Guatemala, Day 10: Flores island
“Terminal! Flores!” This shout woke me up all of a sudden! I slept so well I didn’t even notice anything as we traveled for about 12 hours. Good times! It’s was 8 in the morning and my 2 Indian-American friends were supposed to carry on further to Tikal, to some kind of luxury hotel or something, I asked the locals what else we could visit there, he said “Apart from the Maya sanctuary and the hotels, there is nothing around for miles.”
I decided to stay in Flores island. I knew from the start there was not really much to do there but it was human-scaled, cozy and pretty. I immediately found a hotel with indoor swimming-pool for $12 a night, but I had to wait for the 12:00 check-in. To kill some time I took a shower, I walked around nearby, I left my dirty laundry at the cleaners, I took a nice tasty breakfast and I found a tour agency! I asked millions of questions about the Maya site and long story short, the guy explained that the 2 main sites were Tikal: one of the world oldest Maya sites and the most monumental, about an hour from Flores, you can either go in the morning or afternoon.
It was highly recommended to go there in the morning because there were too many tourists in the afternoon, the wet heat was sky high and you have to walk through the jungle to go from one Maya temple to another. The place is supposed to be infested with mosquitoes. The entry is 150 Quetzals (about $20) and if I wanted to take part in the sun rise Sanctuary opening it was another 100 Quetzals (about $13). If it was like the “Indian peak” sunrise, I thought it would be worth it! So I paid for both. The guy also told me about Yaxha, a great Mayan City by an enormous lake located about an hour and a half from Flores. I was told it was possible to visit the place in the morning but it the entrance fee is about $100 since it’s for private companies only and we could visit also in the afternoon starting at 1 pm. I thought that I was going to check Tikal first, if it is worth it I will go to Yaxha. The guy also told me tons about a secret Maya city lost in the jungle called “El Mirador” but there was no road to reach this place. We needed guides and donkeys to carry our bags and spend 5 days in the jungle, return journey and they provide food and camping equipment. I had some devils at the back of my head: some dark flashbacks from the Corcovado jungle, in Costa Rica (read my articles about Costa Rica) a 3 day traumatic excursion… But imagine this! Walking 5 days in the wild with no toilet, no shower, armies of mosquitoes… As I didn’t really seem convinced, the guy showed me a Youtube video. It was indeed very beautiful and it reminded me of one of those Indiana Jones movies, but the tourists looked happy. This really seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity, so I really needed to think about it!
I told the guy I would come back to let him know. The room was still not ready, so I decided to go on a boat tour for 300 quetzals (about $40… This time I got screwed…) to visit Flores islands. The boat guide took me to the Petencito Animal Reserve. I was 20 Quetzals for the entrance and I saw all sorts of animals: boars, parrots, eagles, crocs, deers etc.. I crossed the bridge and went deep into park to see other animals and lose myself in this beautiful nature. On top of a hill, I had a great view over Flores island which looked so tiny! I took great pictures!
Finally, the boat guy took me to “El Mirador Del Rey Canek”, again great spot where I had a beautiful view over the lake and the island. Then, we sailed around a private island which “belongs to a millionaire” as he said. To finish, we visited “La Isla de las iguanas” a protected area for iguanas. There were hundreds of them all sizes and shape. We then got back to Flores island. To be honest, some people will say $40 is not much for this tour, but I can tell you that with $40 in Guatemala you can do a lot. Trust me. I should have negotiated straight with the boat guide instead of asking the Hotel. Who knows? I’m the gringo after all. Tomorrow will be time for Tikal adventures! Yes!