May The Force Be With You, Mr Tickle

February 9th, 2010

Day 22. Another day, another country, with a pre 6am start. We reached the border with Guatemala and walked the 50 metres of No Man’s Land to meet Hugo, our new driver. No Man’s Land is inhabited by hoards of money changers eager to give you a outrageous exchange rate for your spare Belizean Dollars.

Factoid: The Guatemalan currency is called the Quetzal, which is named after the national bird, a tiny creature with unfeasibly long green tail feathers. Quetzals were shamelessly slaughtered in their thousands to make Moctezuma’s famous head-dress as worn by Safe in the Anthropological Museum in Mexico City. The Guatemalan Quetzal is affectionately and childishly known as the Guatemalan Pretzel … by us alone!

Our bags were loaded onto the roof of our van after which some dodgy character smiled at us as he took pictures of the bags with his mobile phone. Evil stares from us just encouraged him to take more pictures and smile even more. We presume he was trying to find the highest price for our belongings at the standard tourist ambush spot down the road. Thankfully, we’ve not been ambushed yet. Perhaps he has yet to be offered enough pretzels.

The pile of old rocks at Tikal was our next port of call. Our guide for the day was Miguel Antonio Marin Constanza (you’re nobody if you have less than four names in Central America). After about an hour, we managed to stop giggling and tickling each other every time he said the word “Tikal”, and it turned out he was an ornithologist / monkey caller / all-round animal enthusiast. We saw where the Ewoks used to live.  Return of the Jedi was filmed here (the scenes in the jungle rather than on the Death Star … recognise it?).

Ewoks live here

Then Migual got over-excited and made us stalk every little rustle in the bushes.  The animal shots look stolen, but we did take them … we used a particularly long zoom for the crocodile …

Some jungle creatures of Guatemala

Some more jungle creatures of Guatemala

We learnt several interesting factoids from our guide:

Factoid: According to the Mayan calendar, on 21st December 2012 (Lizzy’s Birthday) we will be entering “The 6th Cycle of the Sun” a galactic event that occurs every 5,125 years.  There have have been predictions of huge changes in global climate and even the end of the world.  These predictions inspired the film “2012″ which we’re told is complete rubbish and not to be watched.

Factoid: It is believed that indigenous Meso-Americans came from the Far East via a land bridge over the Bering Strait around the time of the last ice age around 13,000 BC.  They share a genetically common heritage and are phenotypically similar to Far Easter populations.  They also share the “Mongolian Spot“.

As if we hadn’t travelled enough today, we took an hour’s journey to the star-island Flores where we ate freshly caught lake fish in the monsoon rain.

Flores

By the way, here’s another animal we saw at Tikal, this time a moth climbing up a tree.  We really liked the picture so here it is:

Moth

2 Responses to “May The Force Be With You, Mr Tickle”

  1. Frankie says:

    Relax

  2. Aseema says:

    I’m loving it! it’s like watching a soap or reading a great book! can’t wait for the next installment

    ps got your postcard/birthday card – thank you xx

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