Published: September 25th 2012September 25th 2012
So I thought I better get the rest of this trip written up before I go on the next...
Flores is a tiny but very pretty little island which provides a good base for visiting Tikal. I stayed in a quiet hostel right by the water which was really lovely and chillaxed after the hell of Belize! There are loads of gorgeous restaurants on the water and it's a really chilled out place, not much in the way of partying but that was fine as it's an EARLY start to do the Tikal trip. Off I went on the bus at stupid o'clock in the morning only to arrive and it start raining. And it did not stop. The whole day. Hah. It sort of added to the mystical atmosphere of the place though as all of the ruins are set right in the middle of a jungle. We toured around looking at the different structures and the guide explained all about Mayan culture and the calendar. The world, I can assure you from the Mayan people, is not going to end in December. It's merely the beginning of a new era... I wish I could remember it all because
all the buildings at that particular site added up to the exact numbers that the Mayans live by. It was wicked cool but my poor brain couldn't retain it all.
The main site in the middle of the jungle was awesome and I had a lot of fun with my camera picking out blue ponchos in a black and white photograph. Heehee. They are really incredible structures and differ from the Egyptian pyramids in that they were not built for tombs but for worship. Onwards through the rain and up to the most spectacular view. You are standing on top of one of the buildings looking out at dense jungle and you can see the tops of 3 other buildings. Incredible. Even in the wind and the rain.
I must admit, I did compare Tikal to Angkor Wat and all the many, many ruins around that area...Angkor Wat wins but they are so completely different and I thoroughly enjoyed exploring this side of the world's history too.
After Flores, I was starting to get a bit lonely as I had been a week on my tod at that point so it was great to meet a nice
young chap with whom I laughed and laughed at just how different the UK travel experience is to Central America's. As we were en route on our "First class" bus (ahem!), the bus driver pulls over in a little village, quite inexplicably. However, on his return, we discovered he had merely wanted some chips! Well, why not...it's not as if you've a timetable to stick to...! Hahaha. So the next stop was Rio Dulce and how I loved it! I stayed in the Kangaroo Hostel and if you go, I can't recommend it enough. I was collected by boat by the owner who zoomed us back to his lovely wooden hostel sat on the river. It was idyllic. Even better, there were people to chat to! Hooray! The first day I just stayed in the hostel chatting with some other travellers and befriended a nice Aussie dude and his mum. Wicked cool that his mum had flown over to see him coz she was sick of waiting for him to come home! So the next day, on the owner of the hostels advice, we went to this amazing place called Finca el Paraiso which is a hot waterfall. Beautiful, beautiful
scenery and the quite surreal experience of swimming in a cold pool and then standing under roasting hot waterfall! It was like having a hot shower. In the middle of a jungle. With a whole bunch of other people. In a river. Anyway it was awesome. After that we hopped back on a minibus to a stunning canyon and had a little paddle up the river in a very debatable boat...I know, my experience with boats should really make me think twice but it was so pretty... JP, if you're reading this, it was still one of my favourite loving my life days. So there!
The rest of the Rio Dulce trip was just chilling, eating and drinking. Lovely. Then onwards to Semuc Champey. The trip itself was fine, only 6 hours or so. Landing up in an extremely questionable hostel in the stinking rain again, not so fine. However, I met another lovely couple who lived in Rome so I was in my element... We also got chatting to a French family who were travelling in Guatemala for 5 weeks - incredible. British dad, French mum and 14 and 17 year old daughters. Awesome if you ask me.
So Semuc. The hike up to the viewpoint was strenuous but not ridiculous. The view was breathtaking. I'll put photos on as words don't do it justice. Loved it. Then we went back down to swim in all the little pools. Well, no one told me I'd have to jump into freezing cold water! Off we went. Got used to the cold. Did not get used to the going down "natural" slides (I DREW BLOOD!!!!) and jumping off of stuff. Oof. However, it was fun, it was beautiful and I'll never get that chance again I shouldn't think. Then onto the caves...ok, so I had been warned that it was quite scary but NO ONE SAID IT WAS LIFE THREATENING!!!! So when I went into the caves, I was most scared of the bats (terrifying) and the cold water. When I was coming out of the caves, I couldn't have given a flying filangie about either of these things. Oh. Dear. God. So you have to swim part of it one handed, with a candle. Then climb some ridiculous ladders that have seen better days, squeeze through tiny spaces and hang off rocks...all with no shoes and wearing a bikini!
I mean, what?! Then came the waterfall. The one guide took off and left us standing in actual pitch black, in the water, with not a chuffing clue where we were or where the way out was. He went to light some candles and we were stood there saying...if he doesn't come back...well... So he returned and off we went swimming one handed again. Then we reach a ledge. Which takes us to a waterfall. The volume of water combined with the pressure led me to believe this must be the end of the line. Oh how wrong can you be. OF COURSE we're going to grab this rope and SWING THROUGH THE FLIPPING THING! I actually thought this was it, this is how I'm going to die. In a cave. In Guatemala. With a bunch of random strangers. Hahaha. I love the drama. We survived. We carried on. We stopped. We had to go BACK THE WAY WE CAME. Oh come on now. However, thankfully the guide seemed to quite enjoy hanging onto me and so I was a little "safer"...hahaha. Hand held/groped the whole way back. Can't complain.
What an adventure. After that we went rafting down
the river in tubes. Obviously mine went the wrong way and the wee lad had to swim out to catch me. Well... what fun would it be if it all went swimmingly.
After all that madness, I was ready for Antigua, for hot showers, for my Spanish class! TBC....
There are more photos below