Three countries, three buses and two borders and we found ourselves on the island of Flores in Guatemala. We arrived at night time in a deluge of rain and when we finally found our hotel, we were drenched, tired and hungry. Luckily, there was an excellent restaurant opposite the hotel and we enjoyed some delicious food before crashing out.
Apart from having to pay departure tax for leaving both Mexico and Belize, the day had been quite painless. Although there were long lines of traffic entering Mexico, our entry into Belize was a breeze. We had decided not to hang around in the country due to the fact that the accommodation costs there were beyond our backpacking budget. We did, however get a taster on our journey to Belize City and then across the country to the Guatemalan border. Belize City felt decidedly edgy and we had no regrets when our bus showed up and we were safely on our way to Guatemala.
When we awoke on our first morning in Flores, we discovered a peaceful and cute town with beautiful views of the surrounding lake. After breakfast, we went to book the shuttle bus for our trip to the Mayan ruins of Tikal the following day.
For such a small island, there were some great places to eat and drink and during our stay we tried as many as we could. We enjoyed the Flores vibe so much, that we decided to stay a few more days than planned. We felt we needed some chill-out time and there was a lovely terrace at our hotel overlooking the lake. We did discover that it rained (very heavily) most afternoons and found ourselves planning activities accordingly.
Apart from having to tolerate the rather obnoxious guys who ran the shuttle buses (they had the monopoly) we had a incredible day at Tikal. Located twenty miles into the jungle, it felt like a real adventure in relation to previous Mayan ruins that we had visited. We saw spider monkeys, coatis, turkeys, a snake, hummingbirds and toucans. We even thought we heard a jaguar, got a little spooked, and cleared out of the area pretty quickly!
We climbed to the top of Templo IV, the highest construction and when the early morning mist cleared we could see the tops of other monuments poking through the jungle canopy. Tikal is also much larger than many of the other Mayan sites and we walked for miles, often not seeing another person. The jungle was wild and beautiful and Tikal will remain etched on my memory as a very special place.
Back in Flores, we enjoyed a couple more days of relaxation and soon enough it was time to hit the road again.
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