Archive for the ‘Petén’ Category

Bicycle Riding in Peten, Machaquila to Naj Tunich

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

I previously showed a gallery of the Naj Tunich cave system. Well, let me tell you the ride to the caves was nothing easy. It was one of the most demanding ones I’ve ever ridden.
The distance is not great, barely 20 miles each way. You ride through remnants of the jungles once covered this province. There is no shade 99.99% of the ride and temperatures did not go below 90f all day. The first mile or so the terrain is not so demanding, and there are a couple of small tiendas were you can stop to get some beverages. After that there is no single soul for about 10 miles until you arrive at Sabaneta, a small village where you can get some more refreshments. After this village, the real challenge begins!
Ride Elevations
Ten miles of steep uphills, riding under 90+ degrees heat with no shade and not one single time during the ride to the caves I saw a single vehicle! The last two miles are to proof ones determination!
Don’t you love cycling!?

Bicycle Riding in Peten

Monday, March 10th, 2014


Here is a small photo gallery of he ride:


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Highway Food

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

Here is a sample of what you can get on the roads to Petén. By chance we stopped at this restaurant on the side of the road; we were so impressed by the breakfast, we had to come back to try more of their food offerings.
Breakfast:

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And for dinner: Pinchos mixtos, camaron, res and cerdo.

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These at Villa Habibi, no more than four kilometers from downtown Poptùn, Petèn, on your right.
Oh, the cheff happenes to be from the state where I lived for 17 years; Massachusetts… what are the odds!?

A piece of Paradise

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Balneario (a swimmming place)Las Pozas is located 5 miles from Dolores, Petèn; on a very car friendly dirt road.
When you arrived at the Balneario, you are greeted by the owner, who is very friendly and courteous.
He got a very beautiful set up; there is beautiful soccer field to entertain guests, showers and well maintained WC, stone grills and some impressive, massive granite table tops. And if you travel during weekdays, you might have the entire place to yourself.
And if you are lucky enough; you might have arrived when earlier a neighbor hunted and killed a Tepesquintle, a very large rodent, and you get invited to have it for lunch.
The river is one of the wonders this beautiful land has to offer,turquoise waters, might feel to cold at first but after you’ve dove into the water you’ll love it.
These waters are great for snorkeling, of course I brought my equipment and dove down to explore the rock formations. You’ll be amzed if you dare doing the same. The water has formed sevaral pools, perfect for swimming and shapped some very impressive crevasses.

Naj Tunich

Thursday, March 6th, 2014

Naj Tunich, house of stones in a local mayan language,  is a cave system 39 kilometers from Poptùn, Petèn.
The cave contains several Mayan burial sites, some of them with elaborate stone constructions. When archaeologist arrived at the cave, all burials sites had been looted. The cave is known to have extensive mayan writing on its walls. Most of the Mayan writing on the cave was damaged beyond restoration around 9 years ago, when someone entered the cave and vandalized the glyphs and drawings with some type of black paint.

Luckily, photographs of the writing and drawings were available, and around seven years ago, a small team of artist created some replicas, now on an exhibit on a separate cave a short 10 minutes walk from Naj Tunich.

Peten

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

There is no rest for Elí. After hiking two volcanoes this past weekend, Elí is en route to the jungles of Peten. I will keep posting as I go. Stay tuned.

Food

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I know, the images are not of the best quality -I’m saving images from my old camera- but I wanted to show you some of the food available in Petén, one of my favorite destinations here in Guatemala. That’s a churrasco, Peten style and the other photo: something unique to Petén, please forgive me; I’ve forgotten the name of the fish, but it is a unique fish to Lake Peten Itza and the Island of Flores is the best place to get it prepared perfectly. Bon Appétit.
Peten Meal
Peten Meal

