13 is a lucky Mayan number. At least that’s what I think the guide said at Tikal. I wore thirteen when I played soccer in high school and I spent a lot of time benched or injured but it still felt awesome each time I put on that jersey. I felt dangerous.
The all night bus to Flores wasn’t too bad.We got some kind of mayonnaise sandwich and an orange soda to snack on. Seats were pretty big and comfy. I didn’t even mind the 2 hour break down and did my best to sleep through it until we had to transfer to a working bus.
We got to Flores late but it was enough time to wash up a bit before the shuttle to Tikal arrived. My Spanish was good enough to get us dropped of at the hotel first instead of having to spend an hour at the airport waiting for folks. Little wins like that really help my confidence.
Once we are on the way to Tikal the driver picks up and drops off all sorts of travelers. This is the way folks travel since there is no public transportation. The drivers honk a bit as they get closer to walkers and stand abouts to see if they need rides. If they get a wave they’ll pull over and negotiate the fare. The offered fare is much higher for gabachos.
I think it was about an hour and a half into Tikal. It goes by quickly as we chat with the other tourists. You meet the loveliest people when traveling.
Tikal was amazing but I was a bit disappointed because I did not feel any buzzing. Everyone seemed exhilarated from touching the rock structures but it just felt like rock to me. The only exhilaration I got was from standing atop the highest structure and gazing across the jungle canopy to see the tops of the other temples. Every time anyone got close to the edge I had to look down and close my eyes because it made my head swim. There are no safety measures like you would find in American attractions and every forth guy seems to want to get right up to the edge to scare his family or mates. I’m happy to get down and head the the next reasonably sized ancient structure.
The day is terribly hot and humid. We run through agua pura voraciously but still feel heat stroky and the guide seems less than impressed with the groups pace. We keep stopping to gawk at monkeys and any other signs of animalia. He tells us that he knows plants that could kill a person in 20 minutes and authorities would not be able to trace the origin of the unfortunate’s demise. I’m not sure if this is bragging or a threat regarding lunch. When it is finally lunch time he breaks the group in half and stays with the first bunch so we are safe.
After Tikal we are joyous for the hotel pool from which you also get a lovely view of the lake that surrounds Flores. Another happy coincidence is that the pool is shared by a pair of married American physicians who have a practice in Mexico. They refer us to just the doctor we are looking for which was a big component of this trip and the reason I have been learning Spanish with determination. I’m so glad my intuition or insanity was correct in its message.
We had a whole day to explore Flores and spent most of it meeting other travelers, picking through stores, and seeing the local sights. You really do meet amazing people on these trips. We took a boat out to a little beach and swam for a bit in the warm water surrounded by little fish.
The bus back to Guatemala City was scheduled to leave around 10 and we headed there around 8 to try to upgrade to the better bus. No luck on that and it was unfortunate because the difference in comfort is extreme. We didn’t get much sleep so when the hostel picked us up from the station and brought us to our room we crashed out for 4 hours.
We did manage to explore a small corner of the city and find food but the cities reputation made is very cautious. No need to throw caution into he wind so close to leaving. The hostel crowd was a bit young for us except for this solitary crazy American. He had all sorts of random stuff with him that looked like it should be in a yard on the show Pickers. You see a few different kinds of travelers in general; the short timers who have a week off, the 20 somethings who are here trying to save the world, and the crazy homeless looking guys who are completely divorced from reality and happy for it.
I’m ready for home. The sun has risen at the airport and my plane for Mexico City will be boarding soon. Goodbye Guatemala take care. It’s a wild world and we are just children in it.