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Old 12-07-2010, 02:45 PM   #61
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Originally Posted by beechum1 View Post
Looks like you found another wife. They're usually not more than a stones throw away either.
Yeah, that'd be about the 4th one!

Thanks for posting that police info in Vinny's thread. I'm sure it will come in handy

We just had the first bride attempt of the trip. We rode from Chichen Itza this morning. We're meeting a friends from home here (Playa Del Carmen) tonight. We roll off a side road from Chichen Itza on to the main road between Cancun and Chetumal. There are police and military everywhere, I mean tons of the them, even by Mexican standards. There is check point after check point, Hummvees with belt feed .50cals, Federales in full riot gear complete with poly shields, news cameras everywhere. In a 2km stretch there must have been 500 cops and soldiers. I have no idea what was going on but whatever it was was big and important.

I had my helmet cam running as I always do when going though check points and by police, expecting to be flagged in but it never happened. Check point after check point, Humvee after Humvee. We get through that mess with no issues.

We're following the GPS directions to our hotel in Play Del Carmen and are almost at the coordinate point but can't seem to get right too it. The hotel seems to be surrounded by condos with no entrance way. We ride around in the gated community for 5 mins before stopping at the Oxxo to ask for directions.

As we're sitting in the parking lot a security guard rolls up on his scooter and is checking out our bikes. Then another guard comes and another and another. We figure out where we need to be, throw our helmets back on and Tim takes off the wrong way down the cobblestone street. It was only about 50ft the wrong way to get to the gate we needed to go through. The guard started blowing his whistle and yelling at Tim, who didn't hear with his helmet on. To keep the guys happy I rode the long way (proper way) around and to the gate. The hotel security at the gate house is asking if we have reservations and ID. As this is taking place, Paul Blart Mall Cop rolls up behind me with his minions in tow and taps me on the shoulder.

Him- "Corriendo",pointing at me and making a twisting throttle motion implying I sped away from the Oxxo. He's also making the international sign for money, fore finger rubbing on thumb.
Me- "What?" A bit confused they are hassling me when it was Tim riding the wrong way.
Him- Again going through the Corriendo routine.
Me- "What?" half asking, half laughing
Him- Again with "Corriendo!"
Me- "Ummm, no" making a go away motion

We ignore him while trying to figure out hotel details and find id to show the friendly hotel guard.

The pest persists.

Him- "You pay" then he notices my helmet cam...
Him- With eyes wide open, "Is that camera recording?"
Me- big smile, "Si", pointing to the LED on the camera.
Him- Looking deflated, seeing the steak dinner and beer he thought was coming his way tonight rapidly disappearing, he and the other 3 meter maids retreated with tails between their legs, hopping on their 75cc scooters and ride away

After seeing literally thousands of police and soldiers with zero issues, we get hit up by a these 4 wanna be cops
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Old 12-07-2010, 03:33 PM   #62
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Yeah, that's about how to handle them. It's usually a combination of jedi mind trick, there's no problem have a good night, and a good solid straight up shoulders squared stance that will tell them all they need to know.

A friend of mine told me once, that they're like sharks. Sharks rub up against something, see if it runs away or stays and fights. If it runs away, it's prey. Tending to be the latter, will keep your wallet in your pocket.
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Old 12-08-2010, 02:37 AM   #63
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So it appears that the huge police presence is because of the UN Climate Change talk being held at a convention center on the highway we rode down today. It all makes sense now.

On our RTW trip last year we rode through Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, a bunch of Western Europe and into the US before we saw any wild animals and that was in Yosemite National Park where 4 deer crossed the road in front of us. Bizarre I know, but it's true.

Tonight while sitting in the hotel lobby, the only place you can get WiFi in the hotel, a strange critter appeared. At first glance Tim though it was a cat but as it got closer it was obvious that it wasn't. The Coati in the lobby was the first wild beast of this trip. Not much of a beast, in fact super tame and a hotel regular according to the front desk clerk.





