It’s been minute! The last few days have been busy with activities, new friends, travel, and limited to non-existant wifi.
I was super happy to have met my friend Alex at the hostel in San Ignacio, a fellow female solo traveller who also wanted to be friends. We ended up booking the same hostel in Flores together and we’ve now decided to travel together for the majority of my time left in Guatemala!
On Monday morning, we took a taxi to the Guatemalan border. It was a simple process. First, we encountered the money changers who swarmed us getting out of our taxi. Our rate wasn’t great that they gave us (I think we lost 30%) but we needed to get rid of our Belize dollars and everything is so much cheaper in Guatemala it really didn’t matter. We crossed over into Guatemala and were, again, immediately swarmed by people, this time for a collectivo (mini van bus) to get to Flores. Luckily we had done our research so we were able to get one for a good price (30 quetzals for a 2 hour ride – about $5 canadian). Our bus was filled with locals and provided us with our first preview of the country to come. So far it’s been quite similar in infrastructure to Mexico or even Thailand.
When our collectivo arrived in the city of Peten, we got in a tuk tuk for 5q each for the short ride to our hostel on the island of Flores. At this point Alex and I remarked that we may as well have been in Thailand as so many things we were seeing were similar.
We arrived at our hostel, Los Amigos, which came recommended to me by a woman I met on a snorkelling tour. It was a good thing she did, too, because I would have never booked it otherwise as it’s not on Booking or Hostelworld. It’s a very huge, very neat hostel with a beautiful garden oasis in the middle of it and tons of pets – cats, dogs, kittens, turtles and bunnies to name a few.
After getting organized, we walked around town to find an ATM and get a lay of the (is)land. Flores is a TINY oval-shaped island, accessible by bridge, that you can walk the diameter of in about 7 minutes. We went for coffee and tried not to die in the 35 degree heat. You immediately notice in Guatemala that people barely speak any English so we had some interesting moments asking for directions with our growing, but limited Spanish.
Near sunset, we got in our bathing suits and went to the west side of the island to watch the sun go down. It was so beautiful and locals and foreigners alike were crowded around watching it. The sunset was followed by less-than-$3 tacos and some hanging out in the hostel before a reasonably early night as we had a 3:45am wake up the next morning.
At 4:30 the next morning, our bus picked us up to take us to Tikal. Even though we rode a bus catered to tourists we were still packed in like sardines! We entered Tikal when it opened, at 6:00am, then was led around for 4 hours by our guide. Ancient Mayan history is very fascinating so it is always great to learn more about it. These ruins were GIANT and the steps were about twice as tall as normal stairs to get to the top! It was a sweaty time but the views were worth it.
We left Tikal around 11:00 and went to Jorge’s rope swing in Flores after we got back. It’s this family operated corner on the lake adjacent to the island of Flores, and you get there by bartering with an boat driver you to take you. It was a very fun filled and sunny afternoon at the rope swing! The evening again was followed by very inexpensive tacos from a food cart and they were amazing.
Flores is a lovely, beautiful place with lots to do! I highly recommend a visit if you ever find yourself in this corner of the world.