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Published: February 14th 2007
Templo II Gran Plaza
Templo II Gran Plaza
My first trip out of the country since my 6 months in Asia, and it’s been extremely hard to convince myself that I only have a week out here. I told myself I needed to get out of the ‘travel’ mindset and into the ‘vacation’ mindset, but I am finding that is easier said than done. I don’t remember the last time I went on a vacation.
Thursday night was my 30th birthday and in true fashion of trying as hard as I can to not act my age, I pulled an all-niter. It was a great night and I wouldn’t take it back, but it made for a worthless Friday. Well, not entirely worthless, but I didn’t start packing for this trip until 10:00 Friday night. I had a 6:00 flight out of SFO on Saturday morning. I had nothing booked in terms of hotels, etc…just a round-trip ticket to Cancun.
Somehow I made this flight, which is a first for me, and was on my way to Mexico.
It was an easy flight, but I felt a head cold coming on and breathing recycled air all day did not help.
When I arrived in Cancun I was absolutely blown-away.
I had heard Cancun was very modern compared to other Mexican cities, but I was thinking Cabo-modern, not Vegas-modern. I expected the huge resorts, but it was insane to see huge strip-malls, outlet stores, 3-story McDonalds, Office Depots, Hard Rocks, Patty O’Brien’s, bright lights and on and on. Based on that, that’s probably where I should’ve stayed…this was a perfect place for a ‘vacation’ right? Lounge on the beach in an all-inclusive resort, sip boat-drinks, and go out for nice dinners every night? But nope…just can’t do it.
After one night in Central Cancun, I caught my puddle-jumper to Flores, Guatemala.
Flying into Flores, an area of northern Guatemala that consists of a few little towns, all I could see out the window was rainforest. It was gorgeous. Buried under all that vegetation was the Mayan city of Tikal; the reason I was coming to Guatemala.
When I landed in the Flores airport, which was quite different than the circus that was Cancun airport, it was deserted. There were little kiosks for travel agencies, tours, rental cars; etc…but there was nobody manning them. There were a couple guards with assault rifles, one girl stamping passports, and the few people who
A picture of a picture of the island of Flores
got off the plane with me before it headed on to Guatemala City with the rest of the passengers.
I finally found a taxi and asked the driver to take me to a hotel on Flores (the actual town of Flores which is an island of about 1,000 people and is about 1 miles around). He dropped me at a nice place and this is where I spent 3 nights. Flores is a great little town. Not much to do, but it’s got a lot of character. All red tin roofs, the buildings all painted bright colors, cool funky shops and restaurants. Amazing food, from local Mayan dishes to an awesome Cordon Blu. People here are very friendly and helpful, even though the language barrier is a little thick. In a lot of the places I have traveled, they don’t really expect foreigners to know the language, but in Guatemala, so many speak Spanish, that it’s a given that you do too.
Basing myself in Flores, I explored Tikal, probably the most impressive of all the Mayan cities. The first day I went in at 5am and hiked through the pitch-blackness to watch the sun rise over the rainforest from
View from Room
Flores from Isla de Flores Hotel
the top of one of the temples. The view was only semi-stunning, but the sounds were the highlight. The howling monkeys, the parrots, the toucans…there was a symphony of sounds coming from the rainforest that grew louder and louder as the sun rose in the sky. This concert made for an amazing start to an exhausting day of hiking dirt trails and climbing thousands of ancient steps up and down these temples.
The whole time I’ve been here I have been fighting my cold…but over the past couple days it’s subsided a bit. Last night, however, it completely left my head and went into my lungs…I went to the Pharmacia and I don’t have a temperature, so it’s not bronchitis or anything…but I’m worried it’s going to affect my plans for diving in Belize. But I guess I’ll just have to wait and see.
Off to Belize…
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