Published: July 20th 2011July 18th 2011
M – We have tried to mix it up with the food in the last few weeks – street food, market food, bus stations, airports, restaurants and hotels. Most of our experiences have been good and some even great. As we have mentioned before, regardless of where we end up there is always the rice and beans option. And if you don’t choose it, just to make sure you didn’t forget, they will usually add a portion of each to your plate anyway. Now I have entered a new stage – I am experimenting with new concoctions. The first that I am proud to unveil is the Central American Equivalent of the British Chip Butty! Using the other staple that usually comes with all food ........the Flour Tortilla. Take a flour tortilla, add a good squirt of hot chile sauce, chips (aka. French fries), roll like a burrito, squeeze a little to merge the flavors (very important this piece) and bingo you have a more than suitable alternative to the Chip Butty.
If you don’t have access to chips and tortillas don’t worry. The local store in Guatemala can keep your hunger at bay and give you a little buzz
with the handy combination of a bottle of rum and a large bag of crisps (aka. Chips). And all for only about $5. What a handy bargain?
We left Antigua on an overnight bus via Guatemala City to Flores. The overnight bus had seats that reclined like the old business class airline seats complete with a proper leg rest. In fact, had the driver not thought he was Michael Schumacher we might have actually gotten some sleep. It wasn’t the cornering on the mountain passes that was so bad, as we couldn’t see the drop in the dark, but it was the braking. For those that have not travelled on a double-decker coach it feels like small boat in a storm whenever the brakes are hit hard. The whole thing rocks violently. At best you can’t sleep much, as worst you get a little seasick!
Flores is a little man-made island in a lake about 90 minutes from the ruins at Tikal. This was our final stop before heading to Belize for our flight to Miami. We managed to grab a couple of hours kip before heading out to the ruins. The ruins at Tikal are much larger than
those that we visited at Copan Ruinas in Honduras with the largest structures rising our through the top of the tree canopy. The ruins are in pretty dense jungle unlike at Copan where area around the ruins is more open. This mean we were back into the jungle humidity, something we had not missed in the last few days at Lake Atitilan and in Antigua. Our tour group were even nice enough to give us a young person to look after us oldies in the jungle/climbing the temples … only joking. A 23 year old Swedish girl asked Kate if she could walk the ruins with us for her own safety. Makes you feel old when you are 21 years older than your fellow “traveler”! She gave us the link to her blog to look at her photos. I think she has already visited 52 countries and had some pretty interesting experiences including petting Tigers and snorkeling with Whale Sharks. We are already starting to meet some interesting people on our travels and she was certainly one of them.
Next stop after Tikal was Belize City. During the drive through Belize en route to Belize City the return to the
Caribbean feel was very evident. This became even more pronounced when we reached the coast. We only had a night in Belize City due to our pretty short schedule in Central America. We only had 4 1/2 weeks available for this leg of the trip so we had decided to chop out a few countries based upon perceived expense and ‘Americanization’. Belize was one of the ones that got the chop together with Costa Rica, Mexico and El Salvador. Although Belize City itself isn’t anywhere you would really want to spend time in we did enjoy the Caribbean feel and we may well spend more time looking at some of the islands in the future. Being able to speak English again to the locals may be part of that attraction, although we are also thinking of going back to Antigua for Spanish lessons in the future.
Next stop Miami. Kate and I lived in Miami for several years before moving to California and it’s always nice to drop by and enjoy the weather/see friends. This was a real quick visit as we needed to get to the UK. We really appreciate our good friends W&S for putting us up
for the night and allowing us to use their house to sort out some admin etc before flying out. Better still they laid on a BBQ on the Sunday afternoon under their fabulous Tikki-Hut (see picture) and another good friend and his girlfriend joined us. It was great to see them. The BBQ was quite an international gathering. In particular two of the people at the BBQ were from Columbia. Again we heard great things about Columbia from them which only reinforced what we had heard from many from people on our travels. The next day we went to a Columbian restaurant for lunch. Any country that serves piping hot pork scratchings (chicharones in spanish) as an appetizer gets my vote. We will definitely be adding Columbia to the list for any return trip to Central/South America …
After lunch Kate was challenged to a game of monopoly by W&S’s 6 and 8 year old children. I’m not exactly sure who won or what the rules were but listening to the squeals of delight and lower pitched voice defining the rules was plenty of entertainment for me.
There are more photos below