Tuesday, January 19, 2010

San Ignacio, Belize To Flores Guatemala

Rob developed a small chest cold yesterday afternoon and we werent sure if we were going to travel today but after resting all evening and a good sleep last night, he woke up this morning ready to move on.

It was such an interesting travel day. On our way out of town, we stopped and said goodbye to some of our new friends, then we took a small detour to the highly recommended french bakery for a cheese croissant and a donut and we caught a cab for the border. It was overcast with a haze over the tops of the hills which was just beautiful. The cab was stopped at a little checkpoint where they gave the driver a hard time about his brakes..great... and then we kept going to the border. It was an easy border crossing and before we knew it we were in Guatemala.

Thankfully, the guidebook warned us that the cab drivers would try to take advantage of us and they sure did try. They were offering rides for up to $100US but we found a collectivo (a small van) which took us all the way to Flores, which was around a 2 hour ride. It was pretty packed but I found the ride really interesting. When we first got on there was a family with 3 charming little boys. The oldest kept his little brothers busy playing with some rubber bands. The kids were enthralled by his 2 tricks that he kept doing over and over...it was so refreshing. We stopped a few times, letting people on and off. The landscape here is beautiful. We saw tons of horses and cows. As a matter of fact, at one point, there was a gorgeous horse just standing in the middle of the road. A few minutes later, there was a dog just sitting in the middle of the road....no big deal, we just went around them. We saw men carrying huge stacks of wood on their backs.

We finally arrived in Flores which is a small island on a beautiful lake connected to the shore by a small causeway. The town is small and quiet but obviously a big tourist spot. As far as we can tell, it is just small hotels, restaurants and shops. We looked at a few hotels recommended by the guidebook and finally chose one for $15 a night with a view of the lake, AC (which I dont think we will need), a bathroom with hot water and a Tv (which we hope has cable). On the top floor is a lovely hang out spot (where I am sitting now) with a great view and some hammocks.

The island is tiny and we walked it in around 30 minutes. There are these cute little tuktuks that take people around and I really want to take one. The island is so small that I dont really see the point but I think we will need to run to the town just off the island to hit an ATM so that might be a good excuse. I'll post some pictures when I have an opportunity.

Communication is a challenge with our terrible Spanish which has us even more motivated to get to Xela for some Spanish classes. The money is even more challenging. Belize has us really spoiled with its English speakers and easy 2 to 1 money conversion. In Guatemala its $7.5 Quetzels to $1. We know that things are cheap but we had to think twice when our lunch bill came to $95 (under $13 for a huge bottle of water, a coke and 2 huge plates of chicken tacos).

I think that we will take it easy tomorrow and maybe hire a boat (launcha) to take us around the lake and then we will go to Tikal the following day.

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