Tikal, Rio Dulce, Livingstone in Guatemala and swimming with sharks in Belize

Hi friends! Step by step I arrived in Belize, which according to the map of Travbuddy is the my 78th country visited. I’m however still at 37%. I don’t understand where is the bulk of the remaining 118 nations, but I’ll find them one by one, fear not.
I tell you from the last time. From Lanquin I arrived to Flores, a beautiful small town on an island in the middle of a lake, near the Mayan site of Tikal. Tikal is very large, was founded around 900 BC, and reached a population between 150,000 and 200,000 inhabitants. Today it is surrounded by forest, which makes it even more fascinating, both for the vegetation that covers and conceals its buildings, both for the many animals that hang out and scream all around. I saw monkeys, foxes, toucans, tarantulas and some mammals halfway between rats and teddy bears, of which I don’t know the name.

Then I went back on Rio Dulce, in a town that takes its name, idling for a couple of days in a hut on the river, inside the forest, and from there I crossed the lake with a speedboat arriving to Livingstone, by the sea, where the population is predominantly black, and there is a Caribbean mood, like Jamaica.
From there, literally flying over the waves for about an hour with a speedboat on rough sea, I arrived in Belize. I wasn’t sure if going because different travelers didn’t speak too well about it. One problem is that it costs more than the rest of Central America, but at the end the prices are still low, on the island of Caye Caulker I was in a hut in front of the sea for only $ 15.
Another problem is that the Belizean are lazy and everything moves slowly. But even here it doesn’t seem to me a big deal, not considering that also in the rest of Central America people don’t hasten back and forth frantically… but anyway we are on vacation, what’s the hurry, and even if we weren’t… who runs behind us… we are from Naples…. no stress.
Actually, the sea of Belize is fabulous. Caribbean, spotted and striped of green, blue, turquoise. Furthermore in the island Caye Caulker, where I stayed 3 days, I made one of the most fun experiences of my sad life: swimming among the sharks! It was incredible, but already before, while snorkeling on the coral reef (the largest in the world after Australia) a strange thing happened. A small shark, a type unknown even to the guide, liked me and was spinning around constantly, often swimming in sync with me under my belly! He looked out from a cartoon, dark gray, very small, with an exaggeratedly square head. I could even touch it.
Then we went to another sea area. The guide threw pieces of fish in water and after a while the boat was surrounded by sharks over 2 meters long, brown in color, who were fighting on the pieces. Then the guide told us to go in the water. In that moment I thought he was joking. But, becuse he insisted that there was no danger, I was convinced. Only thing, he said, don’t put your hands inside their mouths. Well, lucky us that there are the experts giving us these precious advises.
The water was crystal clear and shallow, I touched, and a part from sharks came a dozen of manta and some barracuda.
I could touch the sharks and the guide sometimes took them in his arms, belly up. They remained sluggish, almost as if hypnotized, and I could caress his belly. I also touched the manta, they have a slimy skin. However, once again, an extraordinary experience.
Now I’m in San Ignazio, a town in the forest, near the border with Guatemala.

And now let’s look the photos.

 

The most famous temple of Tikal. Until about ten years ago it was possible to go on the top, but is now prohibited due a couple of fatal accidents of tourists fallen off the stairs.

 

After being abandoned, the forest has swallowed Tikal, which was rediscovered only in the 1850s.

 

The central plaza of Tikal. In the background, the apartments where lived the most powerful people.
Ah, just to be totally sure, I checked again the hieroglyphics and texts and yes, I can confirm with absolute certainty that the world will end on December 23, 2012.

 

Tucan.

 

Tarantula.

 

Street of Rio Dulce.

 

The hut where I slept in Rio Dulce, practically over the water of the river, in the forest. Every night, between blinding lightings and roaring thunders, there was a biblical downpour.

 

A hot water waterfall near Rio Dulce. Climbing up, there is a natural hot pool, from where the water falls down. The place is called El paradise.

 

Men.

 

Abstract.

 

Parrot.

 

A street in Guatemala.

 

Woman and little girl in Livingstone, Guatemala.

 

Old man in Livingstone.

 

Vegetable.

 

Boys.

 

Punta Gorda in Belize.

 

A supermarket in Punta Gorda. For what I’ve seen so far, all the mini and supermarket in Belize are run by Chinese.

 

Night lights.

 

On the speedboat to Caye Caulker.

 

The pier of Caye Caulker. As you can see, there is a sea that is well worth a few dollars more.

 

House in the middle of the sea.

