Story: The Great Tikal Adventure

Last time we promised you we’d share our entry to the Fred’s Blog 2017 #travel Stories Competition? Well, here we are!

We could say that we chose to present it in epistolary style in homage to such classics as The Screwtape Letters…

…or we could say we don’t have time to actually write anything to order, so we’re just tossing an old email into the ring here to see if anybody besides Amanda finds it funny. Whichever.

To give you the setting of Our Little Travel Story here, this is our by-all-the-gods-I’m-going-to-prove-I-almost-made-it shot taken on the run whilst approaching the Cozumel docks, the Carnival Valor being the one on the right:

Carnival Valor

And before we get started, may we please publicly present our overwhelming gratitude to the crew of the Valor and the staff of Carnival in general for their professionalism, forbearance, and all around efforts beyond the call of duty to make this little stunt come off as smoothly as it did.

And to my guardian angel, whom I trust is collecting combat pay for her spectacularly long-suffering efforts in making everything work out for us, even when that is clearly impossible. Especially when that is clearly impossible.

Without further ado then, let us present our chronicle of the closing seconds of The Great Tikal Adventure:

From: The Troll
To: Doran, Amanda
Subject: Caribbean Travel Tips #4

Tip #4. On The Sensibility of Side Trips To Tikal From Belize

Don’t do it.

Seriously. Just don’t.

It’s not merely impossible legally, it’s actually grounds to get yourself chucked in a Belizean jail just for trying, as a cruise dock stamp is not in fact a visa. That makes you guilty of illegal entry in the eyes of the border guards when you try to leave … and Belize takes that very seriously.

Even if you are a troll, things will work out for you yes, but only by dint of one of Those Adventures that you can’t actually tell anybody the flat out truth about because they’ll never believe another word out of your mouth ever again. Let us give you a quick taste of the last 45 seconds or so of The Great Tikal Adventure, as that is still fresh in our minds.

TROLL, huffing and puffing, runs flat out along the Cozumel dock to the Carnival Valor, watching the bow lines being cast off; turns corner and sees that the side of the ship is completely closed off.

(As we know, of course, things always work out for trolls. But at that exact moment, watching the last bow line disappear and the stern lines start to go, TROLL is having a bit of a crisis of faith. Actually STANDING IN THE SHADOW OF YOUR @(#%#0}#^(!!! SHIP with no way on it will do that.)

SECURITY GUARD, cleverly observing TROLL about to spontaneously explode: Sir? What ship?


SECURITY GUARD gobbles on radio as last stern line disappears and water starts foaming by steering jets.

DOOR opens amidships. SECURITY GUARD runs for it. TROLL follows.

SECURITY GUARD: They say everyone’s on board!


CREW MEMBER from DOOR, now about five feet from DOCK: ARE YOU THE GUY WE LOST IN BELIZE?

TROLL, grabbing CARNIVAL CARD and leaning into the run for his Best Longjump Ever into the DOOR, now about six and a half feet from DOCK: YES!


SUPPORTING CREW MEMBERS rush up carrying GANGWAY, attempt to extend it to DOCK. Fail by about three feet.


TROLL jumps. GANGWAY tilts out to sea alarmingly. TROLL scampers up faster than you’d probably think a troll could scamper, bringing GANGWAY down inside SHIP with a resounding THUD.

Massive APPLAUSE from audience on DECK above, the DOCK beside, and OTHER SHIP across the DOCK.

So, yeah. Maybe it wasn’t timed to the exact last second … but it was quite certainly well under five. Certainly, we would never, EVER, wish to cut things to any finer measure of exactitude than that.

(VARIOUS and SUNDRY kerfuffle, ending up with TROLL more or less frogmarched upstairs)

ANGRY CARNIVAL OFFICIAL: Do you know how much trouble you caused us?

TROLL: I’m a bad troll.

ANGRY CARNIVAL OFFICIAL: We held the whole ship up waiting for you in Belize!

TROLL: I’m a bad, bad troll.

ANGRY CARNIVAL OFFICIAL: The Belize police are carrying out a search for you!

TROLL: Look, we’ve established quite thoroughly what kind of troll I am, haven’t we?

(Perhaps in future we should give preference to cruise lines which are not Carnival. And hope there isn’t an industry-wide blacklist.)

So yeah, that was the very very end of the adventure. It was, shall we say, a really quite fitting finale indeed.

When I get back we’ll have to have a drink and go over the bits in between Belize City anchorage and ”…huffing and puffing, runs flat out along Cozumel dock…” Although parts of it, particularly the Guatemalan bandit blockade running incident, are even more implausible than the ending is…



Check out #travel Maps: to see how we got from Belize City anchorage to jumping off the Cozumel dock!

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  1. […] as it happens, we just posted that story about The Great Tikal Adventure, so we figured those of you who were amused by it might like to see just how we got from Belize […]

  2. Amy

    I love your style of writing and have a feeling that no matter where you go, adventure is sure to follow. In my mind, I was envisioning the spectators on board holding up score cards like the Olympics. 🙂

    1. Alex

      I’m quite sure when I die they’re going to put “It seemed like a good idea at the time” on my headstone, the number of stories I have that start out that way…

  3. There’s nothing that makes me more anxious than the fear of being left behind! So glad you made it back on the ship and had quite a story to tell. Great writing!

    1. Alex

      Thank you very much!

  4. OMG! This was hilarious! I probably would have made a stand up ovation too! LOL ?Loved this blog post!

    1. Alex

      Thank you! I do tend to find myself in absurd situations a lot, but this was over the top by pretty much anybody’s standards…

  5. […] Story: The Great Tikal Adventure […]

  6. […] time we were through those parts it was in a dead panic to catch up with our cruise ship as part of The Great Tikal Adventure, going back with some time to actually enjoy ourselves would be a […]

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