Tikal & Flores, Guatemala

Published: December 5th 2008
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Uneventful trip from Belize City to Flores in the north-east corner in Guatemala, near to where the Tikal Mayan ruins that sit in the middle of a big ol forest. It largest of the ancient ruined cities of the Mayan civilization and a UNESCO world heritage site (so there). 200 - 900 AD was the best period for the city but it dates back to the 4th century BC.

I arrived on Saturday morning in Flores, which is a nice island on a lake that is connected by bridge to the more populous St Elena. What I didn´t know is that the cash machines run out of money quickly on the weekend and are not filled up until Monday. After trekking around 5 cash machine sites that were evenly spaced out through the city I gave up on it and found some dollars and pesos to swap with other travellers that had Guatemalan Quetzales to get rid of. This covered food, but managed to dodge the hostel lady who kept leaving notes on my bed that I had to pay for the dorm bed at "Los Amigos". A place down the road sold tostados (like popadums but without the curry taste and are smothered with guacomole, spicy rice, beetroot (ugh) and a slice of boiled egg on top with a sprinkling grated cheese) for 5 Quetzales so this kept me going. Weather was warm and did some swimming in the lake with some other hostel people

I couldn´t afford a guided tour for Tikal so got a bus there, bought 3 bananas for breakfast and started walking around. Although nice to look at, this was my 4th Mayan pyramid site and not having a guide to tell me about the many things that they know about the Mayans that live there (unlike the ones in Mexico where they know very little) it got a bit tiring - especially after an hour once the 3 bananas had been digested.

That night I went out with a tin whistle playing, 39 yo German, Ralph, Kate from London, Andrew from Zurich, Dex ("Derek in his passport, but Derek is only the "name he uses to get around") from Northern UK. Beers and tacos by the waterfront, followed by Ralph getting out his tin whistle and showing his prowess in national anthems and then on to a bar that the other had gone to while looking for us where Kate got serenaded by a Guatemalan rapper freestyling about her in Spanish. Rapper and posse had gone but a bus load of Guatemalan City uni students arrived and we got a great cheer when we decided to stop being ridiculous and get up and show the locals how we move in Europe. Lots of Reggaeton music was played, Ralph got really drunk, started hitting on students and calling Kate "naive" before wandering off and falling asleep on a couch in the hostel. Dex does this thing when sitting around and listening to music which is similar to air piano in the finger movement but encompasses all the different sounds from the song. It is kind of weird, but had a cool Bez style dancing.

The next day I got money, bought a 1 GBP alarm clock that was broken by the time I got back to the hostel, bought my overnight ticket to Guatemala City and spent time in St Elena people-watching. Lots of wild dogs running around the road trying to avoid the tuk-tuks/toritos, buses, dog-baiting children. It rained but a guy from the hostel said that it was the kind
Bus transferBus transferBus transfer

The public bus meets another minibus from a travel agency who will tell you of the tours that they offer while driving you to your destination in Flores.
of rain that "people in the UK wouldn´t complain about".

Additional photos below
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Place where we went swimming, looking out to the mainland

Cheap street dinner. Comprises of flavoured rice, grated beetroot, guacamole, onion and a slice of boiled egg on a crispy fried tortilla base. They are small so you must eat a load of them.

This parrot bit my ear

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