Travel in Guatemala, Central America – what not to do


Area I hiked around Ixlu

Last hike, when I was staying in San Benito, threw me for a loop. Mind got boggled and it took it awhile to get unboggled. Travel is tough enough without making the mistake of running out of daylight on your hike!

I traveled about 35 KM out of San Benito to Ixlu, which was supposed to be a small site for Mayan ruins. Free of charge, it was right up my alley. Looked easily accessible, open parking lot, not a lot of brush underneath the trees. Looked like an easy hike to see what I wanted to see.

Alas, it was not to be. Paths leading every which way, and 1 sign to direct the hiker. 1 sign only, and it said Ixlu was 4 KM from where I was. Easy enough, 4 KM can be knocked out in less than an hour. Ha, so I thought!

Hiked and hiked, I did. Traveled over hills and through the valleys of the hills and jungles of Guatemala, never to find Ixlu.

Bananas being grown in the hills

Saw some monkeys, which is always a good thing, in my opinion.

Looked at some corn fields, gourd fields, orange trees and bananas that the locals planted out in the hills.

They do this all over Guatemala – go out into the hills and mountains, and see if they can plant and grow things to sell and eat. Pretty amazing, and an awful lot of hard work.


Not something I would do in the heat and hard work of getting this stuff to grow!

Lake looking out from a corn Field

They fence their areas off, and paths lead up and down the fences, into and out of the jungle and bushes. The Gawd awful thing, nothing’s marked . You either know where you are, and where you want to go or you do not. There is no in between.

Being the adventurer I am, and not wanting to retrace my path, I followed some fence posts, trekked some fields, and was having a great time. Until I noticed that I was running out of daylight. I had about 2 maybe 3 hours.

Ran into some fishermen, who were casting out into a lake that had been on my right side the entire hike. Asked about the path, broken Spanish and pointing – I got the impression that the path they pointed to would get me where I want to go.

Lake now on my left

Headed down the path, lake is now on my left – this is a good thing! Heading in the right direction, aha!! Through the woods, up and down the hills, making progress I feel. Daylight is fading, but there is enough that if I find it within a half hour, I’ll be fine.

What is it? Murphy’s law? – “If it’s going to go wrong, it will and at the worse possible time.”

Well, the path dead ends in a corn field. Nothing going out of this corn field. One of the few that I have run across that has no fence, so no path. This is getting me worried, as I have traveled a good distance, I’m tired and thirsty. No path!! I know that the darn path that leads me out of here and to my car is – straight, with the lake on my left. But how far?

Heavy brush all around, changing into trees and jungle. All 3 sides. I can go back to the path I came in on, but I will not make it out by dark – I have gone to far. Straight, and it is fighting brush , then jungle – I know I am close – but not sure how close.

You know those movies where you see the people going through the jungle, fighting vines that wrap around them, and after about 15 feet they’re tired out, and need a rest? I never believed that the jungle could be that way – I was wrong!!

The movies show the truth! The darn vines really do wrap around you , you get tangled up in everything. After about 15 to 20 feet of going through this junk, you really do need to rest!

My goal, as I was laying on the ground the last rest period I gave myself, was to make it to a clump of trees. Light was fading fast, and I preferred being in the trees vs. the open fields. I made the trees with light left to spare, and decided to wait until the break of day to try to move on again.

See, this guy has his stuff under ! (one!) tree

Now, if I would have been more logical, I would have remembered on my hike seeing that the locals who spent time out here, stayed under maybe a single tree or in the open. They did not camp in the trees. I

Think about it – where is moisture retained the most – under trees or in the open?

Next question – bugs are most prevalent in moist or dry areas?

OK, for those of you who cannot answer the above questions, bugs are most prevalent in a forested area – where there is moisture. Where am I spending the night?

In the forested area!!

As one fellow told me after I shared with him about this night – “The bugs had you for dinner!”

So, night settles in – monkeys in the trees above and around. I am thinking I am laying in monkey doo doo. And bugs will be there. And it is black.

Where can I move to? I have no flashlight. I really cannot see 1 foot in front of me. Sit tight – and suffer the consequences. I decide that whatever’s going to be will be. I can do nothing until daylight.

The bugs had me for dinner!

Bites everywhere I had clothes on. Back, under my shorts and under my socks. I thought with all the scratching, that they had taken at least a pound of flesh, and then some. Got a little sleep, but not much.

Sure enough, when daylight broke, and I was off again, in 20 minutes, I was on the path that led me back to my car.

I am writing this about a week after this happened, and I still do not have total relief from all the bites. These bugs out here in the jungle are nasty – and when they get you , it lasts awhile before you get any relief. The night in the jungle took its toll on me. Being 58, it takes me time to recover from these things.

So , mind got boggled. Body got eaten a bit. Sleep and rest was what I needed. Got this over the last 5 days, and perky as a spring chicken now.

Mind unboggled and all is good once again

Cheers for now.

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About John Wilson

Traveler, writer and photographer. No home now, just traveling the world in search of the lost chord.
This entry was posted in Guatemala - the country, the people, the sites and pictures, When traveling - what not to do, a personal experience and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Travel in Guatemala, Central America – what not to do

  1. silverboom says:

    You might want to think about basic things when hiking anywhere, Big Mozey…basics like carrying at least 2 quarts of water, a flashlight, food, and of course, a compass. None of this is weighty and could make a diff in getting eaten and getting out. :D

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