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Old 12-09-2010, 04:36 PM   #64
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Hey guys!

The helmet cam is great idea, I am going to put a fake one on my helmet with a small battery and a red led that is always on :)

Did you try to use that trick with the police in Kazakhstan?

Chao

Fred.
No, we had destroyed all our helmet cams by the time we hit Kazakhstan, would have come in handy. That was an expensive country for "tickets".

Choked we won't get to meet up before you leave BA. I'm sure we'll cross paths at some point again.
Safe travels.

Cory
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:40 PM   #65
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We were a bit late waking up yesterday after a good night in Playa Del Carmen that went well into the morning hours.

We had meet Scott (a friend from Calgary) at Senor Frogs. After a few drinks there were wandered the strip and hit 4 or 5 other clubs before finally calling it quits at about 4am.

Tim and I left Playa Del Carmen about 1pm and headed south toward the Belize border. We were about 40km from Chetumal and the border when we saw a sign for an Eco Hotel. It was a pretty cool places with cabins, tent spots and a common area with a kitchen. They rent canoes, sail boats, kayaks and bikes.

We rode down the sloping property to the lower level where we were going to set our tents up. It was dusk, the lagoon was perfectly calm and crystal clear. The board walk went out about 50ft and had a small thatch roof hut at the end. A catamaran sat totally still 100ft from the hut. It was one of those scenes, one of those moments that was as close to perfect as you will ever get.

The Germany couple that run the Eco Camp were doing North, Central and South America by car when they threw a connecting rod and destroyed the block. They had intended to get it fixed and continue on the trip, that was 4 years ago. Their Volkswagen "Thing" still sitting the parking lot, dead. I guess sometimes you end up some places find that is right for you and never leave. We should all be so lucky.









Again our day started a bit later than expected. Tim had a mild allergic reaction to something the night before and had take some Benadryl. At 10:30am, despite the 30C heat Tim still wasn't out of his tent. I started to think he had been strung by a Scorpion or something and wasn't ever going to get up!

We packed our bikes and headed for Chetumal. We had a small list of things we needed to get before heading to Belize. One thing on the to do list was to get Doxycycline which a Malaria preventing medication. We have been trying to get it for weeks and either the pharmacy is out, or has some ultra cheap no name stuff, has some ultra expensive/over priced meds or that particular pharmacy says you need a prescription or... it's just never seemed to come together.

We hit a drug store In Chetumal and were told that, yes, you do need a prescription. There was a doctor's office right next door and visits were a whooping 30pesos or about $2.75 US. We waited in line for about 30 mins before seeing the Doc. We told him where we were going and what we needed. He laughed and told us not to worry about Malaria. Wear long sleeves, pants and DEET in the evening and no problem.

After our shopping list was complete we back tracked the 10km or so to the Belize border turn off. Borders can alway be a clusterF%^k with people coming and going, corrupt customs officials, scam artists, crooked currency exchangers etc. We were prepared for the drama.

We rolled up, had no issues turning in our Mexican tourist cards and getting stamped out of Mexico. Then we hit the vehicle import office to give back our temporary import permits. The official came out with the paperwork in hand, took some photos of the bike vins and gave us a receipt. No hassles at all.

We cross the bridge into Belize and were waved in by an official looking guy. In Belize you require vehicle insurance and we soon realized this dude wasn't a border guard but just a insurance salesman looking to get us to purchase his policy. $12USD a day or $29 a week. $29 a week it was. 10 mins later we had our insurance and headed the km or so to the actual customs office. On the way we stopped to have the bikes fumigated (required but free).

Once at the customs building and had our passports stamped and bikes imported. Total time, about 10mins, total cost $0. Nice change.

Out of Mexico and into Belize in under an hour. Definitely one of the easiest border crossings we've down to date.



