Seeing as it’s been a full week spent on Caye Caulker in Belize, the decision was made to head west and see what Guatemala has to offer for the remaining week of this short tour of Central America.
I’ve been making this trip up as I’ve gone along and so far it’s been working a charm. In hindsight, I could have left the island earlier to allow me to venture deeper into Guatemala, but that’s what hindsight is… 20/20.
Enough of the preamble, let’s see what’s going on in Flores, a 4-5 bus ride west of Belize City.
As seen at the end of the Belize Diaries, I’ve made my way to Flores, the staging area for exploring the Mayan ruins of Tikal. I’d booked the 4:30 am trip to visit Tikal, and it seems my entire dorm room had done the same. Everybody was sound asleep by 9 pm. Perfect.
You can do a 3 am trip in order to catch the sunrise, but 4:30 am was early enough for me. After some back tracking and heavily potholed roads, we made it to Tikal in just under 1.5 hours.
The gates to the park open at 6, which meant the back tracking to pick up forgotten gueats didn’t leave us with any significant delay to start the day.
With our passes firmly in hand it was time to soak in some history. I hadn’t initially bought the tour guide add-on to my 80 Q trip. I’m very happy I shelled out for it there as it made the experience far more interesting and enriching. Our tour guide was exceptional as well which was the icing on the cake.
The Tikal ruins are spread out over a large distance which had us on our feet exploring for around 5 hours, mixed with a couple of breaks to climb the temples and take in the view. As you walk around you’ll hear and see the spider and howler monkeys swinging through the trees. Take care not to get a face full of digested monkey food as you walk below.
There was also a female tarantula that a groundskeeper pointed out to the group, which took a walk over some rather brave hands. We were assured she wouldn’t bite as she didn’t have any babies on her and they are docile when it’s daylight. Not for me thanks.
Our guide explained all the temples in great detail, now of which I can remember in clear enough detail to repeat, but check out this blog to find out a little more background.
A quick Google search will also yield more specifics about Tikal.
A soggy warm chocolate power bar and 2 litres of water was all I brought on the walk, so with a bit of a thirst and chocolate smeared all over face, we grabbed a beer and bite, and got the 12:30 pm shuttle back to Flores.
Everyone eventually drifted off on the drive to be awoken suddenly as our driver attempted not to murder a chicken/pig/dog/branch/pothole. Not exactly seeing the incident we just avoided, I thought I might keep my eyes open the rest of the way.
I meet up with some people from the trip for some beers later, sitting on the dock of lake Peten Itza dipping our feet and enjoying the sunset.
We found the local food truck on top of the hill in Flores for some cheap food and beer and a taste of genuine everyday life in Flores.
Hanging at these sort of places is what makes travelling a true experience. Seeing how the locals live and doing the same is what makes all the cramped bus rides and airport security worth it, not to mention your dollar goes twice as far, if not more!
We wrapped up the night with some cans and chit chat on the front steps of the hostel, watching the night go by. I got an interesting phone call saying I’ll have to be up at 5:30 am instead of 8 to get to Semuc Champey tomorrow morning. Shit.
Ah well, that’s all part of travelling, booking things ahead for once, then being told they overbooked the van and I was getting the boot. I guess we’ll see what happens tomorrow!
So welcome to Guatemala. Sunny weather and exploration of this lush country over the next week. Let’s see if I can snag a seat tomorrow for a 9 hour van ride to Semuc Champey.