Last day in Rio Dulce and it was nice and warm. After breakfast (Primal Pantry bar and a sachet of peanut butter), we took a water taxi back to shore, and jumped into a bus for a 3 hour ride to the next stop, Flores. We were only here for one night before moving to out next stop – Belize!
Where am I staying?
Maya Internacional was apparently a five star hotel until half of it was flooded in 2011. Our guide warned us that there may be a strong smell of sewage (!!!) in the hotel. Thankfully this wasn’t the case, bu there was an underlying whiff of sewage in the bathroom. Not nice!
This hotel had a distinctly American feel to it. The dining area and views were beautiful, and so was the sunrise that we managed to catch the next day. The room was basic but clean. I was glad we were only staying here for one night.
- Grubbiness factor = low. Once again, the room was tired but clean.
- Bed = 8/10. Slept really well after the activity we had earlier in the day.
- Shower = 5/10. Good power, good drainage and it has free toiletries – the first on the trip! Low marks because of subtle stench.
What am I eating?
Our guide recommended that we visit the Maya ruins at Yaxha, so order to get there on time, we stopped for lunch at El Muele – a touristy hotel and restaurant. Stunning views! I went for the veggie fajitas that came with frijoles and guacamole. It was just alright, had a feeling of mass production about it.
Not very tasty but edible. The guac was yummy – but when isn’t it? Meh. By the time we got back from the ruins it was pretty late – so we decided to eat in the hotel. I went for spaghetti with an avocado sauce – yep. I’m going to eat avocados wherever and however I can!
Tasty enough, made even more edible with the addition of my new addiction – that Habanero Sauce! We had to leave early the next day to get to the ruins in Tikal. We decided to get ‘breakfast on the go’ – I went for a veggie sandwich, that came with a mixed fruit smoothie, a banana and a sesame cookie. (Forgot to take a pic!). I had the smoothie (like a fruit slushie – yummie:), and the banana to give me the energy to walk around Tikal. I started on my sandwich and remembered that we would be going to the same place for lunch again, so decided to save it for then.
Suitably starving post Tikal, I thought I would play it safe and order a salad back at El Muelle. I’ve been eating veggies, but they have been either cooked or steamed or fried. I just wanted a crunchy salad – and that is exactly what I got. Definitely hit the spot. A mixture of lettuce, radish, carrot, cucumber, tomato, avocado – it was so tasty. Good choice PB, good choice. This restaurant being on the lake meant the fish was good – one girl ordered it and said it was super tasty.
What did I do?
So after we got to Flores and had lunch, we embarked on a 2 hour ride to Yaxha. Yaxha means blue green water. They are the third largest ruins in Guatemala with a rich and varied history, from the pre classic period. (Don’t mess with me – I was clearly listening to the guide!!).
This turned out to be not only cultural but an amazing wildlife walk. We had a very entertaining, passionate guide – Luis, who gave us a lot of history about the ruins – and turned out to be a passionate bird watcher.
Check out all the restrictions – no guns, no onsite excavation site! We also saw birds (including beautiful wild turkeys), howler monkeys (yes, those white things are it’s cojones!)and a BOA CONSTRICTOR. Now, I’ve only ever seen them on TV or in a zoo. This one was out in the wild – and moving!
We climbed up a pyramid (steep stairs – not for the faint hearted or those with dodgy knees) – impressive canopy, but the main pyramid (216) is the one that everyone climbs up for the views. Thank God for small mercies – there was a wooden staircase. Once we got to the top, Luis made everyone (including all the other tourists) zip it and we saw the sunset in silence. Magical. So so worth it – please don’t miss out on checking out these ruin – especially at sunset!
Tikal was just as impressive. Once again, we got a local guide – who had a lot of knowledge about the place, rituals, carvings, layout – but was just a bit dull.
Views were stunning – still thinking which one I loved more – Yaxha or Tikal. Can’t decide. What I loved (and was surprised about) was that neither place was busy – there must have been about 30 people at Yaxha and maybe double at Tikal. It meant you could really get a feel of the place. Start contrast to when I went to Machu Picchu and Angkor Wat!
It was a bit frustrating that with both places, over half of the pyramids are still covered up. Both guides said excavation is expensive, but another reason is the money needed for maintenance – all structures are made primarily out of limestone which means it more susceptible to environmental factors. Tikal is still a magical place,and the main pyramid is awe inspiring.
So I’m done with Guatemala for now – but I will be back in about 2 weeks. Tomorrow – Belize – and hopefully the hot weather I’ve been craving!