Belize is a weird mix of cultures. You have the Latino population, black population (it is on the Caribbean Sea after all), lots of asian people as well. English is the official language. It was bit funny to talk with the Korean store owner who spoke english very well but with a thick Jamaican accent

We have stopped in Orange Walk for the night. We've just hit the 10,000km mark for the trip so some bike maintenance was required. Just a simple oil change was all we were doing. Tim went to pull his skid plate and found a present. Earlier in the day a bird had swooped down across the road. Tim thought he may have hit it but didn't see it so didn't think much of it.

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Old 12-10-2010, 11:05 AM   #66
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Hey guys, just found your RR.... Awesome read... You guys are living the dream... keep it coming.
Really hope to see a DVD or something when your done. Watched the trailer from your last trip.... would really love to see more of this stuff...

Keep the rubber side down and look forward to meeting you guys next riding season here in Cowtown for perhaps a ride...
we had a bit of snow here last night and -15 this AM...
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Old 12-11-2010, 03:44 PM   #67
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We left Orange Walk planning on spending the day on the beach in Belize City. After asking a few locals about safe places to leave the bikes we realized that a hotel right by the beach was not a good idea so we started looking closer to the out skirts of the 70,000 person city.

After checking a couple places, we realized that we were not going to spend the night there after all. Even the run down Best Western was $340 Belize (about $170 USD). I wouldn't have paid $40 for this place at home! I don't have an issue staying in low end hotels, (we've had our share) but I refuse to pay top dollar for it.

We decided that we'd save our money and head inland toward Guatemala and the Tikal Ruins. I had read there are a few really nice hostels (some even have kick-ass tree houses) in the area. So we fuelled up and headed through the city and out on the Western Highway (official name).

After only 50-60 km we came across a sign for Monkey Bay which is a wild animal reserve. The area got it's name centuries ago when British explorers regularly saw dozens of monkeys in the bend of the river which formed a small bay. The reserve has about 10 acres developed for the cabins, camp spots, offices etc. The remainder of the 1100acres has been left untouched.

Earlier in the day we had passed a couple people on peddle bikes. As Tim and I were setting up our tents, the husband and wife rolled into the camp area. Vinko and Colette are running their bikes from Cancun to Panama. Both had lived in a few countries and oddly enough both had recently lived in Calgary (where we started).

After swapping travel stories with Colette and Vinko we were joined by Brittany, the reserves Howler Monkey researcher. Brittany had gone to University in Calgary…what are the odds? Brittany was staying at the reserve in one of the cabin as the village she normally lives in was all but destroyed by Hurricane Richard this Oct. The area we are in was hit quite hard and there is plenty of evidence of this everywhere.

One of the people living next to the reserve was killed when a large tree fell on their pet(?) Jaguar's cage, (no caged animals on the reserve) allowing it to escape and maul it's owner. Yet another reason not to have wild animals as pets.

The next day we headed to the Belize Zoo with Vinko and Colette riding pillion. The zoo is only 5km down the road from Monkey Bay. The hurricane made a real mess of the facility and they are still cleaning up. Despite the destruction, no animals were killed or escaped which is amazing considering the number of enormous trees that were blown down, smashing the cages and pens. A few birds flew away but were quickly recovered.

The Belize Zoo doesn't have any animals that can be released. All the residents have health issues, were once someone's pet or were problem animals that would've been killed if not brought to the zoo. They run a "Problem Jaguar Program" that takes the animals that have attacked people, sleep, dogs, horses etc and attempts to retrain them for eventual release back into the wild. Without this program the cats would have simply been poisoned, trapped or shot.

The zoo is privately owned and operated with no help from the gov't. It's home to many species but only those that are native to Belize. Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Crocs, Jaguars, Puma (Cougar/Mountain Lion), Ocelots, Tapirs, Asps, Boa Constrictors, Rattle Snakes, Parrots, Eagles, wild boars etc. all call the zoo home. One of the Tapir's is named "Bullet Head". This animal was shot by hunters but not killed. The beast was hit in the head and the bullet severed the optical nerve which caused him to go totally blind.