Snorkeling

Monday, September 16th, 2013

I was just able to rescue my waterproof camera’s photos and these are worth sharing. This is so far my favorite snorkeling trip here in Guatemala. I spent a few days in El Remate, a small town en route to Tikal National Park. This town is lovely, there are some good restaurants in the area, souvenir shops, and my favorite: the town is on the shores of Lago Peten Itza. The Water is clear blue, in fact; the water is so clean, so pure, you might crave drinking it. I grabbed my snorkeling gear and went for a dive. I was trying to find Mayan Artifacts on the bottom and indeed I did! I found couple of pieces of ceramics. There are some interesting rock formation there too, I’ll go back to them soon. While I was snorkeling, a group of local children arrived at the pier and starting jumping off. Chances favor the prepared mind! I had not planned for this, I point my camera at the right moment when a child dove in front of me and I captured the moment perfectly.
While snorkeling, these schools of tiny and curious fish would follow me every where. Lucky them I was not craving sushi.
snorkeling

Of Cattle and Discrimination

Monday, September 9th, 2013

This is a horrible discrimination story I heard while driving with a friend through Izabal, heading to Peten.
We were on Puente Rio Dulce and we saw this cattle transport and we started talking about the cattle business there in Peten. My friend tells me a story of a friend of his who invested in cattle in Peten. He raised the cattle and when it was ready, he hired a transport to take them cattle to the slaughterhouse, where they pay cash for the heads of cattle. He went to the first slaughterhouse and sold almost half of the load. He goes to a second slaughterhouse and sells a few more, goes to a third slaughterhouse and sells the remaining cattle: Except for one!
No body wanted to buy that last one because it was ugly. He went to another slaughterhouse, he lower the price but no one would buy that last head of cattle because it was ugly!
He tried and tried for the rest of the day without success. He had to sell it because he had no place to take the cattle back to and he did not live in Peten permanently.
He failed on finding a buyer, goes to a hardware store and buys a machete and butchers the zebu himself. Starts a fire on the side of the road and has a huge barbecue for everyone around.
Cattle Transport Izabal

Petén, Sayaxché.

Friday, September 6th, 2013

Another quick story of one of my spontaneous trips to Petén.
Aguateca is a Mayan Ruins site on the shores of Petexbatun Lagoon, a 3 hours ride on a rudimentary boat. The site has a very complex history: many invasions by neighboring kingdoms, emergency abandonment of the city by the inhabitants, a couple of planned out abandonments too. Great monuments built on top of smaller ones, etc, etc.
The main access point to the city is by a man-made bridge on the top of a huge crevice that served as a natural defense for the Mayan settlement.
The first time I went to Aguateca was more than eight years ago. There were no other tourists when I arrived. I went out solo exploring. I climb down the crevice and out in the mud you could find dozens and dozens of Mayan artifacts, spearheads, etc.

The beauty of being a retiree.
This time I was not planning on going to Aguateca. I have some distant family members a few miles before the Aguateca site. They lived on the shores, on a small and humble farmers settlement.
I had had no contact with them since last time I went to their place; more than 16 years ago, but I wanted to go see them and bring them some much needed supplies. They were very kind with me and my old man when we visited them. They showed me how to track animals in the jungle, how to fish with rudimentary equipment, make sweets with whats available in the jungle.
I was at Sayaxche -an important town of Peten where the boats leave to Aguateca- trying to find a boat to the settlement where my distant relatives lived. Talking to a lanchero (boat operator) he tells me he can find me a lancha (launch) for around Q500 ($63 US Dollars). Well, I’m a retiree, so I have to bargain and find better prices.
I was being friendly to another lanchero who was heading to Aguateca. He tells me he could give me a ride, he was just waiting for some tourists he was taking to a hotel close to Aguateca. The tourists were supposed to be there at 1pm. We waited and waited. We had to leave soon because it is very difficult to maneuver those launches after dark. It figures! The tourists were very very late. They arrive at the docks around 5:30ish and it was getting dark. The lanchero had no flashlight at all and the tourists seem not to find one neither. To their luck, Eli always carries very good equipment: I produced out of my backpack a very powerful flashlight (the one I use on my night rides on my bicycle). Ha ha, these scenes me close to the lanchero made them think I was the lanchero’s copilot.

