Guatemala & Honduras

  The raining season was slowly slipping into our daily occurrence, well at least it was in Belize! So we were reminded that we better get going so we don’t get washed out further down the road!  We aren’t in a big rush but definitely eager to see more of Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Panama.  Still so much coast to cover!!  So with that Rian and I did not spend too much time in Guatemala and Honduras.  We figured theres always later or on the way back up!  
  Crossing into Guatemala was again another breeze.  There was an exit fee for Belize, we got our passport stamped, received an import permit for the car in Guatemala and a new passport stamp and we were done!  We changed some money into Quetzals, bought a new sim card and filled up the gas tank which was much cheaper then it was in Belize!  
  We drove West in Guatemala for an hour or two and stopped at the Maya ruins of Yax-Ha, a recommendation of Thors’.  We arrived at mid day and figured we would drive up the big hill to see the ruins before setting up camp.  We could have walked up later but it was one of those “we have motivation lets do it” kinda things.  But let me tell you, we truly experienced the change in seasons in Guatemala that afternoon, boy was it hot!  
  What made Yax-Ha a different experience for us was that you really had to use your imagination to picture the ruins as they were or might be still.  Today most of them are covered by huge trees and jungle. Some of the temples are uncovered and being restored but others just looked like big hills with vines, trees and roots covering the structures.  Even though it was 104F or 45C we took a nice stroll through and enjoyed asking each other multiple questions that neither of us had any idea as to the answers.  This got us in the mood for Tikal and getting a tour guide!
  The camping area at the park was on the lake and had great palapas.  Unfortunately the lake is home to very big crocodiles so we didn’t go swimming that day, but when we arrived a school bus with Guatemalan students was having lunch there.  Some of the students were gathered together giggling and whispering and from what we could tell trying to speak English.  It reminded us of ourselves all the times we try to get ready to speak Spanish.  The ladies came over and introduced themselves and told us in English that they are students studying English and asked if they could practice with us.  What a treat!  Both sides did there best to try to think of questions and answers.  Just like us trying to understand Spanish they asked us to speak slower and we all had a laugh since we all understood the difficulty of learning a new language.  We swapped names and are now friends on Facebook!  
  The next day we ventured towards Tikal.  Since you can’t enter the Tikal National Park until after three o’clock unless you want to pay twice we headed to the Lago de Izabel to cool off.  It was surprisingly a very cool and clear lake that we enjoyed thoroughly in the heat.  We reached Tikal and arranged for a guided sunrise tour the following day.  We also finally broke that day and used our air conditioner.  It was awesome!  At least we made it this long with out it! 
  We woke up at 3:30am to meet the group at 4 to walk through the park to Temple 4 to watch the sunrise.  It was dark but of course still way too hot for that early in the morning.  As we walked with our flash lights the light reflected on what we thought was droplets of water but really it was the reflection on thousands of wolfspiders, ew.  We followed the guide and climbed to the top of the temple and waited for sun.  The howler monkeys and birds were awake chirping and chatting away.  The mist of the morning lifting from the jungle and the sounds of the jungle was unreal.  Unfortunately the clouds blocked the sunrise but it was probably for the best for heat purposes.  From there we toured the ruins and were very happy we had a guide with us so we could ask all of our questions and actually had answers!  These ruins are the most restored and are truly amazing.  The placement and measurements the Mayans calculated to line up the temples with the exact position of the sun during each equinox throughout the year blows my mind.  The power and amount of people they had to build these cities is incredible.  You could spend days absorbing the ruins and allowing your mind to wonder, it is very a special place.
 
  It was hot as you know and we had enough ruins for the day so we decided we would have a nice a/c truck ride and headed south!  We loaded up on more groceries, got a quick hair cut and made our way to Finca Ixobel.  The next morning we started to pack up so we could get back to a coast, seriously it was hot in the jungle but then we we got to chatting with Gerrit and Els from Holland.  We talked and talked and talked until we realized we should just stay another day and keep talking and have a coffee!  The day went on like that and led to us all having some beers and snacks and then to combining ingredients and making a wonderful dinner together and having some wine.  The chatting went on for maybe 16 hours that day!  It was the best!  Els and Gerrit have spent the last three years on the road exploring South America and are now making their way North. The conversations and comfort we had that day was priceless.  Like I have said before, the best part about traveling is meeting new people and swapping stories and enjoying new company in a new places! 
  Refreshed and our faces hurting from smiling and laughing so much we headed South to Rio Dulce.  There was a celebration of Labour Day that day in Guatemala and we ended up not being able to get the truck through the carnival set up to get to the camp spot we had planned so instead we ended up at the Marina.  Ah, good old marinas, home sweet home, but this time on land.  Splurging a bit we paid for the night and enjoyed the pool and the electricity of the marina.   We played some pool volleyball that day with the kids there and indulged in some ice cream that night and snuggled under the blankets with the air conditioner on full blast, it was such a treat.  The next day we decided to go closer towards the Copan border crossing in Honduras.  We spent the night at another great hotel parking lot that had a huge pool and lots of Guatemalans celebrating and geared up for Honduras.  We knew we could explore more of Guatemala but we were getting really really hot and we need to get back to the coast.  Yes, yes I know we missed the Lake but theres later.
  The Honduras border we crossed has the most tourist use to get to the Copan Mayan ruins so we thought it would be an easy one.  We arrived around 8 or 9 in the morning and got in line.  It took about and hour to get our vehicle permit canceled and then we were off to Honduras.  I think the lines were moving slow since it was the day after a long weekend, but it was shady, we had some plantain chips and just waited.  The less rushed you are the easier these border crossings seem to be.  Leaving Guatemala and entering Honduras was another breeze. 
  Once all the paper work was sorted we were off!  We heard that San Pedro Sula might not be a good idea and it seemed like the main road back tracked a bit so we decided to go a different way.  What looked like a main road on the map was definitely not.  Not only was it a long dirt road but it was a long dirt road going through the mountain range.  Nothing a little four wheel drive can’t solve.  It might not have been the easiest way to go but it was definitely the most scenic!  We drove through endless mountains covered in coffee plantations and small villages.  The smell and the view was amazing.  Finally after a longish day of driving we arrived at a hotel that allowed campers.  The hotel also had hot natural thermal pools, but unfortunately they  were being cleaned and refilled but the atmosphere and quietness was priceless. We threw back a few cold Port Royals and enjoyed the evening.  It was much cooler in the mountains then the jungles of Guatemala.  The next morning I even saved a rat that feel into one of the pools that was stuck.  Don’t worry I didn’t touch him but scooped him out with a pool net.  
  We were off again!  Rian and I were finally on the main highway and we just kept on driving!  We drove through Tegucigalpa the capital of Honduras that afternoon and kept going to get closer to the Nicaraguan border.  Using the ioverlander app we found another great hotel camp spot just north of the town Garcias. We enjoyed the beautiful property in the mountains and got ready to get back to the coast!  

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