Guatemala – Flores and Tikal, 19 September 2010

The day started bad. There was supposed to be a 6 am pickup to Tikal, but that never showed up. It showed up at 7 am with no apologies. Hmm, here, I have to digress a little. I bought my minivan ticket to Tikal with a company that is affiliated with the one that transported me from Belize to Guatemala. The guy used pressure tactics to make me buy, saying stuff like it was the best price, and that the office closes on a Sunday. Well, when the minivan drove by the bus company’s office, the guy who sold me the ticket (at a high price) was sitting there, and the office was open. Perhaps shopping around is a much better idea.

Tikal was nestled in the jungle. It took 30 mins of walking before I sawn any of the ruins. But walking in the morning was cooling, and it was empty. I got to enjoy the place myself. These are some very impressive megaliths, and I believe they were the backdrop of one of the Starwars movies. I am sure diehard fans will know which.

After some three hours of walking, I was tired, and could not deal with any more climbing. Also, crowds were starting to thicken, so good that I was planning my escape about then.

I went back to Flores, and tried their local version of KFC – Campero Fried Chicken. It was pretty ok, albeit pricey, and it is set up to be a family place. I spent the afternoon watching locals fish in Lake Flores, before boarding the bus for another 12 hour journey.

Humongous Spider (?) Tree

Tikal – it was getting crowded. Was emptier in the morning, but I didn’t notice the stairs. Note the Mayans on the ground?

Campero Fried Chicken

A Lazy Flores Weekend Evening


Belize to Guatemala – Caye Caulker, Belize City, Flores, 18 September 2010

Another long journey today that involved moving from Caye Caulker to Flores, so it was boat and bus. That boat ticket was fairly simple – I showed up at the Belize Water Taxi stand, paid up, and boarded the water taxi (btw, if you buy it on the spot, it is cheaper by a little bit).

After arriving at the water taxi station in Belize City, I went to get a bus ticket. Central America really isn’t my territory; or perhaps I should do more research in the future. Seeing the sign “Fixed Price”, I stupidly didn’t negotiation, and paid the full price of about 13 USD for a ticket to Flores, Guatemala. I later learned that the price is actually negotiable.

With some time left, I just ventured out of the bus/water taxi station for a bit. Seems like those little shacks are typical of small businesses in Belize. Belize City seemed a little … scary. In the shops around town, it seems that the standard practice was to have a metal grille to separate the owner from the customers. Not a very comforting sight. Also spotted an Orioles fan! Saw even more Chinese, and made productive use of the rest of my time by writing and sending out postcards, given that the post office was just across the street. (the only batch of postcards from the Central America trip that arrived in their intended destination so far)

The journey to Flores, Guatemala was pretty uneventful. Along the way, I noticed even more grocery shops and supermarts that were run by Chinese. Seems like the Chinese have a monopoly of this! Also, I spotted a couple of Mormons cycling along the road. If someone gave me a quarter for every Mormon I spotted, I would have enough quarters for quite a few cycles of laundry!

Journey through the border was fairly easy-peasy, though it involved some costs. There is a departure tax of sorts for those leaving Belize, which was less than 10 USD, I think. After crossing the border, there was another surcharge of less than 5 USD for the Guatemala immigration.

Flores seems to be quite charming. It is on a lake, and the houses are of different rich colours like red and yellow. Very pleasing to the eyes!

I stayed at Hotel Casazul, which was highly rated on Tripadvisor. It was nice and big, and probably more appropriate for like 3 people than just me. But I would also suggest checking out its neighbors – they are cheaper, and have swimming pools. It was about 40 USD for a single.

Belize City, Empty at 8am

Belize Library

Chinese Supermart

First impression of Flores

Hotel Casazul – blue is the theme.

Upcoming: Mexico-Belize-Guatemala, 11-25 September 2010

Tentative Itinerary:

11 September 2010: Cancun

12 September 2010: Cancun – Chichen Itza – Cancun (bus)

13 September 2010: Cancun

14 September 2010: Cancun – Playa Del Carmen (bus)

15 September 2010: Playa Del Carmen – Tulum – Playa Del Carmen (bus)

16 September 2010: Playa Del Carmen – Chetzumal – San Pedro Town (bus, ferry)

17 September 2010: San Pedro Town – Caye Caulker (ferry)

18 September 2010: Caye Caulker – Belize City – Flores (ferry, bus)

19 September 2010: Fores – Tikal – Flores (bus)

20 September 2010: Flores – Guatemala City  – Antigua (bus)

21 September 2010: Antigua

22 September 2010: Antigua

23 September 2010: Antigua – Guatemala City (shuttle)

24 September: Guatemala City

25 September: Guatemala City – Houston (plane)