Tikal and Flores21/04/2012
After a wonderful weeks diving in Honduras we were back on the Guatemala transport system. As always it was efficient, easy to follow and really uncomfortable. 5 hours on a crowded bus with no seat was not my idea of luxury travel but it got us from Puerto Barrios, near the boarder with Honduras, to Flores in time to keep moving and get all the way to Tikal on one day.
That night we used our tent for the last time. It is sad to say goodbye to it as we have stayed in some amazing places thanks to our wonderful blue tent, but it is also very heavy to carry and we just don't need it any more. If anyone wants to see it, we sold it to a the Jaguar Inn hotel at Tikal. The next morning we got up early and were one of the first through the gates (other then those who paid extra to be there for sunrise) and into the enormous complex that is the Tikal site.
According to the trusty guide book, "The central area of the city occupied about 16 sq km with more than 4000 structures" (end quote from Lonely Planet Guatemala 3rd Edition September 2007). I don't know about the size of the original city, or the exact "structure" count, but it an impressive site, completely consumed by the jungle other then where it has been deliberately cleared for us tourists to walk around and see the amazing temples. Everyone who we have spoken to talks about the view from Temple IV so we headed there first. This is where the guides take you if go for the sunrise option but given the jungle and recent rain storms even 2 hours after sunrise, the mist and cloud was still blocked the view when we first arrived at the top. However we spent a while patiently waiting with a few other early birds, and gradually cleared to reveal the tops of a number of the temples in the site, all peaking above the tree tops. This view is used in a scene in star wars (clearly I had to be told that, that is not something I would have known on my own I confess), and no wonder as it does look very "other worldly".
After quite some time enjoying the peace and view of Temple IV, and chatting to other tourists we set off to find the other temples. Walking between the trees in the thick jungle suddenly there would be an enormous temple in front of us, as if from now where. They have been beautifully restored but leaving a sense of what they looked like when they first discovered, all covered in jungle and looking more like a random hill then a massive man made temple.
Having had our fill of exploring we headed back to Flores, an Island in Lago de Peten Itza. We orginally intended just to stay here one night before crossing the border back to Mexico, but it turned out Flores was just a lovely as people had told us it was and we stayed for two nights, spending the swimming in the lake, relaxing in the bars and enjoying a quiet beer and game of chess on our balcony watching sky change in the sun set (sadly we were facing East but the colours were still great). A beautiful and peaceful way to end our time in Guatemala, before our 5am bone-shaker to the border and back into Mexico.