Hola from Guatemala
pics to follow..
By going to the office I was definitely on the shuttle which went via Antigua to Guatemala city. I have to say the capital looks a rather scary place at night, there’s hardly anyone on the streets. I upgraded my bus ticket to get a slighty better seat and then settled in for the night. Narnia the film did the trick, I was asleep immediately and woke up at 1am and then again at 4am when we had to get off so the fruit police could search the bus…and you think I’m joking. Of course, we could have got away with some secretly concealed apples or arms for that matter as our bag search involved just a slight squeeze. At 6am we arrived in Flores. Flores is a little island with a bridge that connects to Saint Helena (not so nice). It feels very safe and has lots of cobbled streets and colourful buildings. I headed straight to Los Amigos (the hostel), although the door was locked I could see that I’d be able to get in soon so waited in the street. Sure enough I was eventually let in and had a fab breakfast whilst waiting for a room to come available. Overnight bus journeys seem to take it out of me (or am I just thinking about home and not feeling verty sociable at the moment ??) so opted for the room over the dorm, sometimes it’s just nice to have your own space – must be thinking about home then. Los Amigos is a fab hostel, great food, very sociable and would highly recommend. The main reason people come here is to do Tikal. You can also stay at Tikal or El Remate but as the weather is still looking iffy I’ve decided here is a better bet. Today is all about relaxation and I think I’ll go to the ruins tomorrow because, yes, guess what it’s raining !!
The next morning I’d opted not to do the 3am sunrise tour, mainly because I’ve heard at this time of year it’s misty and you don’t get one. So I leave to catch the 7am bus to the ruins. This does not appear. In fact when I asked for the second time what time the bus would be arriving the man went in to the back office to go to sleep – I have to say I haven’t found the Guatemalans that endearing !! If he’d have just said sorry it’s not coming, I’d have gone for some breakfast. In the end it turned up at 8.20am. I got chatting to a Scottish guy and after a very knowledgable introduction from a guide, 5 of us decided to do the tour with him. His name is Caesar and I said I’d plug his company on the blog – it’s “Little Caesar’s travels” and worth every penny, so there you go.
We bought our tickets and were immediately shown a dead tarantula. It had been stung by one of those huge Tarantula Hawk Wasps and hadn’t made it back to the nest before it had died. It was still completely intact and thank goodness they’d told me it was dead before I saw it, my snake phobia has been cured the spider one still needs some work !! After that we saw some great Weaver bird nests which are really long and made of a straw like substance. Then we passed a whole load of Howler monkeys, who didn’t seem to be hiding as much as usual. Oh well on to the ruins…..
Tikal is set in the midst of jungle. Several thousand Mayans lived there even though we weren’t really sure how they survived on so little water. They definitely had a caste system in place with slaves having to build some of the incredible structures, which included narrow passage ways so the rulers could see what everyone was doing. Every block of stone seemed to be exactly the same size. We walked through to the main area and got to climb some of the pyramids, conveniently now fitted with wooden staircases. They are huge. After studing some further structures which have been left as is so you can get more of an idea of how the site would look now if there had been no renovations it was time to go to Temple IV. On the way we got to see some local birds, I think it’s the nature here that makes this place special.
Temple IV is a 70 metre climb. We said goodbye to Caesar and then the heavens opened. We waited for a bit and then made our way up the steps. Okay now I’m not in to sci-fi but I am a bit of a Star Wars fan. At the top is the view of the scene from the 4th film where they are leaving the rebel base (or that’s what the boys told me). The view across the valleys was spectacular, and the best bit of the day for me. Apparently Apocalypto was filmed here to, which is one of the first films I intend to rent when I get home. We did of course get absolutely soaked so a week earlier than I thought I am leaving Guatemala.
My highlights here were Tikal, Pocaya and I did like Xela, but overall I have to say I’ve been rather underwhelmed with Guatemala. In fact I cannot wait to get back to Mexico and I think I’m going to catch up with Lucy who I last saw in Nicaragua. For me there’s just been too many gringos, not the friendliest of locals and too much rain. I think for my last 9 days I need fun, fun and more fun, after all I have had the odd adventure along the way. Guatemala – sorry but for me you’re down there with Cambodia and Chile.
Plane = 26, Bus = 125, Train = 2, Boat =22, Sunglasses = 9, Mosquito Repellant = 11, Books Read = 35 1/2, Bags lost and then recovered = 2.
Take care all