was a bruise or not. It felt like there was a big deep purple one, ready to photo and be splashed on my blog....!

We wandered around many of the temples, I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on them, or try to relay any of what the guide said, but the experience was good and some of the sights amazing, these Mayans were very very intelligent. 


Now there was one funny story to share and it came with the temple with the worst climb to reach the top. I think it was temple IV, I came to the edge of the temple, looked up and could see a young lady at the top who hadn't thought about where she was going today and was wearing a little skirt and lucky for her, very clean and very white underwear!

From a distance, she was at the top of this tall temple and I had to point it out to Sofia who laughed, but the best was yet to come. On the side of this temple is a very wobbly, very steep wooden staircase to climb. It was only after I had gone up and down that I asked the guide about fatalities and there had been 4 recent ones, the most recent a 29 year old German girl! Sad. But this was not the funnier part of course!

So, while the guide was talking to us, skirt lady was trying to work her way down the staircase. There must have been at least 8 sections to navigate and she came down with her back facing out, but of course, the breeze was constantly blowing her skirt up that everyone was looking and everyone was starting to giggle. The poor little thing knew it too, you could see her cheeks (facial) going red after every section she climbed down. It didn't help that when I lined up to start climbing up, some old guy stood there shouting 'yeah baby' and taking pictures which was a little creepy. Yes I looked but my camera stayed in my pocket. As I climbed up, I spoke to her briefly, she didn't really care, just wanted to get down the stairs alive. When she did reach the bottom, she got a standing round of applause from everyone! So funny!

At the top, when I finally got there, there was very little leg room, the top ledge was packed and some people, Sofia included, hugged the wall for dear life.
Sofia and I stayed at the top for a while, I even managed to find a place to sit and relax but couldn't help to think of the injuries or casualties from this temple. I kept the thought to myself, to not freak anyone out! The journey down was not fun at all, taking one step at a time, slowly lowering yourself to the next step, it also didn't help that I noticed a hole in my shoe, the kind of thing that would distract me as I descended! One slip, you would be gone and I still have so much more to do and see! However, while travelling, you do gain a new sense of fearlessness, what could wrong on this adventure, well so far, just a fall on my backside!

] We moved on once at the bottom to the main plaza and the end of the tour. The guide left us to our own means for a couple of hours and for Sofia and I, that meant grabbing a soda, finding a tree and relaxing in the shade! We got chatting to a girl from Victoria who lived in Northern Ireland, Durham and Ireland for various guys she dated and was in medicine. She seemed very adventurous and was soon off exploring, she did go to bed at 9pm the previous night, I think Sofia and I were now struggling. The main plaza has the tourist brochure view of Tikal. This is where temples I and II are located. We climbed temple II with a Canadian girl who had a fear of heights, we helped her to the top and enjoyed the fantastic view at the top of temple I. 

We continued on for a while longer, but it was now nearing 11am, the sun was beating down and sapping any energy that we had. We found a mask hidden in the plaza, got someone else to take a picture of the two of us and then strolled along back to the cafe to wait for the bus back and to try cool down. It was Dubai hot! So so hot!!

Back at the cafe, we stopped melting and could not think past going to the lake edge and jumping in. Seeing as Sofia only got to the hostel last night, she had yet to jump in the lake. The bus back was uncomfortable and hot. I arrived back before Sofia and found Joni relaxing in a hammock, those you know me know I worry some so I was pleased to see she was safe. She had met some Brazilian guys and her and Zac went swimming at 4 in the morning but got lost trying to find the hostel! I also got Joni to check out my butt as I lifted up my swim shorts, but to my disappointment, not bruised, it hurt to touch but nothing colourful to snap.

Sofia arrived back and we all got changed to go to the lake. We chose the one furthest north and it felt so good to jump in. The relief was evident on my face and Sofias! We came across super cold currents and some really warm ones too. On the dock were a couple of young British lads from Hampshire, very cheeky chappies. They shared some of their rum and we hung there for a while. Some dude tried to sell us drugs, he even jumped in the water (I was hiding in the shade under the dock) and tried to see if I was interested, a flat out 'no man, I'm not interested' his brief attempt at being friendly stopped and he moved onto another girl from the USA. The girls were hungry and seeing as I had little to eat, we found a little pizza place and had margaritas (to drink) as well as a pizza. Poor Sofia, was ready for bed as soon as she finished her last slice. We did head back to the hostel, but none of us went to sleep, we hung in hostel for a while, rehydrating before agreeing to buy some alcohol and going to sit back at the dock. I was around 7pm and this time I wasn't wearing my swim shorts so just jumped in with my boxers on! During the next ten minutes, not one nipple but both got nipped by little fish swimming around. Their little mouth just big enough for my nipples, typical! We sat on the dock to dry off and bought some red bull and a bottle of vodka. The cheeky British guys came back again and we were having a fun time talking about all sorts of stuff. But, locals continued to join us, rudely interrupt us and talk to Joni, they either wanted free drink, fags or to steal something. Joni was being nice to begin with but after a while asked us to talk to her solely, the guy was being inappropriate and luckily pissed off after a while. You know, I'm all for being friendly, but when a stinking homeless guy comes to you and is being nice, there is an underlying reason, he could tell from my body language I didn't want him there and he kept interrupting us when we were talking. grr!!

After a few hours, still exhausted, we headed back to the hostel, Joni had bought some cards and between the three of us played asshole again, but I was losing the will to stay awake and when I called it a night, the girls did too. I said my goodbyes (I was off to Belize early next morning) and hit the sack. I slept poorly as during my dreams I couldn't work out how to get to Guatemala, even though I was in Guatemala. I also am in the habit of when I am having fun with new people, I forget to get my camera out to take pictures, but I prefer to be enjoying myself than wondering what would look good for the blog. I know there might be some disappointed readers seeing as there was some more bikini action but don't worry, there is still Belize to come!

Miles walked 4.2
Temp 36C 100F

Day 115 April 28th - I got a juice for breakfast, packed my things, checked some emails and while waiting for the bus, chatted to the girl from Victoria again and met another two great Swedish people. Hands down, my favourite traveller producing country, of course there is Erica and my Agneta and Nina (my Angel Falls nurses) as well as Bjorn (Puno) and Sofia who I had just met!
The bus to Belize was a small mini bus and a large USA guy sat his big butt next to mine and was happy to open his legs wide so I would have to close mine. What is that about? Is it an alpha male thing? A power thing? I find it so rude and a bit weird to be touching legs, so will squash them together, anyway, being unsociable with my itouch, we head to Belize city. The Victoria girl and Swedish couple were on another bus to Mexico.

I saw them again at the border crossing, a fairly painless experience although you have to carry all your luggage as the Belize side want to check it, but all they do is ask, 'you av n e ting to declare mannn?'. I enter Belize.
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Pastey Pete on

Hey Ant - you are starting to look a wee bit tanned!

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