|Mojitos on the Lake|
We decided to make it an early morning the day we left San Ignacio in hopes that the border crossing into Guatemala would be less crowded and that the temperature might be a little cooler. We only encountered one problem at the border; they wanted full page copies of our passports and motorcycle title and we had cut our copies in half to conserve paper. They were very insistent, so I watched the bike while Ty ventured in to another “free zone” to find someone with a copy machine. Not surprisingly, there was a guy on the side of the road waiting with a copy machine. We crossed into Guatemala and immediately felt a difference in atmosphere. The temperature dropped at least ten degrees and the scenery became much greener and hillier; we decided it was the first place since the States that we would have chosen to take a ride and not just gone because we had to. Flores was our first destination and we had not heard much about it, except that it was supposedly pretty dangerous. When we pulled into Flores, we laughed; it was one of the most beautiful and tourist-friendly places we had been. There was a very nice little hotel with a dock and a beautiful view of the lake for next to nothing a night, so we unloaded the bike and went to the restaurant next door. We were very pleased with the cheap drink specials, such as two for $2 mojitos and cubetazos (bucket of beers) for $6, the amazing food (best sandwich I have had on the trip,) and the extremely friendly waiter; We probably could have stayed all night but decided we should probably catch up on some sleep.
|The beautiful view from our hotel room|
Our plan was to stay in Flores for just a day so we could see Tikal, but our friends Alex and Tom showed up the next morning and it didn’t take much convincing to change our plans. Everyone was having so much fun in Flores that no one was even interested in checking out Tikal yet. We went for a swim in the lake, consumed more mojitos (I am pretty sure I single-handedly ran our favorite restaurant out of mint,) and caught up with the guys. We decided that we would head over for Tikal in the morning with Tom and Alex and it turned out to be the perfect day for it; cool and cloudy. It didn’t take long to get there and, as we pulled in and drove down the main stretch, I made my first monkey sighting.
I had been waiting the whole trip to see one, so, as you can imagine, I was pretty excited. I shrieked, almost sending Ty off the road. Tikal was completely different from the rest of the ruins we had seen and we both agreed that it was our favorite of the trip. There were still giant, unexcavated mounds all over the place; it made you feel like you were an explorer discovering the ruins for the first time. Climbing to the top of a few of the temples was no picnic, but absolutely worth the effort as the views were outstanding.
|View from the highest temple in Tikal|
Wildlife surrounded us in all directions; we saw monkeys, anteaters, fox and several species of birds, among others. It was also the first location of ruins where we weren’t sweating our butts off, which was a huge perk. After several hours of exploring, we made it to the end of the loop and headed back to Flores. On the road leading out of Tikal we ran into the guys’ Australian friend Charlie, who was also traveling on a motorcycle. He said he was riding with his friend Patrick, from San Francisco, and that they would meet us in Flores. And so it began; the six of us quickly became friends over cubetazos and mojitos and decided we would make the trip west all together. That night, however, Ty’s brother emailed us with some very bad news; his mom was in the ICU at KU Medical Center and we needed to get home as soon as possible. We all decided that we would leave together the next morning and we were glad that we would have the guys along with us.