Wed 14 November - Day 19 to 19 - Flores, Guatemala

Published: November 19th 2018
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Wed 14 November - Day 19 to 19 - Flores

We waved goodbye to Belize after leaving at 7.00am (with our breakfast box) then crossed into Guatemala to the charming island-town of Flores. This journey was in a private minibus. When departing Belize we paid a small fee of $40.00BZD (5.5BZD to $1AUD), pad our passports stamped then walked to the entrance of Guatemala, filling out their form to get an entry stamp. It was seamless process although some of our group lined up to get the form then lined up to submit the form. I thought that was ridiculously inefficient so went up to the counter past the long line of people to get several forms, which they gave me.

Before getting to the border, I couldn’t find my passport in my small backpack, so for a few minutes of concern until all out luggage was unloaded from the top of the minibus, and I unpacked my big backpack to find my passport at the bottom of my luggage. All was well.

On the way to Flores we stop at the breathtaking Maya site of Tikal, it is regarded as the greatest city of the Maya world and is nestled deep in the jungle. Again, we had an excellent local guide. This complex is one of the biggest Maya sites discovered. For the first time during our trip, I had to get my raincoat out as it was cool and misting rain through our walk around this big complex. We explored and learned about the flora, fauna, and amazing Mayan history with our knowledgeable guide.

The main plaza was particularly spectacular, with the highest pyramid being 70m high. Unlike some of the previous Mayan sites, we could climb some of these pyramids as they had built stair cases to climb on rather than the structures themselves. Only 22% of the ancient city has been excavated but they have lieder-mapped the whole area so they know where all the buildings are. We saw many large mounds which indicated a building was underneath the jungle.

The rain was continuing and most of our group didn’t have raincoats or umbrellas. Fortunately, is wasn’t excessively cold, however it wasn’t in the 30s like we had been experiencing over the past week or so.

The area around Tikal has been declared as the Tikal National Park and the preserved area covers 570 square kilometres. The ancient city’s mapping showed at its height covered an area greater than 16 square kilometres, with more than 3000 structures. Today the main centre covers an area of approximately two and a half square kilometres.

The emphasis was on height when creating these imposing structures because the Maya believed the higher the building, the closer they were to the gods. Around Tikal there is a lot of animal life, and we were lucky enough to spot the noisy howler monkeys and spider monkeys, pizotes (a racoon-like animal), exotic birds such as toucans, and many more beautiful birds!

We then hopped back into the minibus and drove to a lovely restaurant by the water which has a pool as well as part of the El Muelle restaurant accessed by a causeway, out over the water. It was too windy and wet to be out there unfortunately. I noticed that several of our group ordered soup for lunch which indicated that it was cooler. Attached to the restaurant was an extensive gift/souvenir shop which some of our group were excited about.

It continued to shower on the way to Flores

Flores was the last town to be conquered by the Spanish and situated in the centre of Lake Peten Itzá. The old part of the city is located on an island on Lake Peten Itza, connected to the mainland by a short causeway, which is where we stayed

The Itza people left the Yucatan region in the 13th century and built the city later known as Tayasal as their capital. They called it Noh (Nohoch) Petén, literally "City Island". It was also called Tah Itzá, or 'Place of the Itzá'.

It was here, on the island of Flores on the shore of Lake Petén Itzá, that the last independent Maya state held out against the Spanish conquerors. In 1541, Hernan Cortes came to the island, en route to Honduras, but needed to move on and did not try to conquer it.

The Spanish did not manage to conquer the island until 1697, when they marched in, attacked via boats, and destroyed it. Those who could flee did so, and many Itzá people hid in the jungle for years. From the ruins of Noh Petén arose the modern city of Flores. The modern city can thus be regarded as the second oldest continuously inhabited settlement in the Americas, after Cholula.

We arrived on the island around 4.30pm. The minibus was not allowed to drive in the small internal streets of the island so we had less than 10 minute walk in the showering rain to get to our hotel. An hour after checking in, the whole island lost power. So in the 1/2 dark, Alfredo took us on an orientation walk but we were all dressed more appropriately and warmer by then.

Tom & I and our South Australia friends both changed rooms as we had wet rooms as the wind had blown rain in under the doors. We ended up having a 3 bed room in Hotel Sabana.

Alfredo showed us where the best restaurants (all in darkness except for candles) were and the supermarket as we were encouraged to buy our breakfast for the next day. We also saw the Catedral Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios y San Pablo Itzá (say that in one breath!) which was on to of the only hill of the island (Catholic of course).

Tom & I went back to the hotel for a cold bear before going out for dinner. We found the power to the Island was back on, so we had a lovely (light) meal as we were having lunch around 2.00pm most days. We also enjoyed a mojito. It was misting with rain when we went back to our room for a fantastic sleep.

The next morning, we had coffee at the hotel before leaving in the same minibus, leaving at around 6.00am.

Additional photos below
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20th November 2018

Brilliant blogs
Hi Pam, just caught up on your blogs over the last 3, wow & many amazing, contrasting good as an exciting novel!! All relieved that the insulin challenge was addressed! The San Cristobal diverse indigenous villages, Day of the Dead festival, Palenque's archaeological sites, Merida's near by cenotes and Maya Ruins, Chichen Itza (including the great Pyramid of Kukulkan), as well as Toltec ruins of Tulum! Shark & Stingray Alley, Blue Hole, Actun Tunichil Muknal caves, and Tikal National Park!! Brilliant blogs!!! Keep enjoying yourselves & keep safe xxo
23rd November 2018

Thanks Jude
Did you recieve the several blogs I forwarded to you earlier in our trip? Yes we are having a wonderful time. It's an interesting historical area too cccc

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