We made a quick stop at where my relatives lived and I drop off the supplies and gifts I had brought them and I continue with the launch to the tourists’s hotel, why not, it was dark and they needed my flashlight and I am a retiree, I’ll take a free ride to a beautiful location anytime.
The owner of the hotel was very kind with me. He treated me like family: he gave me a mattress and a full meal. I slept on the launch, next to the operator. Next morning we headed to Aguateca where I helped the tourists not to slip on the mud and clear the path of some obstacles.

The Challenge
We left Aguateca with tourists on board and they drop me off at my relatives settlement and they leave.
I start looking for them. I asked several children if they knew where my relatives where. No positive replies. I walked to a distant house and talked to that family. They tell me my relatives moved out not long ago. They are still living in Peten but on the opposite side of the province! But I have their phone number one of them tells me! Great! I made the call I talked to them, after more than 16 years without seeing or hearing from them.
Well, now I just have to wait for another boat to take me back to Sayaxche. Uh!? There is no other boat until Sunday they tell me. I was not willing to wait four days. I knew there was a way to get to the town walking, I had done it once before eight years ago from Aguateca to Sayaxche. They pointed me to a almost invisible path through the jungle to get to the town.
I started walking carrying all the supplies for my relatives on my back, plus my backpack and camera equipment.
the first few miles were not difficult, I was refreshed and full of energy. I had to cross the river and that side became very difficult. The path was almost unmarked. I continue for a while just trying to guess the course. The terrain was very challenging. It was very muddy and at some point I had to walked with the water reaching my chest. It was at least a mile walking with the water this high. Aha! I found foot prints on the mud! Barefoot prints!!! I followed them prints on the mud. I’m at the point of exhaustion. The mud is very thick! it is like clay mud, it sticks to your boots and makes layers and layers of mud on your soles. You give one step and there is a thick layer of mud on your boot’s sole. You remove that layer and another thicker one sticks! It was miles and miles of this mud. It was getting dark and I was becoming desperate. I see no sing of getting close to civilization. The night caught up with me. Benefit, because I could see the glow of a town in the distance. I took a break, lay down on a patch of green grass I found. Change my cloths, removed the mud off my boots. found something to eat in my backpack and grabbed my flashlights and there I went again.
I was getting close to town, I got to some barbwire fences: For those of you farmers and cowboys: cattle makes some really deep tracks on the mud. I had to cross these huge stables to reach town. There was a thin layer of water on top of the mud, so it seemed it was not deep mud. I started walking on that and my feet would sink me up to my hips. Several times I had to reach deep in my tracks to rescue my boot (s).
Finally I left the stables and got to a partially dried road. Town was near! I got to the town center around 1:30am! I had left Aguateca around 9am, 16 hours earlier.
Finding the address of a friend my relatives had recommended for me to stay the night took me another two hours.

Any of you wants a to go to Aguateca next time?

Oh, by the way: there are photos of my journey through the jungle. If I can find someone with an XD card reader I will share them with you. My Olympus camera died on me and I have no way to read the memory cards.
Aguateca

Peten, Jungle Trekking

Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Getting ready. Leaving Monday at dawn. Don’t expect many photographs. Humidity is very high, heavy rains are certainties, so camera will be deep in my backpack most of the time.
Packing

Destination

Peten

Sunday, August 4th, 2013

This is a personal project I’ve been carrying out every time the opportunity presents its self. Most indigenous Guatemalans are unaware of their ancestor’s (The Maya) achievements in Architecture, Cosmology, Astrology, Math, among many of the triumphs of the Mayan Civilization.
On my trips to the country side, I always bring a portable projector and I show them documentaries (in Spanish) about these themes.
The first time I showed them was in Melchor de Mencos, a bordering town with Belize. At the end of the night, more than 25 children had shown up and they all wanted to see more; I had to show them two documentaries.
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