Guatemala is home to 2 mountain ranges, a multitude of rivers, tropical jungles, lakes and 33 volcanoes (3 still active). The country offers a rich and distinctive culture due to a millennium of Mayan civilization and 3 centuries of Spanish colonial rule. Along with the diverse history, the economy, politics, crafts, architecture, natural beauty of the land, languages and religions, Guatemala is a rich destination to discover.
After 4 hours on a bus driving through coastal plains and rolling limestone plateau, we arrived to the beautiful island of Flores.
We settled in at la Casa Lacandon located right in front of the Peten Itza Lake. $12US a night gave us 2 beds, private bathroom with shower and a lake view. The balcony enveloped by flowers and climbing plants was a great rest area to share travel tips and stories amongst fellow travellers.
Flores is a very small and quiet island situated on Lake Peten Itza. Geared towards tourists that come to visit Tikal, it is a peaceful stop to make before exploring the Mayan ruins.
We wandered around the charming cobbled-stone streets and colourful alleys in search of souvenirs to bring home. There are plenty of handy-craft stores to be found, full of local hard-wood carvings, colorful blankets, paintings and kitnats arts. Julie chose to bring back to the Canadian North a blanket, a hammock and 2 ponchos. I got myself a stone carved Mayan calendar and 2 seed-carved pipes.
We continued our walk around the island, getting lost in the narrow streets, stumbling upon red-roofed buildings, a historic church and a Spanish plaza. For lunch, you can choose from many restaurants offering international or Guatemalan cuisine. We opted for a local eatery and said ”hell yes” to the special of the day having no clue what we just ordered. On the table came 2 full plates of what seemed to be an egg crepe filled with meat, veggies, beans and cheese topped with a home-made tomato sauce and served with some rice. Oh deliciousness!
At night, we sat back and relaxed at El Thelmo, a little cozy terrasse facing the lake. Sipping on refreshing mojitos and devouring a massive vegetarian sandwich, we contemplated at the sun setting over the lake. We glimpsed at lovers romancing on a bench and sighted an old man watching the time pass by.
4am. The town was asleep and darkness covered the streets. No sunrise to wake up to, just the voice of our tour guide yelling ”Tikal” at the bottom of our balcony. Slipped on walking shoes and rain jacket and we hopped on our bus to visit the most spectacular ruins in Guatemala.
We travelled back in pre-Columbian time, somewhere from the 6th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D. We wandered around the archeological remains of the Maya civilization, learnt about their culture and admired temples and palaces. Toucans and spider monkeys curiously followed our steps through the jungle while howler monkeys growlled as the sun rose. I felt like it was already noon as the sun provided an abundance of heat and light, but it was only 8! Tikal is a scenic site in Guatemala that is surely not to be missed.
On our last day in Flores, we decided to take it easy. We snacked on boiled eggs for breakfast, feet hanging above the water on the dock admiring the view of the lake while locals splished and splashed to cool off the morning heat. As the day went by, we snapped some more pictures and embraced the ambiance of beautiful Flores. In the evening, we embarked an old wooden craft and rowed ourselves across the lake. We were the entertaining sight of 2 girls in pink and red dresses attacking waves on an unstable boat in a middle of a big lake. It was the local’s turns to take their phone out and take pictures of us with a laugh.
It was 9:30pm when our taxi arrived. We were all packed up and ready for departure. Direction El Salvador!