Guatemala (Tikal & Lago Atitlan) & Belize & FL.

Trip Start Aug 27, 2007
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Belize  ,
Saturday, September 29, 2007

After learning some basic Spanish in Antigua, I was ready for a fun weekend excursion.  Tim and Gideon (from the student house) and I were going to head to El Salvador for a few days.  Our tour guide canceled without notice so the three of us instead headed to Guatemala's largest and most beautiful lake, Lago Atitlan.  We arrived at the lake, and boarded a very overcrowded water taxi.  We had no place to sit and were huddled under a tarp in an attempt to stay dry.  After a short trip across choppy water we arrived at a little lake town named Santa Cruz.  The hostel was right on the water and had a great atmosphere.  The hostel is known for their Saturday night cross-dressing parties which I hear are quite a riot.  The party was cancelled that night so I kicked back on a hammock that overlooked the water and listened to some people playing guitar and hand drums.  That night I saw something I had never seen before.  It started raining and the lights from the town on the other side of the lake caused a dim rainbow to form in the dark evening sky.  That's right, a nighttime rainbow!  It was not bright nor was there much color, but it was definitely a rainbow.

The next day I took off to explore the other lake towns to find one I could make home for a week.  I ended up in the small lake side town of San Pedro.  San Pedro is known for their rock bottom prices, bohemia scene, and marijuana, which is the local cash crop.  A hotel is as cheap as $4.00 a night, and a large steak dinner costs about the same.  I signed up for Spanish lessons, found another great hostel, and made it home for five days.  The town has a few roads, but mostly just had dirt sidewalks that crisscrossed the town.  That week I made it a point to just relax.  A tyical day consisted of classes in the morning, steak for lunch, desert a bit later, a little reading, not much studying, and talking with other travelers at the hostel.  Come Friday I was ready to hit the road again.  Next stop, Tikal.

Tikal is an amazing place.  One of the most famous Mayan ruin sites, it is surrounded by jungle for as far as the eye can see.  I was hoping to get a guide to explore the site, but ended exploring on my own.  The jungle was teaming with life.   I saw howler monkeys (they sound more like a roar than a howl), spider monkeys, parrots, and a tarantula.  Later in the day, a park ranger took me to the top of the best monument for watching the sunset.  The park closes just before sunset, so a few others and I were lucky to meet him.  Experiencing a sunset from atop of a Mayan ruin over looking the jungle was really amazing.  I highly recommended it if you are ever there.

After a full day at Tikal, I headed to Belize for a couple of days.  I stayed two nights on Caye Caulker and one in San Pedro (It seems there is a San Pedro in every country in Central America ;-)  I was spoiled by Guatemala's low prices so I was a little taken back to find everything in Belize costs just about as much as in the United States.  Highlights from this part of the trip include scuba diving, my four lobster tail dinner, and hanging with a kindred traveler named Scott (i.e. Scooterlicious).  He was just started his round-the-world trip too.

From Belize I took of for Florida for my sisters wedding.  After an extended chat with customs, and driving around lost for a while, I made it to my sister's new house.  The ceremony was on Saturday and was held on the beach in Jacksonville.  On Sunday I headed south stopping in Orlando, Stuart, and West Palm Beach to see friends before flying out to Costa Rica.  After 5 weeks on the road I was feeling a bit tired, and a little lonely so it was great to have some time back in Florida to see family and friends.  I took off for Costa Rica feeling refreshed and very excited for the next leg of my trip.
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carter76 on

I simply cannot believe that this is your life! You have experienced so much already...and you have only just begun your journey.

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