September 06, 2006
Getting to Belize
We opted to take several flights rather than make every journey an overland one, mainly due to shortage of time and wanting to hit both Belize and Guatemala in one trip. So, it was off to Belize City on Maya Air, a local airline where the majority of its puddle jumper aircraft sat no more than 12.
It is always refreshing to be reminded that we cannot and must not take anything for granted. A wonderful example of this is seeing the innocent eyes and excitement of a child or friend who sees a bird for the first time or embarks on their first plane ride.
Ray had never been in a small prop plane before and the fact that it was a commercial flight, added to his delight. His eyes darted from left to right, as he wore the widest smile since we left San Francisco, a smile which lasted for several hours after we landed in Belize……..frankly, a godsend after the angst we experienced in Flores before we left.
Security was awkward and tense, stricter than LAX, and reasons were not well explained. While the London events of a few weeks ago have affected the movement of every traveler, security differs substantially depending on location.
Strange to think of a small Guatemalan town in the middle of the jungle as high risk, yet Flores must have received the Washington memo in bold letters. Like other airport signs around the country and world, the ‘new’ allowances were listed as you entered the check-in point, and included the familiar liquid substances like toothpaste, shampoos and lotions.
As I pulled out my ticket, two batteries popped out on the Mayan Air counter. When the only gate agent who spoke marginal English informed me that batteries were not allowed, it started to go downhill and didn’t end until there was nothing in my knapsack bag but a travel pillow, three books, my sunglasses and Gortex jacket.
Not allowed according to these Maya Air agents was a mish mash of items which held very little logic in this small village, only minutes away from a one run-way airstrip.
I was informed that nearly everything would be confiscated if I did not transfer them, including my Nano iPod, cameras, metal barrettes, a spoon, binoculars, batteries, films, and all of my pens. I value the caution but not the absurdity.
Their system was so sensitive that it picked up my beaded necklace with a microscopic sized metal clasp. One would think that LAX and NY’s system might up their sensitivity monitors under the current conditions, but perhaps they didn’t receive the same Washington memo.
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Tikal was the capital of a conquest state that became one of the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya. Though monumental architecture at the site dates back as far as the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca. 200 to 900 AD. During this time, the city dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily, while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica such as the great metropolis of Teotihuacan in the distant Valley of Mexico.
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