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"To see a world in a grain of sand, And a heaven in a wild flower; Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, And eternity in an hour." William Blake


Manatees and Sting Ray Alley

January 20th, 2009 by sunflowers

Caye CaulkerCaye CaulkerWe stayed on Caye Caulker an extra day to go and do a Manatee tour. The ‘Sea Cows’ closest relative are elephants and they hang out in shallow coastal waters munching up to 50 kilos of sea grass a day. They have a snout and a weird round flat tail but I didn’t manage to get a shot of it even though we had a few slowly circling the boat. We stopped on the way back at Sting Ray alley were they feed the rays and you get in chest high water with 30-40 of them which is a bit daunting at first.

Posted in Belize | 1 Comment »


Blue Hole and Boobies

January 19th, 2009 by sunflowers

We ended up having wait another three days before we could go diving as a tropical storm came in so we were stuck in a cheap ($15/night) but leaking cabana. When we finally dived the Blue Hole it was a bit of a anticlimax as other than going down to 40 meters and seeing some stalactites and a few blurry sharks (the visibility was poor) there wasn’t much. The next couple of dives at Half Moon Caye and the Aquarium were pretty cool with a few turtles and a lot more fish but the snorkelling between the dives was the best. There was a boobie bird sanctuary (they have red feet). One of the boobies shat all over me including my chest which Steve got a lot of amusement from.

The day before we had dived Hol Chan marine park as a warm up and seen a couple of sharks, a few eagle rays and lots of fish. I really want to get an underwater case for my camera.

Caye CaulkerCaye CaulkerCaye CaulkerCaye Caulker

Posted in Belize | No Comments »


Belize

January 18th, 2009 by sunflowers

Caye CaulkerUntil 1981 Belize was a British colony and called British Honduras until 1973. It would have gained independence from Britain a lot earlier but there was border disputes with Guatamala which are actually still ongoing. There are about 300,000 people and the country is about 280 kilometres north/south and 100 kilometres east/west. Officially it is English speaking but a lot of people speak Spanish and Kriol ( or Creole is a mixture of English, Mayan, West African and Spanish) with only 6% speaking English at home. Belize City is besieged with cruise ships three or four days a week and I found people a bit aggressive but so far outside the city everyone has been friendly. On the other hand the sand flies have loved me and I now have multicoloured legs from the bruises of dropping the bike on my leg at Mexican customs, stubbing my toes on the boat and a body covered in bites.Belize Zoo

Posted in Belize | No Comments »


Caye Caulker

January 15th, 2009 by sunflowers

I found a place to store my bike in Belize City and took a boat out to Caye Caulker. I spent the first three days reading as the weather hasn’t been that good and then finally did some snorkelling as Belize has the second largest reef in the world (after Great Barrier reef in Australia) and it stretches 160 miles along the coast of Belize. So hopefully if the weather gets better (it has rained all day today) we are going to do a few days diving including the Blue Hole.

It has been nice to relax for the last few days and I finally got an internet connection today as it is expensive and slow.

Posted in Belize | No Comments »


Crossing from Mexico to Belize

January 9th, 2009 by sunflowers

Belize CityUnfortunately I am going to have skip the Yucatan Peninsula where I really wanted to do a cave dive as when Mark decided to go home I was a bit upset and Steve said that he would come over from the UK and join me for three weeks and I thought that I would have already done the Yucatan so we decided to meet in Belize. It was with some sadness I left Mexico today and crossed over from Mexico into Belize. Just for reference as I couldn’t find anything on the internet it cost 30US for 30 days insurance (compulsory) 2.5US to fumigate the bike but that was it. I had to hand in my bike import form but didn’t pay any departure tax from Mexico. Maybe that was because I managed to drop the bike on myself backing up from customs.

I was pretty excited about being in a Caribbean country and having Jerk Chicken but the first few towns I rode through only seemed to have Chinese restaurants.

Belize CityReaching Belize City I rode around for about an hour looking for a cheap place to stay (dorms in hostels here are 20US) that would also stored my bike while I went to the islands. I found a hotel that said they were stored my bike for 20US for three weeks but that tonight it would be all right parked on the road as someone would be in reception. But tonight after a scary walk back from the restaurant (almost every guy I passed made some suggestive remark) where I met a lovely American tour guide who bought me dinner (thank you Kelly and good luck for your tour group) my bike is parked on an empty street and the reception has no one in it. Then in front of my room door was an empty food carton with a huge cockroach in it. But the hotel looks out over the water and I have a slow access to an unsecured internet connection so don’t feel too sorry for me ;-).

Posted in Belize | 1 Comment »


Fear Factor

January 8th, 2009 by sunflowers

So many times on this trip I set off somewhere new by myself and am quite scared but then I meet some cool people and everything is ok. I think it is good to be nervous as it makes you cautionous as long as you don’t let it stop you from doing the things you want to do. Plus things are always more scary to begin with. I think that Bryce Courtney sums it quite well in this poem from his book a Recipe for Dreaming.