We decided to stay the night again at Monkey Bay. Apparently the local pub is "hot" on Saturday nights…

Pics to follow when we have a quicker connection.

Cory
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Old 12-12-2010, 01:07 PM   #68
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:32 PM   #69
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Wow the adventure and pics get better and better. Big Huevo's on ditching the shake down for money in Mexico....keeping a head cam running is a good trick! Thanks for taking us on your adventure, be safe!

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Old 12-13-2010, 04:05 PM   #70
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After saying our good byes to Vinko, Colette and the staff at Monkey Bay, Tim and I hit the road. Our destination: Barton Creek Outpost, a whooping 64km down the road.

Unable to find a reasonably detailed road map, we were working our very basic GPS mapping. I was online a few times trying to get accurate co-ordinates for the Outpost but according to Google Maps, it was right in the middle of San Igancio which obviously wasn't correct. I scribbled down the crude map that is posted on the Outposts website and off we went.

When the sign for San Igancio appeared I knew we had over shot the road we needed. There was another sign saying "Barton Creek" with an arrow which was basically in the direction we should have been headed in the first place. A few miles down the rough road I thought we should stop and make sure we were on the proper route. I stopped at the first person we met and asked if this was the way to Barton Creek Outpost. He smiled and laughed before saying that we needed to back track about 5 miles back to the highway, then back track down the highway and other 5miles and turn at Georgeville. We thanked him for this time and turned around.

Once back in the city, I thought I'd get a second opinion from a local gas station attendant. Again I explained where we were going and asked how to get there. He pointed down the road we had just come from. I told him of the man down the road and what he had told us. The attendant went on a mini-rant about how he used to be a cave guide and he knew the area like the back of his hand. He looked a bit annoyed when I pulled out the map I had drawn from the website to confirm we were talking about the same place.

We decided to follow the original man's directions which match my map. So off we went down the highway and made the unmarked turn we had previously missed. The pavement quickly ended and the road because loose and rocky. The rutted, washboard track was covered with embedded rock that was just waiting to mangle your rims if you let you concentration lapse for even a second. After several miles we came to a intersection with a large sign for "Barton Creek Archelogical Reserve". This time, it appeared we were indeed on the right trail.

More twisting and winding, ruts and rocks before coming to a creek crossing which was clear and fast so we opted not to wade out to check the depth first but no issues crossing it. After the creek we saw the first sign for the Outpost which was right at the gate. In the parking lot, a new V-Strom with Alberta licence plates and a sticker from a Calgary dealer. More Calgary, this is getting to be funny.

The Outpost is a very, very cool place. There is free camping if you have your own gear, if you don't they will rent you some. You can buy your meals or cook your own if you are prepared. There is a large building on stilts that serves as a kitchen, dining area, library, living room, shower house and bar. There's free WiFi which is either a blessing or a curse depending on how you look at it. The lodge sits on a point in the creek and there is a great swimming hole with a rocky cliff for diving off. Lonely Planet has it listed as a top 5 in Central America and it's not hard to see why.

There were about 20 or 25 people in camp by the time dinner rolled around. It's pretty cool to sit at a huge table with a couple dozen people you have never met before and feel totally at home. Whether on bike, hitching hiking or in car, we all had a ton in common. Travellers all seem to be cut from the same fabric.









The Outpost's dog had recently given birth to 9 of this little guys. Always a source of entertainment!





We had planned on hitting the road in the morning for the Guatemala border but we kept hearing about how amazing the Barton Creek Cave was. The cave was only about 100metres from the Outpost so we decided to do the 2hr guided tour then pack up and go.

We paid our entry fee into of $10 Belize Dollars to the gov't cashier at the mouth of the cave and another $80 Belize to the tour guide. This cave is about 8miles long and the first 5miles are underwater so the tour is done by canoe.

