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Camp and day’s information: Tuesday, 23rd March 2004

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N. Teakettle Village
Amigos Restaurant Camping





Drizzly am. Then hot. Intermittent rain Snacks. MG - burger & chips. SM chicken stew

When our alarm went off at 05h30 it was still raining - so much for our spectacular sunrise atop a temple.  Nevertheless at 06h00 we decided to get going even though it was still raining lightly, at least we wouldn't have to bun-fight with lots of other tourists.

We got together some stuff that Fabien had left in Nyathi, took it across to him, gave him a wake-up call and said we'd probably catch up with him later.  We went into the park just before 07h00 and it felt like we had the place to ourselves.   The guide books weren't exaggerating about the wildlife and parakeets flying overhead.  We were really quiet when we were walking through through and spotted three different species of monkey, coatis and lot of birds both big and small.  In fact one coati, really took a shine to us, or was it those Doritos?

In comparison to Copan, Tikal ruins definitely had less carving and stelae, but we loved the feel of being deep in the jungle knowing that lots of temples, palaces and other structures were nearby, and having to almost search for them.  Tikal is grander in terms of size and number of structures, as well as the spread, or at least that's how it felt to us.

We climbed the steep staircase at the side of Temple IV and had a brief, but terrific view from the top.  For a moment we could see some people at the top of another structure in the Grand Plaza away in the distance, but then the mist rolled in.

The really disappointing thing for us was the weather.  The drizzle continued for most of the morning, although it was still warm enough to walk around without a rain jacket on, particularly as we were most often protected by the jungle canopy.  When we climbed to the top of Temple V the cloud cover had created a cloak of white above the forest and obscured the view of the many other structures we knew were protruding above the forest canopy.  Every now and again when the wind blew a little, we could make out a temple in the mist, but we were cheated of the panoramic views and the majesty of it all.  Still, instead we got the mystical feel of the forest smothered in mist, with terrific vine-dangling trees and roots crawling all over the place!

On our way out in the afternoon we bumped into some of the gang with the RVs.  Sadly, John and Bev's transmission had finally given up the ghost, so they had to miss Tikal!  Back at Nyathi, we caught an hour's nap and then got ready to leave for Belize.  In hindsight, we should definitely have camped at Jaguar Inn, because when we went to use the camping toilet and shower (only the mens' had been open the night before and this morning) it was locked and nobody was in sight.

 So we set off for the border.  The roads on the Guatemalan side close to the border weren't the best. They were a white clay mud which made Nyathi very dirty!  Just before the border there was a bridge which the official claimed would cost 20,000 quetzales ($2.50) for our 'truck' to cross, because passes through a park region (there was certainly no evidence of that to us).  We ended up paying $1 (normal car fee) and the guy shrugged and let us through.  It's annoying how they make up any excuse to get more money out of you!

Entering Belize was easy and very efficient.  Probably the best looking border we've seen in ages.  The staff were also extremely friendly and of course it was great to be able to speak in English again.  There were no tourist or vehicle importation fees on entry (except a US$5 fumigations fee), but apparently the exit tax is a hefty US$37.50 for both of us!

We stopped at a lovely place called The Trek Stop about 8km west of San Ignacio, but they wanted US$5 each to camp and we wouldn't get to benefit from the facilities tomorrow, so we decided to look for an alternative.  Fortunately just beyond Teakettle Village we stopped for dinner at Amigos and parked there for the night.  The servings were very generous, tasty and not too expensive.