3 days in beautiful Flores

Published: April 3rd 2018
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I arrived to Flores on Monday evening, 19th of March. I got there via bus from Chetumal with 3 other people I had met in the hostel in Chetumal : Laurenz from Berlin in Germany and Anja and Skander (a couple) from Bern in Switzerland. I had actually met Laurenz at the bank in Chetumal, where he tried to exchange some money, but in the end I had to do it for him, because he didn’t have his passport with him. I had made that mistake earlier that day and had returned to our hostel in the meantime to get it. Since I wanted to spare him that extra trip, I exchanged both of our money.

The bus ride to Flores was long and exhausting and we were very happy when we finally arrived in Flores. There, we got a free beer from the reception of the tour operator and we withdrew some cash. There are only 2 ATMs in Flores, one at this tour operator office and one in a supermarket.

From there, we walked to the place where we would be picked up by our hostel. Laurenz, Anja, Skander and me had all booked the same hostel, so it was nice to have company all the way. :-) Our hostel (Casa de Grethel), was not actually in Flores, but on a different island and we had to cross the lake to get there, but our hostel provided free transportation the whole day long to Flores.

When we arrived to our hostel, we were stunned, so beautiful was it. There was a jetty just outside of the hostel and hamacs and loungers on the jetty. It was really cosy and the water was warm day and night, so the first thing we did after arriving was jumping in the lake! :-D

The staff at the hostel was really nice and welcoming. They helped us with our luggage and made the check-in fast and easy. The rooms there were spacious, there were lockers and everything was really clean. The common spaces were really cosy and nice, the kitchen was nice and clean as well. The only bad thing : there was only one bathroom (shower + WC) on the first floor, which is not much for 3 dorms of 8 people...

That first night, we ordered food at the restaurant and it was absolutely delicious ! I had vegetarian pasta and the others chicken. It was quite cheap and amazing ! We spent the rest of the night talking and drinking a few beer. It was really nice and I had a very good time with Laurenz, Anja and Skander. :-D

The next morning at 8AM started our tour to Tikal. Here again, the 4 of us did it together. Tikal was quite nice, but our guide sucked bad. He didn’t give us any information, just told us to get up this pyramid or that, but nothing about the Maya civilisation. It was ok for us, because we had already done some tours in Mexico and already gotten a lot of information about the Maya.

Tikal was a huge city, a few hundred thousand people are supposed to have lived there, but, like all other Maya cities, it has been abandoned around 1000 A.D., probably because of overpopulation, diseases, deforestation, a lack of water etc. Now, it’s nice to visit it, because most of it is still in the deep jungle and the view from the highest temple - it’s actually the highest of all Maya temple - over the jungle is beautiful !

It was very hot and humid there, that wasn’t so comfortable, but we still had a good time and enjoyed the day. On our way back, we stopped at the supermarket outside of Flores, because Skander wanted to cook for us that night. Then we took one of the small tricylcle taxis (we call them « tuc-tucs ») back to the shore from where we then took a boat back to our hostel. On our way back, Laurenz bought a ticket to Semuc Champey for the next day and Anja, Skander and me got some information about how to continue our journey in Guatemala.

Like me, Skander and Anja are travelling for 1 year and are now going direction South, travelling and doing some volunteering/work away on the way. Since we like each other very much, we decided to continue together for some time. It’s actually pretty nice to have some people with whom you travel. Of course, it’s always nice to travel alone and meet new people at your hostel, but with time, it becomes exhausting to start over every day, always the same conversation : « Where are you from, how long are you travelling for, what was your last stop, what’s your next destination ? ». If you travel with some other people, you can still meet many other people at your hostel, but you also have someone to have a nicer, deeper conversation with, someone who will look after your stuff if you go to the bathroom, someone to share your plans, and stories with. :-)

Anja and Skander are both 26, so a bit younger then me, but you really can’t see that. They have travelled a lot in their life and have many interesting stories to tell. It’s really nice to be with them. :-D

Anja and Skander had talked to some girls from the Netherlands who had told them about Río Dulce and how nice it is there and so we decided to go there, then to Semuc Champey, to Lago Atitlán and finally to Antigua.

