Belize, 2014 - San Ignacio and Caraco, 28th to 29th January

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Article Index
Belize, 2014
Getting to Hopkins, 24th to 25th Jan
Around Hopkins 26th January
Around Hopkins, 27th January
Around Hopkins, 28th January
San Ignacio and Caraco, 28th to 29th January
Around San Ignacio, 30th January
The Hummingbird Highway and Hopkins, 31st Jan
Big Falls, 1st to 2nd Feb
Big Falls, 3rd Feb
Big Falls and Placencia, 4th Feb
Hopkins and the Coastal Road, 5th Feb
Belize Zoo, 6th Feb
Coastal Highway and Hopkins, 7th Feb
Going Home and Highlights
All Pages

 

San Ignacio and Caracol (28th to 29th January)

Well, the next stop was actually the petrol (gas) station just north of Hopkins on the Hummingbird Highway, where we filled up the bikes with about 120 kms on the clocks. The bikes should be good for 200-300 kms, but we thought we should fill up while we could.

A few hours later we pulled into the Blue Moon cafe outside of Belmopan, and had lunch, before carrying on to San Ignacio. We crossed the bridge into San Ignacio, then stopped to discuss where to go. A couple guys stopped to tell us different places we could try. We kept finding this, people were offering to help us without being asked, and without wanting any payment. It was such a refreshing change after some places we have been. It turned out we were right outside Mana Kai, a 'camp site' with quite nice, simple cabins. We booked a couple for two nights, parked up the bikes, and discussed the day's ride while resting in the hammocks before heading in to town. We ate in town, filled up the bikes with fuel (another 120 kms) and had a few beers and Cokes while planning our trip to Caracol the next day.

We woke up early, and got straight on the road. Apparently the Guatemalan rebels used to cross the border and attack tourists travelling to Caracol, so the army insisted everyone join a single convoy with an army truck leading and another following, to keep everyone safe. Everything we read and everyone we talked to said we had to be at the army base by 9.30 and that it would take two hours to get there, so we set off at 7. The road was quite rough, and Karen really didn't enjoy it, but Nick and Nate rode off ahead, waiting periodically for us to catch up. We got to the base just before 9, where the army chaps said we could carry on or wait for the convoy, so we went on ahead, not wanting to get stuck in a convoy of 4x4s, all kicking up dust and holding us back.

After another couple of hours riding we suddenly came across a really bizarre sight: a partially over grown tarmac road, snaking off through the jungle. Karen was much happier on its smooth surface, and we were soon at the Caracol site, where we stopped for a cup of tea, before investigating the ruins.

The ruins are spectacular, and have been rebuilt, and concreted together, providing a safe, strong surface to climb on. In a way I felt let down by this. I understand that to allow tourists to walk all over the site, it needs to be safe, but it has almost become a theme park. That is a little exaggerated, but it is how I felt. We wondered how rebuilt and replaced the site was, and found at a later site that some of what you were walking on was original, but some was new stones, and some of the carvings were fiberglass replicas, with the originals buried safely away from harm. Still, it is well worth a visit, and made for a great day out.

We were eating our lunch in the rest area about 1.30 when an army truck arrived, and a load of soldiers jumped out and ran off into the bush. The leader told the guides of the other parties that Guatemalan rebels had felled a tree across the road with the intention of stopping tourists on the return journey, so everyone would have to go back in the convoy. It wasn't too much of a let down for us, as we had spent a fair time their already, and we would have to set off not long after the convoy to get back to San Ignacio before dark, anyway. The convoy sounded organised, but wasn't. We set off with a couple of the 4x4s, and soon were riding on our own.

It had been a long, hard day, both in the riding on the dirt road, and in the heat, and when it started raining Karen stopped a 4x4 we passed, and asked for a lift. They were headed to San Ignacio, so we agreed a meeting place, and left her to her air conditioned, dry, comfort. We could pick up the speed a fair bit as their was only one person per bike then, and we got back to San Ignacio quite quickly, having great fun on the way. In case Emma from Alternate Adventures ever reads this, I will only say none of us came off the bikes, even if they didn't always stay 100% on the road. If ridden properly some of those speed bumps can be quite fun.

We filled the bikes up on return to San Ignacio, and found we had done 170 kms of hard riding, plus a few hours exploring. No wonder we were tired!

The place we found for dinner that night, Hode's Place, only a couple of minutes walk from Mana Kai deserves a mention, as does Dora, the waitress who had to put up with us for several meals, but always remained cheerful, giving us as good as she got, and some very good food. There is a sign as you come into the restaurant saying bicycles aren't to be ridden in the dining area, but it doesn't mention motorbikes, although we didn't try it out to see if they were allowed.

Over beers and Cokes in the hammocks back at Mana Kai, we discussed the alleged attempt by the Guatemalan rebels, and were all of the same mind that it was a ploy to get the tourists out early and shut the site down. No one we spoke to had heard of any issues over the past few years, and said any such attempt would have been on the news. Still, it pays to be safe.

 

 



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