 

The iguana who hung around my bungalow in Caye Caulker. More than anything it was a kind of shaky palafitte. In the night downpours, it danced with the rain.

 

Bird.

Shortly after this picture, my camera died for two days. This occurred almost certainly for some of my stupid ironies about an Italian magician, “il mago d’Arcella” (Arcella’s wizard), which later I learned had died just the day before my post!
I’m not superstitious, nor I believe in the afterlife, but the facts speak for themselves: immediately after foolishly joking about the ability of divination of this magician, and his apparent ability to send jinx, my camera started working bad, until turning off completely.
In the exact moment in which I rectified (in the Italian version of this post) my camera started working again.
He was a Great Magician. And would have never sent anyone bad luck, even from beyond.

See u! :-)

Mayan ruins of Copan in Honduras and Semuc Champey in Guatemala

Hello friends. I’m in Lanquin, again in Guatemala, after a brief trip in Honduras to visit the Mayan site of Copan. In front of me there is the Rio Dulce, clear and green, my mind synchronized on its flow. Images of 6 months of travel born, pass and disappear as in a dreamlike mosaic.
Nearby there is one of the most spectacular places among those visited so far: Semuc Champey, with natural pools formed in a valley.
And not only. There are caves in which flows a river. We went inside with candles, swimming into the cave for long stretches. Sometimes there were small waterfalls. Some points are also a bit dangerous, for example near the end of the tour there is a tunnel just 1 meter wide, and long about 3, where the water enters with violence. Following the instructions of the guide I come out to the other side without even having the time to understand what happened. Truly an amazing place, even though the water was a bit too cold for my taste.
Ah, another amusing experience, always in these fabulous scenarios, floating on a rubber donut letting the river currents carrying me lazy.
Before coming here, as I said, I was in the Mayan site of Copan in Honduras. Very interesting, not very big but with beautiful sculptures and stems, some in the museum nearby. It was located near the southern border of the Mayan empire and reached its peak between the fifth and ninth centuries AD.
I explain more with the pictures.

 

Here is where I’m now, a hostel consisting of huts that go down to the river, where there are these platforms over the water. The night I prefer to sleep in a hammock beside the river, with its sound, under the stars.

 

Some more photos of Antigua in Guatemala.

 

Little girl in Antigua. Over 50% of the population of Guatemala is a direct descendant of the Maya.

 

A skeleton in Antigua’s market. As if to say: sooner or later… all. Sad but true.

 

A street in Antigua.

 

The Mayan site of Copan in Honduras.
I must tell you that I have seen the hieroglyphs, read the survived codes and texts and unfortunately I came to the conclusion that the world will end on December 23 this year. Eh, I know guys, that’s it! The fact is that the Mayan calendar ends exactly on that date. So far I thought it was stupid to be frightened because it’s as switching from 1999 to 2000 or something similar. In reality however the Mayans predicted that when this happens catastrophic disasters occur. And Maya didn’t make errors in their predictions. So, have fun in the few months remaining, and patience, it all ends, nothing is forever.

 

Here the Maya played ball. We don’t know the rules exactly, but more or less consisted of hitting a rubber ball of about 4 kilo without dropping it on the ground and trying to hit the sculptures placed on top (some depicting macai, are in the museum). In some cases it was like a gladiator game and the losers were sacrificed. Other times it was the best player to be sacrificed because for them it was a great honor. In this case, however, everyone played badly on purpose, except the most stupids.

 

And here you see the hieroglyphics clearly say: “spend all the savings before December 23, 2012, because after they will be useless. But it will be very hard not be robbed before by international finance and bankers. May they die. With pain. Together with the cops and judges who protect them”.
This is written. I have just translated literally.

 

The hieroglyphic stairway, a long text written on the steps. The highest among all the Mayan sites. Unfortunately sometimes the meaning is not clear because some steps have fallen, and archaeologists have put back them a bit at random, creating a sort of Dadaist cut-up.

 

One of the many stunning Mayan carvings.

 

Card players in the country next to the Mayan ruins, still in Honduras.

 

Little girl.

 

Mother and son.

 

Bank’s guardian.

 

Old people.

 

Beautiful girl.

 

In Honduras.

 

The Rio Dulce. I did this stretch on the rubber donut.

 

And here Semuc Champey. Rock walls of thick vegetation surround the pools that run under. Something curious happens: the river, which at that point is very violent, enter into an underground tunnel, passing under these pools, and coming out again after a few kilometers.

 

The pools seen from above.

 

One of the pools.

 

Abstract.

 

Hasta luego! :-)