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From Belize to Guatemala

14 January 2018  

We join the Saint-Amours as they travel to Guatemala. This week, we share two posts in one.

From October 26, 2017

After nearly 30 days of exploring this small country, we found that leaving Belize was a fairly simple procedure.


The Belize side requires a few fees and stamps upon exit. And try as I might, I could not get the agent to smile, even though we were all speaking English. But entering Guatemala was a little more chaotic. In addition to the language difference, there is the money difference and then the misunderstanding of the steps required. First we drove through the fumigation booth and paid the fee. Then we were directed to park on the side of the busy street in front of the border offices. We got our passports stamped, then started the paperwork for the truck. This required a few copies a fee, verifying the VIN and plenty of being trailed by a 12-year-old border "helper". The final step was the pet import, which was a little more paperwork, some fees and a visual look at the dogs. The entire process took about two hours in sweltering heat and humidity. But in hindsight, it all went smoothly and people were kind and patient with us.

We stopped in the first small town and purchased a SIM card for the telephone. Inserting a new SIM card in an unlocked cell phone gives us a new phone number as well as data service. Essentially our phone now operates just as it did in the USA, but with a Guatemala phone number. This is great for using the internet as well as navigating through the villages and roadways of Guatemala. When we find free WiFi connections we always connect, to save our data. But the costs of cellular phone data is cheaper here than in the USA. If you are interested in reaching us you can contact us through this website, our Facebook page Click here to open our Facebook page , our Instagram page Click here to open Instagram or even What'sApp (contact me for number).

Our next stop was at a lakeside campsite in El Remate. This spot included beautiful sunsets over Lake Peten in a garden like setting.

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Zeb was a cooperative model for the beautiful flowers falling from a nearby tree.

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This small town is the gateway to Tikal Ruins. It has some excellent little tipico restaurants, and street food. If you ever go there, please eat at El Arbol. It was during her morning walk in this town that Mango discovered a deep curiosity about pigs. She was very interested in the family of porkers that wandered the streets of El Remate.

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At one of the local restaurants we were entertained by these two friends while we waited for our food order to arrive. They made a very cute pair, indeed.

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This has been our introduction to Guatemala. It is wonderful blend of Ladino culture at a slow, easy pace. The weather is comfortable and the prices are reasonable. Follow along as we continue to explore Guatemala.

Lake peten sunsets.jpg

From October 29, 2017

Guatemala - Tikal

El Remate was the gateway village to visit the ruins of Tikal. This Mayan architecture is notable for its size and some unique building features. The most visible unique feature is the stone "crest" on the top of the main temples. Some of the temples at Tikal have been featured in many photos and even movies. One of the images below may be recognizable from Star Wars. Tikal covers a huge area and recent discoveries suggest that it may connect to other ruins in this region, making it even larger than presently imagined.

We spent four hours hiking around the grounds of Tikal. We saw the largest structures. We climbed to the top of the tallest structures. We explored the jungle with a guide well-versed in birdwatching. We spotted some elusive toucans and many other birds. Within those four hours it was hot, it was chilly, it was sunny and it was rainy. Although we thought we were "ruined-out" from Mexico, we are very glad we took the time to see Tikal and explore it with a quality guide.

Featured here is the collection of photos taken during our exploration of Tikal. There are also a couple of movies (in case you need to wait for them to load) showing the amazing, lush jungle view and the crests of temples rising towards the sky.

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small temple.JPG

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Those two photos show an orange, insect-like, jungle flower struggling for survival amid the lush growth.

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Trucks abandoned by the archaeological team that began the restoration work on Tikal.

These three photos show some current restoration and preservation work. Hundreds of temples, stellae, buildings and unknown structures remain as victims of the jungle growth. The structures remain covered in trees, vines, dirt and moss.

temple.jpg view from top.JPG

peeking out.JPG

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star wars view.JPG

I am not sure we will visit a lot of other ruins, but we are really glad that we took the time to explore these. Tikal is a magical location in the middle of the beautiful, Northern jungles of Guatemala. Next we will head for the central highlands, known as the Alta Verapaz Region.

Meet the Saint Amours.

Mike and Geneva Saint Amour spent several years in Prescott - Geneva was the first Director of Northpoint Expeditionary Learning Academy; Mike worked with Tim Carter in the County Superintendent’s office. After spending their careers in education, they decided it was time to travel. So, in October 2014, they packed up their 3 dogs into their VW van, dubbed Alta, and departed from Arizona with plans to travel indefinitely. 

This column is about their adventures on the road. A few things have changed since their initial nomadic launch. They now drive The Beast - a GMC 2500HD 4x4 truck with a mounted, customized Northstar Arrow 8.5 camper. Unfortunately, two of their dogs have passed away. Only Zeb, their “director of security” remains. He is generally found sleeping on the job.Their current path has them traveling south. They’ve gone through Mexico, and we’re going to pick up their trail in Belize. That’s backtracking a bit, but we’ll work hard to get you caught up. Expect at least two columns a week for a while as we fast forward from Belize to Guatamala. Find out more on their blog: