It rained all night. My first night in the jungle I slept to the sounds of raindrops and the hundreds of insects making their nightly calls. I was very close to the Guatemala border in the far south of Mexico. After such a long time I have left the deserts and mountains behind me, for now.
It had been so long since I heard the sounds of insects at night that I was entranced by their call. Isn’t it strange how you don’t miss something until it’s gone. Who would have thought I would miss the insects of the night.
The following morning I was in no rush to make a move. A combination of the light rain and low cloud did little to inspire me to make a move. I spent several hours relaxing, reading and drinking many coffees, listening to the inspiring sounds of nature.
The Lagunas de Montebello
I stopped at a lake to wander down for a look. Several kids aged maybe 7-8 years old wanted money to protect my bike. I asked why they weren’t at school. They decided that my bike would be fine locked up to a tree. It was only a short walk to Laguna Aquatinta, a deep green lake surrounded on all sides by thick rain forest. It’s been so long since I’ve walked in a rain forest. I guess it is technically called Cloud forest. I’m still at about 1500 meters in altitude on the sloping hills that fall away to the low altitude jungle nearby.
I returned to my bicycle. The kids put on the sad faces when I refused to pay them any tips. I’m not about to support begging or child labour any time soon, or ever for that matter. Only about 1 or 2 kilometers down the road there were several more lakes with a couple of ladies cooking food in their makeshift kitchens. It was lunchtime so I ordered some quesadillas with cheese and flowers. Yes, flowers. Known as Flor de Calabasa. A large bright yellow flower that didn’t really have much in the way of flavour. I’m not sure what I was expecting.
I detoured off the main road onto a network of small side roads that took me past many small rural villages. Chickens were the most common bird in this part of the jungle, closely followed by turkeys and ducks. The people were friendly as I passed them on my mud stained bicycle. This detour bought me out at a place called the 5 Lakes or Cinco Lagunas. Unfortunately, the weather turned sour. Drizzle turned to rain and a short stop make me cold enough to start to shiver, so I took a quick photo and kept moving further into the jungle lowlands.
Rain and Ranches
I hid from the rain and cold in a roadside restaurant. I perused the maps and noted that a big descent was just ahead, it would lead me into the warmth of the tropical lowland jungle. It was getting late in the day. I considered staying in a cabin at one of the nearby towns but the weather started to clear so I set off downhill.
Jungle gave way to farms. Coffee plantations, cocoa plantations, banana plantations, corn plantations and cattle ranches. It seemed that everybody was drunk. Every small village or house seemed to have drunk people nearby. Several walked down the middle of the main road, others were passed out on the side of the road. I would have to pick my campsite carefully tonight.
The jungle was slowly and sometimes quickly being removed to make way for farms. Most appeared to be small family run farms but there was also the evidence of large scale cattle ranching moving into the area. The jungle is under threat in this border area between Guatemala and Mexico. Only a small percentage of the once extensive jungle remains. I made camp on the side of the road near a large scale cattle ranch. I’m sure what I’m in for as I aim to get further into the Jungle.