Go where you’ve never been before. Dream up a destination, a path to follow, a wildest unknown way, over rocks and scrag, across high hills where the winds bite cold with malice, through deep mysterious valleys where the wild things roar and echo and rumble and stamp and hiss great clouds of steam from their terrible hugging ways.

Dream the impossible dream and start walking towards it.

On the way you’ll be beaten up, chewed, spat out, mauled, ripped apart, given up for lost. Quite soon you’ll learn what it feels like to be beaten up, chewed, spat out, mauled, ripped apart and given up for lost.

This is called ‘experience’ and it’s very, very valuable in life, because what you mostly learn from it is that you were more afraid of what might happen that what did happen. Most successful outcomes are achieved by calling a series of conventional bluffs.

One bright sunny morning you’ll discover that the wild and unknown way you took is carpeted with moss and strewn with tiny flowers. It has become a familiar path, a well trodden direction which has put you miles ahead of anyone else and much, much closer to achieving your once impossible dream.
Palenque

Posted in Mexico | 2 Comments »


Palenque and Oil Change

January 7th, 2009 by sunflowers

PalenquePalenqueI rode to Palenque on Wednesday morning. I also realised that my bike was due for it’s next service including an oil change so before going to the ruins I stopped at a garage and tried to explain I wanted an oil change but had no luck. So felt a little uncomfortable being by myself but when I got to the ruins a lovely Brazilian coupled pulled up on their bemmer and stopped to chat for a while as they were heading to Alaska. It was nice to hear that so far they hadn’t had any problems. It was also just nice to talk to someone and strangely they had gone out of their way to ride to the ruins entrance but weren’t going in.

Palenque was one of the power holds of the Mayan people and deserted to the jungle around 700-800 AD and as you can see from the photos pretty impressive. Afterwards I rode by a motorbike garage and managed to convey that I wanted an oil change. I am going to do the rest of the service myself but didn’t have an oil pan or a place to get rid of the old oil.

PalenquePalenquePalenquePalenque

PalenquePalenquePalenquePalenque

Posted in Mexico | No Comments »


Toniná and Agua Azul

January 6th, 2009 by sunflowers

Leaving Ocosingo where Sergio’s family lives we stayed with his uncle who worked along side the original missionaries to the area. We then visited Toniná, one of the Maya ruins that included a huge pyramid complex of seven stone platforms making a man-made hill and is the tallest pyramidal structure in the Maya world. Hello in Tzeltale is ‘tela me man’ and ‘tela me medic’ (phonetically spelt masculine/feminine).

Afterwards we camped at Agua Azul a huge cascading waterfall and in the morning Sergio left to meet up with the council in San Crisóbal about an irrigation project as he has just finished an engineering degree. I thank him sincerely for showing me around, introducing me to his people and culture and wish him all the best for his future.

SergioSergioSergioSergio

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Posted in Mexico | No Comments »


Blouses and Baths

January 5th, 2009 by sunflowers

While visiting Sergios friends I received two blouses, one tortilla towel and two bags. I found out that the purple and white top is fully hand made and would have taken three or four months of evening work. Thank you to Rosa.

We also spent an evening with the Lopez family who offered to adopt me giving me a new name ‘Anita Lopez’. After giving me a summer blouse (the white one) along with a matching necklace they showed me the effort that went into weaving. I think it would have taken me a bit longer than a few months. A lot of the houses have a sauna hut and bathing is a social activity. Thank you so much to the Lopezs for such a wonderful evening.

Most people in the area have a subsistence living. Growing their food and selling the surplus. It is also a coffee growing in the region which seems to be grown on a small scale rather than mass production. Everyone works hard and it was interesting to understand the lives of the people that I passed riding along the roads.

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Posted in Mexico | No Comments »


Sunday in San Cristóbal de las Casas

January 4th, 2009 by sunflowers

After looking around San Cristóbal on Saturday (a popular town with tourists) I met up with Sergio a local rider on Sunday morning. There are 8 groups of indigenous people descended from the Mayans in Chiapas living in different regions with their own languages. Sergio is a Tzeltale of whom many are Presbyterian Christians and we went to two church services. I had to get up and speak twice which Sergio translated much more eloquently than I had said. To get to one of the churches we had to ride up 10 miles of dirt road which was a bit nerve racking at times and made me thankful for having a tough bike.

We then spent the rest of the day visiting various friends and relatives who fed us and took many, many photos. One of the big benefits is that after mainly a tortilla and meat diet I finally got lots of different vegetables. The hospitality I received was beyond description.

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Posted in Mexico | No Comments »


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