Since there are some very narrow passages in the cave, very small canoes are required. The 110lb guide jumps in the flimsy fiberglass craft that is almost too small to be considered adult size. 220lb Tim next and finally 240lb me...if the canoe could have talked it would have been moaning in agony before cursing like a sailor. The guide did the paddling and narrating, Tim did the pics and I manned the spot light. Once you're 150meters in, it's pitch black.

Tim gets 3 pics going into the cave before swearing under his breath, realizing that he had left the spare camera battery and charger plugged into the wall. No big deal, we can always ask the guide to turn around and I can run back to camp and grab the battery. Then Tim tells me that the battery and charger are stuck in the outlet at Monkey Bay, where we were 2 days ago.... yeah that does warrant some swearing.

The cave is very impressive. The water level varies from 5-135ft and the ceiling is as high as 300ft. The are stalagmites and stalactites everywhere. There are also some "Mayan" artifacts that looked very planted to our eyes. A few pots and human skulls were sitting right on the edge of a ledge and pointed right at the canoe route. Maybe they were legit, we had our doubts.

The tour was interesting although the guides narrative was a bit cheesy. As we were reaching the end of the tour Tim's camera battery had recovered enough to squeeze out a few more pics before powering down again.

Remember how I said the canoe was at it limit with us in it, yeah it broke. My butt was getting numb from the 90mins of sitting on a 2x4 bench so I transferred some weight to my hands which spread the hull enough that the cross brace and seat broke right off. I spend the last 10 mins of the tour hoovering.

Mouth of the Cave:







And the end of the tour.





We figured that finding batteries and a charger for a Canon D40 maybe a bit difficult anywhere but Guatemala City. If we waited until GC then we'd get no pics of Tikal and any other interesting things between here and there. We decided to make the quick trip back to Monkey Bay which was only about 65km from the Outpost. We'd then spent another night here and hit the border tomorrow. Of course this meant riding the horribly rocky, rim destroying road 2 more times today and then on more time to leave tomorrow.

Two hours later, we returned, battery and charger in hand. It's good thing we hadn't made it across the border before realizing they were missing.

Tomorrow Guatemala and Tikal.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:06 PM   #71
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Wow the adventure and pics get better and better. Big Huevo's on ditching the shake down for money in Mexico....keeping a head cam running is a good trick! Thanks for taking us on your adventure, be safe!

Glad you're enjoying it!
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Old 12-14-2010, 12:27 PM   #72
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Still loving it guys. I'll be interested to see your expense stats and tire usage and reports after you get back. any chance it's being tracked?
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Old 12-15-2010, 06:05 PM   #73
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Still loving it guys. I'll be interested to see your expense stats and tire usage and reports after you get back. any chance it's being tracked?
I'll have a rough idea of $$ but not down to dollar. Pretty close to $50 a day so far for food, fuel, hotel, entertainment etc. That doesn't included bike parts or unforeseen stuff. Things in Mexico and Belize are far more expensive than Guatemala. Actually Belize is about 2 or 3 times more than here. It's up and down, some days more, some days less. One of the biggest expenses so far was the toll roads in Mexico. Up to about $80 in a day.

Tires, so far so good. We put the rear K60s on the bikes in LaPaz (about 5500km ago) and they look new still. Tim's TKC 80 front also looks new still. My front D606 and it's about 50% since San Diego (about 8000km ago).

I will try to keep track of mileage for maintenance and let you know.
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Old 12-15-2010, 09:51 PM   #74
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I awoke to the sound of chainsaws at 7am. The volunteers and owers of Barton Creek Outpost were making a new bunk house and they were at it early. There was no way I was going to sleep through the noise so I crawled out of my tent to find Tim was already awake too. Normally we don't get rolling until about 10am so we were well ahead of the game today.

We packed up, settled the tab and were ready to roll when Marie, one of the others staying at the out house asked if we could give her a ride out the road. Since Tim carries so much freeze dried food, his bike definitely had no room. Mine didn't either but Marie is a total sweetheart and packed very light. After some juggling of gear we made room for her and her backpack.

