Matthew Kadey writes about biking from Belize to Guatemala from temple to temple.
A Complicated Border Crossing Being a stone’s throw from Guatemala, it only made sense to hop over the border and take a peak at the much renowned Tikal. Crossing into Guatemala turned out to be an adventure in itself, involving exit fees, confusing passport checks and a whole lot of waiting around as we dived headlong into the wonders of bureaucracy.
Mayan sculptues at Lamanai
“Watch out for the banditos,” our money exchanger unapologetically warns us as he eagerly snatches Belizean currency from my sanguine hands.
While the danger of being relieved of your personal belongings between this border and Tikal has all but disappeared in recent years, the threat of getting bounced around on your bike is still the reality. A shabby, rough gravel road welcomed us as we headed west towards the mighty Mayan city, as did the hollers of “gringo, gringo” as we passed by. A vast improvement to yells of the four-letter variety I often receive on the streets of downtown Toronto.
Coatimundis are everywhere.
These inconveniences were more than worth it, though, to see the towering pyramids of Tikal, hidden inside the verdant jungle of the 222-square-mile Tikal National Park. Steep-sided temples, rising to heights of more than 140 feet are surrounded by dense, wildlife-crammed foliage. Birds absolutely fill the sky. Bold coatimundis, cute little raccoon-like mammals with a ferocious appetite, lurk everywhere. So used to human interaction that they completely ignore me as I fire away several dozen photos.
But for some in the group, all these impressive sights were of little consolation, as a 5 a.m. wake-up call from our snug sleeping bags only to watch a rainy, sunless sunrise from the top of Temple IV was a tough pill to swallow following a big day on the saddle. For some Guatemalan historians, equally distressing is that the inhabitants of mighty Tikal appear to have had their butts handed to them in a battle with neighboring Caracol in A.D. 562. A kind of little brother beats big brother scenario.
To read more, go to https://www.gonomad.com/transports/0707/belize-biking.html