Our last night with Laurenz, Skander cooked some delicious chicken breast filled with guacamole and wrapped with cheese and beacon. It was absolutely delicious! We also had a few beers and played UNO. Daniel from Barcelona, a guy we had met in the hostel earlier and who had also gone to Tikal that day, joined us for UNO and dessert (fresh papaya, grapes and oranges. We had a fun last night together! :-)

Daniel had been to Antigua a few days earlier and gone up the volcano there. It seems he didn’t put on enough sunscreen and got really burnt, but burnt bad ! He had many blisters on his back and on some parts the skin was completely gone and bleeding. Really aweful!

The next morning, Laurenz left at 8AM and I spent the morning working on some emails. Later that day, I went to Flores and walked around the town. It’s pretty small and in 1 hour you’ve seen it all. But it’s really pretty, lots of colourful houses and nice small streets. Then I went to the mall and bought a SIM card for Guatemala and a prepaid for 1 month. It’s actually quite cheap : 125 GTQ (quetzales = 13€) for 1 month, unlimited whatsapp, facebook, 2,5GB and unlimited calls and messages in Guatemala. The good thing, the internet is without borders and I can continue using it for free in Honduras and Nicaragua.

Then I went to Actún Can, the « serpent cave » in Flores. It was nice, but completely dark and you have to go in with a headlight and helmet. It’s also very wet and slippery inside, so you have to be quite careful where you step. I was the only tourist at that moment and I was pretty scared, all alone in a huge dark cave, but I managed to see most of it before I left. At some point I was scared I wouldn’t be able to find the exit, I had to look all the time at the picture I had taken of the map, a bit difficult to find the signs and the way in total darkness.

Then I went back to the hostel and spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun and swimming.

Just after I arrived back to the hostel, Skander came back too and with him a familiar face : Jochen, a guy that I had met in Valladolid in the same time as Lorenzo. They had been friends and spent 2 days together before I met them and Jochen left for Belize. The world is small :-) He was travelling with a girl called Isabelle, also from Germany, and they spent the rest of the afternoon and the evening with us. We ate some chips, had some beer and then went to Flores for dinner. There we also bought a bus ticket to Río Dulce for the next day.

We had dinner at a really nice bar and the food there was really good. I had pasta with pesto and chicken and it was delicious! :-D

Since I arrived to Guatemala, I was feeling much better, no more stomach cramps, just some diarrhea, but not bad anymore. So I was very happy and I enjoy food even more now that I was reminded how it feels not to eat properly for weeks! ^_^

We had a very nice evening together and Jochen and Isabelle were really nice people. :-)

The next morning, we had breakfast, talked a bit with Jochen and Isabelle and then, at 9h30, left for Flores, to take our bus to Río Dulce. Instead of a bus, we were picked up by a tuctuc and a motorbike who took the 3 of us to the bus station. There we discovered, that they had completely scammed us! Instead of the first class bus with AC and WC we had booked and paid for (150 GTQ), they had put us on a second class bus that only costs 70 GTQ without AC and without WC and with only locals. Also, instead of leaving at 10, it left at 11 ! Unfortunately, we knew we would never get our money back and since it was after 10, we would have to wait another day to get a 1st class bus and so we swallowed our anger down and took the bus anyway. The bus terminal didn’t seem secure and so Skander waited outside until the bus finally left, to make sure nobody steals our luggage from the storage of the bus. It was a good thing we were 3 people and not me alone, I don’t think I would have done it.

So be aware if you book a bus in Flores, not to book it via Maya Expeditions, but rather with your hostel. :S

Flores had been a wonderful experience, I loved this place and I would go there again any time. I can only recommend you to go there, enjoy the sun and the lake and to go to the Casa de Grethel hostel !

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