We at least stayed long enough to take a sailing trip out to the barrier reef for the best snorkelling of our trip so far. All the pictures of turtles, stingrays, nurse sharks and moray eels are on the underwater camera so you’ll have to take our word for it and make do with Sarah swanning about on the yacht instead.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
We left the mountains of Mexico for the jungle of North Guatemala – or at least a pretty little town on a lake, near the jungle. We were struggling without our Spanish speaking guides, Ali and Ed, so stayed in Flores a while to take some lessons.
Our teacher Paqui, was great and did her best with the willing yet hapless estudiantes. At one point she looked up the English translation of her name ‘Paquita’, which turned out to be ‘Fanny’. She was very disappointed when we explained what her name meant in contemporary English – American or British.
Our headmaster, archaeological guide, cake provider and general host, Dieter. Anyone visiting Flores should make sure they bump into him at some point, for at least a beer if not for one of his tours. Some German’s do have a sense of humour, it’s just not the same as anyone else.
Most people visit Flores for just one day as a base to see the ruins at Tikal so we saved them for our last day. They’re really impressive, spread over a vast area of jungle with monkeys to keep you entertained between each ruin. We think we’ve seen enough ruins for a while now though, as like Buddhist temples and Colonial churches, it feels like ‘you’ve seen one Mayan ruin, you’ve seen them all’ (but don’t tell Dieter we said that – or any monks or priests for that matter).
Monday, 8 February 2010
Saturday, 6 February 2010
On our first night we went to the cinema (a cold room at the back of a cafe) to watch a documentary about the local guerrillas, the Zapatistas, fighting for indigenous peoples’ rights. They’re still active in the surrounding forests and after the film we jumped every time a firecracker (that Mexican’s seem to love so much) went off. The situation didn’t seem so serious though, when we discovered you can buy cute knitted figurines of the outlawed guerrilla generals from the local indigenous market.
We went for a high altitude bike ride with a nice chap called Marco. We chose the easiest route he had on offer but Iain still nearly couldn’t continue after the first small hill. Altitude really does make a difference – as does 4 months of eating and drinking your way around the world.
Monday, 1 February 2010
We got to spend a few more days chilling out in Puerto Escondido before we managed to drag ourselves away and head off on the road again. It was difficult to leave after just three weeks and we now realise why Ali n Ed called it home (that’s their house above) for more than a year.
We took a short city break from the beach life in Puerto to visit the local state city and some surrounding sites. It’s a really nice town but very high up in the mountains so also pretty cold. We hadn’t realised Mexico had so many mountains so we’d dumped almost all of our warm clothes after Siberia. That meant we had to share one cardigan and a pair of jeans between us in Oaxaca.
Monte Alban is the big local attraction – impressive ancient ruins with amazing mountain top views. Iain had read about Mesoamerica’s Mayan culture in a book and wasn’t too impressed that this place was created by some unheard of civilisation called the Zapotecs.
We went to visit Ali and Ed in Puerto Escondido, Mexico and were joined by Willie for two weeks and Fee and Chris for three. That meant we got to have a long, proper (if you only count childless siblings) family Christmas and it was brilliant.
New years eve started with a deep sea fishing trip, where we were joined by hundreds of dolphins swimming around the boat, jumping and spinning. We thought the dolphins would distract us from the important business of catching fish but fortunately there were so many that we soon got bored of them and forgot they were there.