Marie is super cool, fun girl who speaks 3 languages and has been traveling alone through Mexico and Central America for 6 months and will be doing another 2 or 3 months before heading back to France. Tim and I thought we were doing something pretty cool then along comes this 100lb girl who has backpacked and hitch hiked her way all over the world, it's a bit of an ego deflating moment.

The original plan was to give her a ride to San Ignacio, then we we realized that Tikal was on her list as well as ours so we offered to bring her all the way into Guatemala with us. My bike was a bit over loaded on the rough road out of the Outpost with all my junk, her and her gear but it was tolerable. Once we hit the pavement all was good.

We rode up to the Western Belize/Guatemala border and cleared Belize customs in 10mins or so. Guatemala was another story. Everything went well through Immigration and passport control but the wheels fell off at the customs desk. What a gigantic pain in the ass getting the bikes imported. Well, it wasn't getting them imported that was the issue, it was the complete and total lack of organization at the customs desk.

We lined up at one of the 3 desks and waited. Once we were at the front of the "line" it seemed that the customs guy disappeared. We waited in the next line for 20mins and just before we got the front the guys wandered away. It seemed that like most borders we have done, there really is no line and it ends up being he who elbows hardest wins. When in Rome I suppose… we won the elbowing but let the local gang banger with black tear drop tattoos under his left eye cut in. That kind of drama we didn't need!

All in all, about one and half hours to check out of Belize and into Guatemala. Not bad in the grand scheme of things.

Guatemala Border Guard ready to put our decal on his bike:


Once in the Guatemala everywhere we looked there was some guy with a gun. In Belize I didn't see a single gun even at the border. We stopped at the bank and there was a guy that came strolling out with an armed escort. A truck pulled up and the man jumped in as the guards formed a protective circle around him with there shotguns ready. Once the man was inside the truck, one by one the guards literally dove into the truck, until all were in then the truck sped off, weird.

Military everywhere here:


We made good time on the so-so roads to Tikal.

If you are headed to Tikal pay attention to this. When you enter the first gate you are given a piece of paper. On this paper they write down the time that you left the gate. The speed limit is 45kph and the distance is 17km. If you arrive at the the next gate in less time than 22mins and 40 seconds, you were speeding and will likely get a ticket. We were riding way faster but stop for several minutes for some pics and to put on rain gear. We rolled up at 21 minutes and received a dirty look but nothing more.

No too many Jaguar Crossing signs back home:


There is a campground right in the park and it was only 40Q or $5 for the night which is pretty cheap for camping in a World Heritage Site. The best part of the campground was that there were thousands of Dragonflys which meant no Mosquitos! We got eaten alive at Barton Creek. Tim counted 32 bites on his ankles alone from one night despite liberal amounts of Deet. I didn't count but I'm sure I'm close.



The sun went down by 6:30pm and park, it's pubs and restaurants closed at the same time. The campground had no fire pits so rather than sit around in the dark we all went to bed.

The temp dropped to about 5C over night and we all froze. Despite being in bed so early we all woke up tired from lack of sleep due to the cold, our noisy neighbours who I wanted to yell at for being to loud until I remembered it was 8pm and the Howler Monkeys that screeched all night long. I guess I really should complain about being kept up by wild primates in Mayan Ruins.

Up at 7am we wandered in to the park. My gawd this place covers a lot of ground there are over 3000 pyramids and structures. The really cool thing about this place is that unlike other ruins we've seen this trip, these aren't all restored. In fact several of the buildings haven't even been excavated yet. Also the jungle is all around and through the city and even finding the sites can be a challenge. Oh yeah, no vendors either!! We didn't get approached until we were walking out the gates at the end of the day. It was perfect!

We left the site at 4:30pm a full 9 1/2 hours after we got there and we didn't even see everything.

We got back to camp, packed the bikes and rode the 70km to Flores.



















The super steep stairs were more like a ladder. They run up to the top of a pryamid.












Flores at sunset:
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Old 12-16-2010, 08:25 AM   #75
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