After our stay in Lanquin at Zephyr, we had started to acclimatise to the heat that Guatemala was throwing at us. It was time for our next challenge, to head north into the lowlands of Peten, the main draw card being the small island town of Flores and the ancient Mayan ruins at Tikal.
The trip north took 9 hours by shuttle, luckily we had managed to grab hold of the front seats which made the ride much easier. We passed through a pretty diverse set of landscapes, starting off in the hill / farm country around Lanquin, then into more mountainous territory, before dropping right down onto the low lands which are used to grow all kinds of produce. We certainly noticed a difference in the people as we headed north too, plenty more cowboy hats and boots – definitely farming country. One of the crazier parts of the trip was the short journey across a river, the van pulled onto a car ferry that was powered by a boat motor attached to a circular drum on the side of the barge – interesting approach but it seemed to work (see photo below)
There was no doubt things had heated up by the time we got to Flores. We’d checked into Los Amigos (another backpacker ridden hostel) and within 5 seconds of being in our room we had our fan blowing full speed and we were sweating up a storm! Cold showers helped to ease the temperature a bit, enough for us to peel ourselves away from the fan and head out with the kiwi’s for a final dinner before we all went our separate ways.
Flores is a small island in the middle of Lago De Peten Itza, it’s connected by a 200m road to the mainland and town of Santa Elena. It’s certainly got a completely different feel to other places in Guatemala, it’s relatively relaxed, easy to get around (you can walk the circumference of the island in about 20 mins). When we weren’t checking out the ruins at Tikal, we spent our time hanging out on the docks around the lake – swimming, reading books and soaking up the sun.
On the western side of the island, overlooking the circular road and the lake are a line of restaurants and bars that serve up cold drinks, food but best of all a great view of the setting sun. Cel and I had heard about an Italian joint that served up pitchers (jugs) of Mojito, El Terrazo. It only took us about 2 minutes to find the place, order a jug and find a prime position on the second floor to watch the sun set over the lake.
Our final night in Flores was spent with another couple we’d met up with, Simon and Bec (kiwi and American couple). We managed to bump into them just as they’d finished eating local snacks at a lakeside market, They told us the food was good and cheap, so we didn’t need any more convincing. The makeshift restaurants (just a table under a gazebo and a couple of plastic chairs) served up Tostadas (round, thin crispy tortillas) with you choice of topping on them. We got a couple of meat ones, guacamole and noodle salsa. They came in at a grand total of 20Q – $3NZ for 6. A bit of chocolate cake for me too and we were happily fed.