Flores, Guatemala to San Ignacio, Belize
Feb 9, 2009
|We stayed and extra day in Flores yesterday to get caught up on our journal, do a little shopping and just take it easy. By the end of the day the wanderlust bug had hit us again and we were looking forward to getting back on the road.
It was not as overcast as it had been when we left Flores and in fact the sun was shining through in places. After several attempts at getting a some cash we headed towards the Guatemala/Belize border. (Guatemala is the only place we have had trouble at bank machines and there is no pattern. Our card works at some machines and not at others, even though they look the same and are from the same bank)
The road from Flores to the turnoff to Tikal is paved but has many potholes and patches. With the motorcycle you can avoid most but not all. They are sometimes very hard to see as you approach so you have to keep your speed down.
From the Tikal turnoff to the Belize border the road is just awful. Not tough; just really annoying. It is paved for about half of it but the potholes and patched areas are really bad. There are some sections that are just clay and pretty rutted. The annoying part is that there are smooth sections that are just long enough to tempt you to pick up the pace just before you have to slam on the brakes to avoid disappearing into some hole.
The second half of the road is “under construction” although we did not see any machinery or work being done and it looks like it has been some time since anything has actually been worked on.
The surface is white clay which is hard packed but full of small imbedded stones. The white surface makes holes or large stones nearly indistinguishable from the smooth bits so once again, prudent speed is demanded. We were thankful that it didn’t rain while we were on this section because it would have been very messy and likely pretty slick to ride on as well.
At the border things went really smooth. On the Guatemalan side they quickly and efficiently stamped our passports out and cancelled the bike permit. The only fee was $20 Questzales (about $3.00 each) for immigration exit.
At the Belize side we went through fumigation and paid the $3.00 fee. There were no other charges although there will be an exit fee. Once again they handled the passport stamps and bike permit quickly and efficiently.
The last stop was the insurance office where we bought one week of liability insurance for about $14.00 USD. The whole procedure from arrival at the border to obtaining the insurance was maybe 20 minutes.
One thing that was difficult to get used to at first was the fact that the Belize officials all speak English. Belize is primarily English speaking. After 4 months in Spanish speaking countries this will be a treat.
Outside the insurance office we were just getting ready to leave when Janine noticed a drip from the bike. I looked down and immediately saw what it was.
THE WATER PUMP SEAL WAS FAILING AGAIN! This is the same part that was replaced in Salt Lake City and again in Guadalajara, Mexico under warranty. What the #@*%!
We were about 20 km from San Ignacio, our planned stop for tonight, so we headed there. About 10 minutes later it began to rain pretty hard. We pulled over at a bus shelter to wait it out.
This was a bit of a low point for the day; sitting in a bus shelter waiting for the rain to stop, looking at the motorcycle and wondering how long the seal would last. Things got a lot better from here.
The rain stopped after a short time and the sky began to clear. We rode into San Ignacio and quickly found the hotel that a fellow motorcycle traveler had recommended. We got our own little cabin in a nice back yard with a tropical garden and a porch. It is very clean and with a large shower and hot water. (Tropicool, BZ$56 about $28.00 USD).
We then went to Hodie’s Place for lunch. Hodie’s place was a small restaurant on the edge of town when we were here 9 years ago. It is set on the edge of an orange grove and the rice & beans were just amazing back then.
The only thing that has changed is that Hodie’s is no longer a little place. It is now very large with outdoor patios that could likely seat 100 or more. The food is still great and the setting is still wonderful.
The water pump drip was no worse when we arrived. I expect it may just drip for some time before failing completely. There is a shop in Cancun that can do the work (although they do not have a good reputation as far as being reasonable).
Since we are meeting my brother Michael and sister in-law Patricia in Cancun next week I called Calgary and ordered a pump repair kit. Michael will bring the parts to Cancun and with any luck we can get the bike to Cancun under its own steam (pun intended) as it is only about 600 km or so.
So far Belize is just as we remembered it; very comfortable and laid back. We finished the day having dinner with a Belizian couple that invited us to sit at their table. The fellow was a TV producer who specializes in tourism programs and videos. His wife is Belizian while he is originally from the US. It was a very entertaining dinner, especially since it was all in English so we could fully participate.
The water pump may change some of our plans for Belize. We will see what tomorrow brings. Tonight we are pretty relaxed. Belize kind of caqlms you no matter what is going on.