Coffee never tastes as good as it does in the forest or jungle, probably because of all the insects and stuff that fall into the pot when brewing. The tree that had stopped us the night before was gone in less than 15 minutes, and we were again ready for the road to Uaxactun. Then something funny happened. There was a weak sound of an engine growing stronger and stronger, and we all stopped doing what we were doing and waited for what was to come. Out of the jungle came a local guy on a motor bike and I would definitely say that was the most surprised look on a face I ever saw. But after a few seconds of mild shock he gave us a big smile, and when we explained what we were doing there and asked if we were on the right way he just started laughing and laughing. Eventually we got around to ask what he was up to in the middle of the jungle, and he explained that he was cutting certain kind of leafs that was exported to Canada for use in flower decorations. No wonder so many of the locals down here think of North America as a strange and exotic place….
After some small talk he hid his bike in some bushes and disappeared into the jungle, and we got back into our vehicles and started towards Uaxactun. The flower decoration guy told us it was still about 15 kilometers to go, and that there was another huge tree in the road that we couldn’t get past. We, of course, wanted to “take a look”…
And there it was. Definitely a bit of work without a chainsaw, which we didn’t have. And this tree had a nasty twist and tension on it that added a little bit of excitement to the cutting.
In the end we had cut all the branches but one, and that one wouldn’t let go without a fight. Even if the trunk was cut all the way through, the weight of the upper part of the tree was so heavy that we couldn’t haul it away using a strap attached to the Land Rover. We set up the pulley again to change the direction of the pull and used the winch. After almost two hours the road was cleared enough to get through.
The last section was more or less brush and lianas, and we didn’t have many problems negotiating our way through these. However, a liana must have missed our attention, as Judith and Christof got some damages to their roof top tent mounted on the front of their roof rack. 10 kilometers later we saw the first signs of car tracks, a few buildings, and then a road sign saying “Rio Azul”!?! (this could be the “back road” up to El Mirador…), before ending up on the airstrip in Uaxactun! We were through!
After the high fives and an ice cream, we drove over to the Uaxactun ruins for a look, and these were really amazing. Hardly any restoration, but they are remarkably well preserved. In here were also a couple of buildings that were quite different from any other sites we have seen so far on our way through the Maya world.
We will absolutely recommend driving up to Uaxactun from Tikal if you are in this area (or through the jungle if you have a good 4x4 (and a friend also with a good 4x4…)). Three hours later we were back in Tikal, and the road from Uaxactun comes out through the site of the ruins. The guard asked if we had a permit for driving up to Uaxactun, so we showed him the ticket to El Zotz. He needed a couple of minutes… But in the end all was fine, and after checking that we hadn’t brought with us any animals or rare plants (fortunately he overlooked all the lianas hanging from our roof racks …) he waved us through. From Tikal we drove straight down to a campground in El Remate for a beer and a shower! A wonderful little detour indeed!
Oh! I almost forgot about Jack. Back in El Remate we checked our email, and we learned that Jack HAD driven in towards El Zots later that same day. He found the big mud hole… And got stuck… For two days! He told us he had learned an important lesson in 4x4ing: Make sure you have 4x4!