Friday, January 06, 2012

Mayans Didn't Have Electricity Either

In order to leave the Rio Dulce, we have to hire a private driver to get to Tikal. Public transport is not existent without major routes, changes of buses, and hoping for connections. Manuel, who we presume is the manager, was able to make the arrangements for us. It will cost us a hefty 140,000 quetzals or 140 Euros, but the drive is 4 hours one way and the driver will return after dropping us off, most likely by himself.

After taking the 9 am boat shuttle from the hotel to town, our driver was waiting for us. He did not speak English and Ron opted for the front seat, so he had some practice refreshing his Spanish. With my nose in a book, I looked up every few pages to assure myself there was nothing spectacular happening with the scenery as we drove. That was until the fourth look out the window; we came across a small herd of about 7 – 9 Brahma cows strolling down the highway completely unattended by any humans. They looked like they were running away from home or the slaughter house, but it were the later, they were too emaciated to make more than a few hamburgers at most.

We arrived in Tikal, a national park and protected UNESCO World Heritage site. For two nights our residence is the Hotel Tikal Inn, one of three hotels within the park situated in the jungle that surrounds the Mayan ruins located in this part of the country. Again, we have a lovely little bungalow, but there is one problem: electricity. None of the lights or electric outlets in our room functioned. When we brought this to the attention of the front desk, we were informed that there is only electricity from 6-9 pm and 6-9 am. Aside from those times, the entire park is dark or as light as nature allows, but not electrified.

Okay, this creates a problem because my little netbook is old, but still reliable, yet it only holds a charge for 2 hours before needing an AC/DC fix. One or the other, but I have no idea which it is. I figured I would whip out my Tigo Internet stick and spend two hours on the Internet, then recharge the battery when electric juice is turned on. Well that turned into problem number 2. They do not get a Tigo signal here in the park, so the USB stick doesn’t work.

The bright side alternative was being advised that there was free WiFi in the lobby; the password is prominently taped to the counter. For everything there is a catch. Although I am happy that I can download my e-mails, there is a but or two following. The first BUT is that the WiFi only works when the electricity is turned on, which brings us back to those limited hours of availability. But 2 is that the WiFi only works in the lobby of the hotel, not on the grounds and certainly not in the rooms. Bummer! What a conundrum!

Adding to this mix, dinner is only served during these hours also, creating a number of agenda items to be covered in a short period of time. Add battery juice to the computer in the room. Run into the lobby to download e-mail and do whatever Internet things need doing, eat dinner, and then run back to the room to charge the battery one the computer on last time before 9 pm. It is going to be interesting.

Dinner is tasty, but only moderately hot. We wonder if they use electric for the cooking and not gas. There is a summer camp feeling having lights out at 9 pm. No one gets to do any reading in bed unless you brought your own book light or flashlight. But hey, we are going on a 4 am tour to see the Mayan ruins at sunrise, so we need to get to bed early anyway.
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