Blogs from Flores, Petén Region, Guatemala, Central America Caribbean

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On Tuesday 5 we left Guatemala City and headed for the island of Flores several hundred miles north east. We had booked a first class coach for 10am, first class here consists of padded leather seats which can recline, a toilet which was pretty grim and air conditioning that wasn't very strong but at least it was pretty comfortable. The journey to Flores should have taken 9 hours according to our ticket (arrival should have been at 7pm) but unfortunately it took a lot longer than this - 3 hours longer to be exact. There were a number of reason for the delay - the coach stopped at regular intervals at the side of the road for no apparent reason, the coach stopped off for petrol only to stop just 10 minutes later at another petrol ... read more
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First stop Guatamala- Flores- to see the unbelievable Tikal ruins. The journey there was all the way from Caye Caulker via public transport, it was fairly straight forward as I have done a lot of travelling on the "chicken buses" ie puboic buses of Belize, but coming in to a Spanishe speaking country was a bit of a culture shock, as well as actually walking across the border! Flores is almost an island in the middle of a lake in northern Guatemala. It is pretty, with cobbeled little streets and a European type feel as oppose to any other town in Belize. It is attached via a causeway to the main. Town of Santa Elena, which is the opposite to Flores and s busy and contains no tourists. I arrived there and met a lot of ... read more
Central Plaza
Me and the ruins
Flores from the viewpoint


GUATEMALA, here we come! 01/01/15 GELUKKIG NIEUWJAAR IEDEREEN! Goeiemorgen, 7u30 open ritsen die tent. Het blijft een zalig zicht, wat een playa! Toch een uur of drie geslapen in die veel te kleine tent. Wat mij betreft een gedroomde oudejaarsnacht! Geen dure party van 60 -100 dolar op het strand maar een simpele maaltijd en gewoon de hele nacht jammen/zingen rond een vuurtje op het strand. Ergens een man of twintig. Brazilianen, Argentijnen, Mexicanen, Fransen, nen simpele Belg, een Amerikaan die "miljaardedju " ferm zot kon spelen. Het leukste was de verschillende muzikale invloeden. Is er hier eigenlijk iemand die geen gitaar speelt of zingt? " Buzze" maken, een laatste zwemke in de prachtige Caribische zee en op weg naar Chetumal ( grens Belize). Mijn poging tot liften op 1 januari mag ik wel vergeten, volgens ... read more
Het busje
Belize
Belize


Our Arrival The bus from Rio Dulce dropped us off in Santa Elena which is the town on the other side of the bridge from Flores island. The bus station was too far down to walk to Flores with our backpacks and the bus was met by taxi drivers. The first driver quoted us Q20 each which we rejected and walked outside the terminal. There a driver offered Q15 for the two of us which we agreed to. Where We Stayed Hotel Aurora - on Calle Union. Q125 for a double room with bathroom and TV. The place had internet, a roof top terrace, laundry sink and clothes lines and a small kitchen but no fridge. Rooms upstairs with views of the lake were more expensive. You could buy water refils however it was empty more ... read more


Guatemala was my first chance to pause after a couple of months of consistent travel up from Panama (oh the woes of the modern traveller!). I headed straight for its second city, Xela, partly because it was the gateway to a two day climb of Central America's highest peak and partly because the language schools were so incredibly cheap. I enrolled with Utatlan, where USD 155 got me 20 hours of private tuition, 7 days living with a family less than 10 minutes walk from the school, and 3 meals a day with the family! It was incredible value, given that by the time I'm next in London I'm sure a round of 4 pints will probably cost about the same!! For the real penny pinchers, I saw the same package offered with some of the ... read more
Early stage of the sunrise on the walk to the Tajumulco summit
View from the roof of Central America
Lago Atitlan - just before the clouds rolled in!!!


Flores is a small beautiful island on Lago Peten Izta which you can access from Santa Elena. It didn't seem like there was a huge amount to do here apart from chill out, go for a swim in the lake, or kayaking. After a long 13 hour bus journey the day before, I decided that I wanted to take it easy and not wake up too early. Because I had extra time in bed to catch up on lost sleep, I decided that I would like to do kayaking for an hour or two in the afternoon and then do the group plan in the evening which involved drinking alcohol, chilling and watching the sunset. As I planned to go kayaking in the afternoon I had some spare time in the morning, so I walked over ... read more
View from my hotel
Me kayaking
SAM_0197


After eating our last breakfast burritos, we boarded the 8.30amboat to belize city. The boat was half an hour late and arrived near 10. We met up with the driver of the shuttle we had bought tickets for and were surprise to find we were the only ones on board. We stretched out in the old van and tried to sleep the 6 hour bumpy ride through country side and dirt roads. The driver stopped a few times for personal errands such as picking up bananas from a market and bulk supply of milk which he delivered at the border. We arrived at the border just after lunch time and payed our legit exit fee of belize. We then proceeded to enter Guatemala. We went up to the desk to have our passport stamped being warned ... read more
Flores
Carey and I on top of the world
Look familiar? Scene from Star Wars.


With reciepts for every part of my five day tour in my hand I get on a tourist shuttle bus (minibus) at 5am for the journey to Lanquin. I was going to stay at El Retiro Lodge. I arrived at 4pm and they did not have a bed even though it had been booked in advance but they did offer me a hammock and some blankets and showed me the ladder up above reception so I could see the hammock swinging from the rafters. I decided against the hammock option and went with some Chilian travellors (who also had no luck getting beds that night) back down the hill into the town of Lanquin and found a nice little hotel with private room for almost the same price as the hammock. I had to be back ... read more
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View from bus on journey from Lanquin to Rio Dulce
Terripins sunning themselves, Rio Dulce


After a 4-5 hour bus ride, we arrived in Flores (Flore-ess). Well just outside of Flores which is an island connected to the mainland by a 600m causeway. The mob of taxi drivers awaiting our custom informed us it was a 3km walk to the island, they seemed surprised when we said we would walk, it turned out to be about 1.5km. We ended up in a small but clean hotel room, at $60 US, one of our more expensive rooms, but the hotel had a pool which was a bonus. Flores is the gateway to the Mayan archeological site, Tikal. An early morning start the next day and we were on our way out. The archeological site is impressive, it is set in lush deep rainforest, populated by wild animals; we saw deer, monkey, a ... read more
Cuba Libres
Muscle People!
Tikal


We hope everyone at home had an amazing Christmas. It was great to speak to those of you who we could get hold off and apologies to anyone we couldn´t. The technology on Caye Caulker was not so great so we tried our best. Christmas was lovely. We went to the beach, had a piggy breakfast and lunch and then went to a barbecue Christmas dinner party at night (we still had turkey and cranberry sauce!) On boxing day we did a full day snorkelling trip. We got to snorkel along the second largest coral reef in the world. We swam with sharks (I touched one) Stingrays (we all touched one) and sea turtles (super cute) Rum Punch was included and Mark and I made sure we got good value for money and both ended up ... read more
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