A Travellerspoint blog

Tikal to Rotan ( Honduras) to Granada Nicaragua.

Total miles 4500+

semi-overcast 30 °C
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After spending a few days in soggy Tikal we drove to the Honduran border, then up to the Atlantic coast. Where we took a boat across to the bay islands, just off the coast of Honduran mainland. I forgot how beautiful the Caribbean is, white powdery sand beaches and beautiful turquoise water, it was so nice to be on a beach again. Unfortunately the weather wasn't great, but it was a nice place to chill for a few days. Good food, fantastic snorkeling, some of the best scuba diving I have ever seen and beautiful beaches.

After 4 days on Rotan we headed back to the main land and then south to the Nicaraguan border. We spent the night at a border town and crossed early the next morning. We had heard that the Nicaragua border was a bureaucratic nightmare with mountains of paperwork lots of people to bribe and a potential 2-3 hour process. But it was a piece of cake and it took us less than an hour for our paperwork and everything for the car. I must admit each time I cross a border I do get a little nervous and it does usually take and hour or 2 with the car, but the crossings seem to be getting easier as we go.

Now we are in Granada, an old colonial town next to massive lake ( with fresh water sharks), not far from the capital Managua. By the way, a suggestion for anyone else traveling to, or through Central America; don't use the Lets Go Guide Books... I don't know what drugs the girl was on that wrote the section for Nicaragua but her description of Granada as "a place of astonishing beauty"... "whose colonial charm will tempt you to stay for ever" isn't particularly accurate.

The only thing astonishing about Granada is depth of the holes in the road. Yesterday, I nearly ripped off one of the rear wheels when I drove over, or should I say into, a man hole in the road without a cover. To be fair though, it is a developing country and the highways here are excellent. But as soon as you get off the main roads and into the small towns the roads literally fall apart and turn into a slalom course complete with hundreds of holes, horses, dogs and people.

Anyway the food here is great, the people are really nice and tomorrow we are off to yet another beach, on the pacific coast this time, which should be a lot dryer. Then next week its Costa Rica, where we will probably ship the car before heading across the Darien Gap and into South America.
Granada Nicaragua
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The Hole
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Posted by hayden111 14:43 Archived in Nicaragua Comments (0)

Xela to Antigua and Tikal (miles... no idea)

rain
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We spent a couple of days in Xela relaxing and catching up and then headed for Antigua, 3 hours north; a beautiful colonial town in the mountains between the volcanoes. The day after we arrived we took a bus to Placaya, an active volcano just outside of Antigua. It was incredible; we hiked to the top of the volcano and walked through the lava fields where the lava was still flowing. I got completely carried away with snapping pictures and forgot how dangerous it was and nearly fell through the crust and into the lava. Definitely one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. We stayed and watched an incredible sunset before hiking back down through the jungle in the dark.

Pacaya Volcano in Guatemala
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Mountain top Silhouette
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The next day we drove north to Tikal to see the Mayan Ruins. The roads were retarded and it ended up taking us 2 days. At one point the highway just ended at a lagoon/river and we had to put the car on a ferry and shipped it across, which ended up taking nearly 2 hours. It made for an entertaining afternoon though. They really aren’t into bridges here, or tunnels for that matter. There is no driving through mountains in Central America, just over or around them.

We took a tour to Tikal at 3am the next morning to watch the sunrise over the Mayan Ruins. Unfortunately it was raining in the rain forest, surprise surprise. It was really cool though; we sat up on the top of one of the temples and listened to the animals (incredibly loud howler monkeys, tucans etc) wake up as the sun rose. We hiked around the ruins for a few hours had breakfast and then headed back to town.

We are in Honduras at the moment headed for hotter dryer weather in the Honduran Bay Islands in the Caribbean. Hopefully I will get to do some scuba diving and get some much needed relaxation at the beach. I need a holiday from my holiday.

Mayan Ruins in Tikal Guatemala
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Posted by hayden111 06:52 Archived in Guatemala Comments (0)

Puerto Escondidos to Xela (Gautemala)

The road trip nearly comes to a very premature end.

sunny 18 °C
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In a state of nervous trepidation we headed to the Guatemalan border. We decided to leave early as I had heard it was a bureaucratic nightmare and could take up to 2 hours just to process the paper work for the car. After driving through the mob of money changers and other randoms that swarmed around us as we drove from the Mexican border to the Guatemalan border, it only took an hour and it was relatively painless. Once we worked our way through the forms and red tape, it ended up being surprisingly easy.

After crossing the border we headed to Xela to meet Alex. From the map it looked like the drive would take 2 hours or so but after more than an hour of climbing over several mountains on some of the shittiest roads I had ever driven on (potholes, trucks, chicken buses, and 300 rabid dogs running across the road) we still hadn’t gotten anywhere.

By the time we had made it to the top of the mountains the car was not looking good. The temperature gauge was going through the roof and I couldn’t drive more than 5 miles without it overheating to the point where it was boiling the radiator overflow bottle and spilling water all over the road. I was in the middle of nowhere in the Guatemalan mountains with a car close to death.

I would like to say that I was very cool calm and collected during the whole experience but I wasn’t. By the time I finally limped into Xela and tracked down Alex, I was a stressed out mess. Every light on the instrument panel was blinking making the inside of the car look like a Christmas tree, the speedometer had died and I was losing power with every kilometer. I was so relieved to make it to Xela and put an end to what had been by far the most stressful day of the trip.

Alex hadn't been having much of a good time either. While I was enjoying a relaxing drive across Mexico with my new Lithuanian companion he was backpacking around Guatemala, getting a taste of the poorest country in Central America. He put my stories from Mexico to shamed as we sat down for a beer and he described his last 2 weeks. From dodgy hooker infested hotels and people stealing food of his plate at restaurants to watching someone be murdered in the streets, he had had a rough few weeks. While he was on a bus headed for Xela he was passing through a small town and heard what sounded like gun shots. He looked out the bus window and saw a man shot in the chest 4 times. He died there in the streets in front of hundreds of people.

We spent a few hours swapping stories and enjoying the local Guatemalan beer before calling it a night. The next day when we took our wounded car to a mechanic to get it checked out. After an hour or so the head mechanic had found the problem. A small piece had broken off the radiator cap which in turn effected the pressure in the cooling system, rendering it useless. We couldn’t believe it; a $2 part nearly fried the engine and ended the trip very prematurely. We are definitely lucky though and I am glad I kept a close eye on the temperature gauge and stopped as often as I did to refill the radiator.

The twin volcanoes at Lake Atitlan 2 hours west of Xela
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Alex and Renata with the locals in the square in Xela
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It had been an interesting few weeks for both of us. We had both gotten our feet wet and with the car back as good as new (we still didn’t have a speedometer so we have no idea how many miles we have done or how fast we are going) we were ready to hit the road and continue the drive south.

Renata and a salesgirl
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One of the local sales ladies in Guatemala
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Posted by hayden111 08:36 Archived in Guatemala Comments (1)

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