It was within minutes on our second day with Silke that I saw what appeared to be a group of… more cyclists?! ahead of us on the side of the road.  Yup.  We rolled up on 3 others, making it a giddy group of 6 standing on the side of the highway, straddling our bikes and swapping stories.  Evan and Sarah, from Alaska, had flown into Cancun about a week earlier and had been zig zagging down the coast heading for Belize.  The other rider was a man from Poland, heading north from Tierra del Fuego towards Alaska.  We shared hugs, high fives and took some photos, before the 5 of us heading south continued on together.

As much as the highway was pretty flat and boring, it was great to have such a nice group to travel with.  For the rest of the day, we took turns riding with each other and getting caught up on ideas of where we wanted to head and how long we might be able to travel in each others’ company, not to mention loads of stories about our past lives and life thoughts.

The five of us spent the next few days together, each one better than the last.  As much as Kurt and I have a good thing going, traveling day in and day out together, problem solving and making all decisions with only the two of us to consider, the opportunity and experience of traveling with others was/is really a highlight. We look forward to being able to do this a bunch along our journey.

And yes… after all this time in Mexico, we did eventually cross the border into Belize one beautiful, sunny morning by way of the Corozal crossing.  The instant changes were apparent… English was spoken, dollars (Belize) were once again used, miles (instead of kilometers) were printed on signs.  To communicate again! After our months in Mexico, our spanish has certainly improved, but is nowhere near conversational status (aside for answering the usual questions).  To be in Belize and able to converse and joke around was an incredible feeling.  We immediately made friends and were offered a place down the road to camp.  We spent our first afternoon traversing a dirt road heading out east, our destination of the small fishing village of Sarteneja but two days away.

The group converges on the highway side...

It wasn't long before the five of us stopped for a snack and ran into another man just finishing a loop around the Yucatan. Here my Bridgestone got to meet his nice Bridgestone and we all oogled at the gear he rode with, with him having collected it over a long lifetime spent bike touring...

So close. After having spent a full 6 months in Mexico, our impending border crossing was especially exciting...

And just like that, we entered the English speaking country of Belize...

...where signs were easily read and many business were Chinese owned...

The crossing was relatively simple and painless. There is a $20 exit tax for Mexico and a stamp (free) you must get from Belize, but other than that, not much. Knowing the price of fruits and vegetables were about to go up, I regretted not filling my panniers before heading across the border (in my case, they did not check my bags)...

Hurray for human power! A hand cranked water crossing as we head down one of the back roads toward Sarteneja...

Also along the way, we spotted this once in a lifetime viewing...

Ahhhh. This picture still gets me every time. So the moral of the story... never bite off more than you can chew. This python thought this full coati (thanks Josh! you had it correct.) dinner was a good idea. His mid section thought otherwise. This photo shows his belly, where he split in half as the farmers dragged his body from the field...

Just after crossing the border, we were graciously told where we could all camp for free down the road. We were able to set up on a secluded inlet front, stretching out with our hammocks and tents. We enjoyed both evening and morning fires, and I a chilly morning dip in the shallow inlet waters of Laguna Seca...

Silke and her layout. As a solo female traveler, she immediately gains my respect. She travels with not only four fully loaded panniers, but also a mountaineering backpack strapped over her back rack, containing mountaineering boots and the like. Silke is working on climbing some very high peaks on her way down to Tierra del Fuego. She has already completed the summit of Pico de Orizaba (and she's a grandma!!)...

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Las Guacamayas…

December 27, 2010

Another stop along the border loop brings us to the ecological reserve of Las Guacamayas.  During the 1960’s a group of about 40 families relocated to the area after having been granted land by the government (a touchy subject with the indigenous locals).  They were also given pairs of mating Red Scarlet Macaws and have since been breeding and protecting the rare and beautiful birds.

 

Most of our extended loop was ridden on the Fronterra Corozal Highway, brushing the edges of Guatemala. Here we encountered more military check points than we have anywhere else in Mexico. The soldiers tried to be serious as they asked to open our bags, but you could tell they were just as curious as any other local. I'd often hit them up for drinking or cooking water if their camps had any to spare, which they were always happy to give...

Strong roots, looking very missile-like...

I think about writing odes to the jungle when we are exploring, I love them that much...

A bit of filtered light, while the branches shake from jumping howler monkeys, who were too quick for me to catch a good photo of. Instead I got this monkey to hold still for a bit...

The majestic Red Scarlet Macaw...

Unfortunately, despite several trips down to the river's edge and peering all over the surrounding land, the only ones we actually got to see were in these cages. Macaws will find their mates within the first 2 years and spend the rest of their bird lives being faithful to only them...

There is no organized camping at Las Guacamayas, which worked out great for us, and we were invited to camp in the big open soccer field, lending its hand to a spectacular open view of the sunset...

Then it was back on the road, heading towards Bonampak and the Yucatan. The locals around here have been successful in keeping the Pemex gas monopoly out, so the area sees a lot less traffic than it would normally. People who do venture into this area must purchase gasoline from the local tiendas for a very high price. Luckily, as cyclists, we can only be happy to the fact this keeps more motorists off these excellent roads..