CENTRAL AMERICA

PLACENCIA - TIKAL - COPAN - MISKITO COAST

(Belize-Guatemala-Honduras)

NOVEMBER 1999

 

Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday

 

 

PLACENCIA, BELIZE

 

I started a three-week trip through Central America.

A flight on Continental through Houston took me to Belize City.

 

Flight from Belize City to Placencia,

on the southern coast of Belize.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Placencia Beach

 

 

 

 

 

 

Placencia is growing quickly,

adding new homes and tourist facilities.

Ready for the tourist invasion.

 

 

 

 

 

I took the "Monkey River" ($60) day trip.

 

 

 

 

We passed the small town of Monkey River

at the river mouth.

 

 

 

The boat goes up the Monkey River for about an hour, then passengers go for a guided walk in the jungle.

 

 

 

 

 

Big Bamboo

 

 

 

 

I heard and saw howler monkeys

the first time in my life.

 

 

I was unable to book

the "Preserved Jaguar"

tour this sign advertised.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Painted Signs on the buildings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garifuna Settlement Day!

with drumming and dancing on the beach!

 

Laura Garcia

and her vet friend from Calgary.

We went from Placencia

to the next town north by boat.

It was a completely moonless night,

the stars were brilliant,

riding a fast boat in the dark!

 

 

 

Garifuna disco.

 

 

Gulf Cruza

 

I was curious to take this boat

south to Honduras,

but Rob was waitng for me in Tikal...

 

 

 

 

 

Cessna Caravan

from Placencia to Belize City.

 

 

 

 

 

4-seat Cessna

from Belize City to Flores, Guatemala

 

 

 

 

 

 

TIKAL and FLORES, GUATEMALA

 

At the Flores airport, I bought some Quetzales, and took a collectivo taxi to Tikal.

 

Guatemala 1/2 Quetzal note

with engraving of Tikal

 

As I came into Tikal

Rob Edson was walking along the road.

This was my first visit,

but the 3rd for Rob the Ti-k'al-meister!

 

Maya Glyph for Tikal

 

We stayed at one of the hotels inside the archeological site.

They even had budget $20 rooms,

originally built for archeologists.

 

Grand Plaza

 

 

 

Temple

 

 

 

 

 

A scientific highlight:

Rob made GPS measurements of the Grand Plaza,

confirming recent theories that Tikal and Angkor Wat

have the same geographic coordinates!

 

 

 

 

Temples rise out of the jungle.

 

 

 

 

Secret passageway

 

 

 

 

 

We spent two days lounging around the island of Flores.

Cortez passed through here almost 500 years ago.

 

 

 

 

Colorful building in Flores

 

 

 

Flores sunset

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rob flew back to Belize,

and met his girlfriend for Thanksgiving.

I caught a flight from Flores

to Guatemala City airport.

Small buses meet flights at Guatemala City airport,

and go directly to Antigua.

 

Cathedral in Antigua, Guatemala

 

 

It was fun to spend two nights in Antigua,

although my Thanksgiving was "sin pavo".

 

 

 

 

 

 

COPAN, HONDURAS

 

Tourist facilities along the "Ruta Maya" are much improved from a few years ago.

The trip to Copan from Antigua used to be a multi-bus ordeal.

Now nonstop minibuses leave Antigua early each morning,

and arive at the border crossing before midday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The border crossing

from Guatemala into Copan, Honduras

 

 

 

 

Maccaws guard the entrance to Copan archeological site.

Pay your $10 or take your chances.

 

 

 

 

Copan view

 

 

 

 

 

Copan is most famous

for the number and quality of Stellae

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dramatic new museum is amazing.

In the center courtyard is a full scale reproduction

of the brightly-painted temple

recently discovered at the core of a larger temple.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LA CEIBA - UTILA - TRUJILLO, HONDURAS

 

I took the "chicken bus" from Copan to San Pedro Sula, and stayed overnight.

A morning bus in the rain took me to La Ceiba on the north coast of Honduras.

 

From La Ceiba,

it is easy to catch this ferry

to Utila or Roatan in the Bay Islands.

 

 

 

 

 

Utila is a bargain spot for scuba training and certification!

 

However, the weather was bad for the one dive I attempted.

Everyone was cold and the visibility not so great.

 

I went back to La Ceiba after two nights on Utila.

 

 

 

 

From La Ceiba I took another "chicken bus"

east to the end of the road at Trujillo.

The road just opened up a few weeks before,

it had been closed for much of the last year since Hurricane Mitch.

 

Trujillo beaches.

 

 

 

 

Fort Sant Barbara

Trujillo

 

 

 

 

 

Fort Santa Barbara

where William Walker was shot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

William Walkers grave

in Trujillo Cemetery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PALACIOS, MISKITO COAST, HONDURAS

 

After two nights in Trujillo,

I take a plane to Palacios,

on the Miskito Coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LET-410 ex-Czech military aircraft.

Palacios life revolves around the airstrip.

Every morning there is a airplane convention

as small planes converge from many directions.

The entire village comes out for the show!

 

 

 

Children at the airstrip grab my bags and run to the only hotel.

 

 

 

 

Orange Peeling machine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Jorge Salavierri, a tour guide based in La Ceiba.

He is taking this group out to Brus Laguna

and beyond into the Rio Platano Biosphere Preserve.

The airline lost much of the his group gear; he was in a panic without tents or food for the trip.

He went upstream with the group, then came back alone in the afternoon.

The missing gear had just arrived on a special flight.

 

 

 

 

 

I hired this boat for a day trip to Brus Lagoon.

Powered by a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine,

it took over an hour to start on the return leg!

 

On the return, we returned to Palacios via the open ocean,

which was very exciting in this tiny boat!

 

 

 

 

Butterfly Farm

A Peace Corps project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

House in Raisti Village

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another Peace Corps Project

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Cuban doctor, on assignment in Palacios,

was happy to talk with me about Havana.

Although it was valuable experience to see diseases,

like Malaria, not present in Cuba,

he was very unhappy to be so isolated.

He asked me to take some letters to his family,

and I posted them in Belize City.

 

 

 

 

On the bus from Trujillo back to La Ceiba,

these school children talked to me.

 

 

 

 

 

6 AM Islena flight

La Ceiba to Belize City via Roatan Island

 

Pico Bonito in the background

 

 

 

 

Rising Sun finds a hole in the clouds

as we approach Roatan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday