Disco Stu's vehicle sits next
to the beach at the Hotel Maya, eagerly awaiting
the day's adventures.
Another morning and another dead battery.
This time the fridge was turned down to a much lower
setting and theoretically it shouldn't have drained
the battery completely. A quick measurement and
it turned out Camel's alternator is only putting
out about 25 amps, about a third of what it should
be producing. Its not a big enough issue that it'll
be a problem, we'll just have to keep an eye on
the battery power from here on out.
through the sugar cane fields of northern
Belize to the Mayan ruins of Noh Mul.
D90 and Camel, parked in the jungle near Noh
in the jungles of Orange Walk, Belize.
Today was Camel's turn to lead again.
We headed out of Corozal and on to the first Mayan
ruin of the day, a largely unexcavated site called
Noh Mul just outside of Orange Walk. Getting to
this site was fun as it was located out in some
sugar cane fields. We turned off the highway, drove
through the farm lands and there it was: a set of
dirt and foliage covered ruins that was at one time
a Mayan city. This site was interesting because
of it's natural un excavated state. The temples
looked like giant mounds or hills with the occassional
bit of limestone carving or stairway jutting out.
We climbed to the top of the largest temple and
had a look around. We hiked around the temple and
found an entance to a tomb Sam had mentioned he
saw at his last visit. It had already been well
visited and raided long before we got there.
(Left to Right)
Nathan, Craig Reece, Patrick Scranton and
Lucie Zastreskova pose in front of an entrance
to the Noh Mul tombs.
and Lucie on top of Noh Mul.
We all descended the hill to our vehicles
only to discover that like the tomb above, Sam's
vehicle had been looted. Evidently someone opened
his door, cut a bag free and ran off with it. Luckily,
the only thing in the bag was a remote control for
his winch, but it was still something of an annoyance.
Of course, who ever took the bag likely opened it
up, found nothing of value to them and tossed the
remote control into the sugar cane fields. The lesson
to be learned: No matter how remote the stopping
point, lock your car.
rounds the edge of a sugar cane field; the
hill in the background is part of the Noh
Back on the road we gassed up in Orange Walk. After
a weeks worth of Pemex, it was nice to have the
option of different brands of gasoline to choose
from. Back in Mexico the government owns all of
the gas stations, so choices were non-existant.
Here in Belize we had all the familar brands from
back home: Shell, Texaco, Exxon, albiet with much
higher prices than back home ($BZ 5.50 per gallon,
$2.75 US) (Note: at the time of the expedition,
gas prices in the US were a modest $1.50-75/gallon).
Out of Orange walk, we drove down to Belize City
for lunch and to pick up Stuart's wife who had flown
into Belize. Once in town, we split up for about
an hour and a half with everyone attending to various
errands. We all met back up at the Swing Bridge,
a famous (but very small) bridge in the middle of
town spanning what was one of the most polluted
rivers we've ever seen. Nonetheless, the river was
full of boats and fisherman anchored in. Rather
than throwing down an actual anchor, they would
stick a long pole into the murky depths of the water
which was tethered to their boat, and that was it,
they were anchored.
An ex-MOD 24v
110 parked outside of SeaSports Belize (note
the Camel Trophy surplus wheels)
Craig, Sam and
Patrick's Defender 90s parked outside the
Belize City Post Office.
with Craig Reece: "You know, a younger
guy wouldn't have problems with blisters."
Just down the street from the swing bridge we found
a 110 parked outside of a dive shop. We went in
to inquire about it and found out that the owners
were big Land Rover enthusiasts who owned a second
110 kitted out for serious 4-wheeling duty. The
owner suggested some fun places to explore in the
jungle and we did a shirt exchange, we traded a
La Ruta Maya shirt for one of their dive shop shirts.
Aside from the nice people, Belize City is some
place I could go without visiting again. Run down
and dirty, it serves primarily as a changeover point
for travelers going through Belize. However, just
before leaving town we did spot two diesel Freelanders...
crosses a one way bridge in San Ignacio. Notice
the rare Stage 1 V8 Land Rover behind him.
Once out of Belize City, we headed
West to the Guatemalan border. We needed to make
good time and get to the Jungle Lodge in Tikal by
nightfall. Traveling after dark is supposedly dangerous
on Guatemalan roads. The border crossing was rather
uneventful but expensive- there was an abundance
of entry fees, exit fees, vehicle fees, environmental
fees, etc. It seemed as though you name it, they
charged us for it. There was also a sign in the
Guatemalan customs office with a list of "banned"
items for importation. Among those items was everything
from meat to soap to t-shirts to gasoline. According
to the customs rules, it seems, we should cross
the border wearing nothing but our underwear. Fortunately,
they choose not to enforce any of these rules and
we crossed into Guatemala without so much as the
pretense of a search.
A Defender 110
Ambulance that was parked at the Belize/Guatemala
Upon crossing into Guatemala, we roads
went degraded in quality significantly. They went
from being old bumpy paved roads in Belize to washboard/hardpack
limestone roads in Guatemala. A few miles into Guatemala
we saw a broken down truck with over a dozen people
packed into it. Sam and a few of the other vehicles
stopped to see if they needed help. Meanwhile the
others continued a little bit further down the road.
Camel was making an awful rattling sound in the
back like something was loose on the rear axle.
For fear of snapping the bolts on the halfshaft,
I took off the rear wheel and pulled out the driver
side half shaft. Finding nothing out of the ordinary,
we put it all back together and were back on the
road. Lo and behold, the noise was gone. The noise
was likely caused by some loose bolts on either
the half shaft or the wheel.
Pulling the half-shafts on the Camel in the
middle of Guatemala.
Just as we were getting everything
together, the police stopped and advised us that
we should get moving again. They said that the roads
were unsafe to travel on after dark. The police
were heading a few miles back to the border, and
then were going to send an police escort to catch
up to us on the way. With that we decided to kick
it in to high gear as we only had a half hour of
daylight left. With Sam in the lead calling out
obstacles, and everyone running all their lights,
we hauled butt and the police escort never caught
up with us.
An hour later, we pulled into the
entrance to Tikal National Park, a drive we had
heard would take upwards of two hours. Once into
the park Sam, the lead vehicle, radioed that a Jaguar
ran across the road right in front of him, a rare
and unusual sighting indeed. But the stealthy animal
was only briefly spotted by a few of the front vehicles
before it disappeared into the shadows of the jungle.
Ten minutes later, we were checking in to our rooms
at the Jungle Lodge, an eco-lodge built beneath
the jungle canopy next to the trail leading to the
Tommorrow we visit the famous Mayan
ruins of Tikal.