PLACENCIA - TIKAL - COPAN - MISKITO COAST
Text and Photos Copyright ©2001 Mark E. Halliday
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 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.
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!
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!
I was curious to take this boat
south to Honduras,
but Rob was waitng for me in Tikal...
from Placencia to Belize City.
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.
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.
We spent two days lounging around the island of Flores.
Cortez passed through here almost 500 years ago.
Colorful building in Flores
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".
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 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.
Fort Sant Barbara
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!
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