Tikal and Flores

Last weekend I opted to play a bit- which meant joining my housemates for a random jaunt down to Guatemala to visit Flores and Tikal.Somehow, I managed to be the person with both the best Spanish language skills and best sense of direction, which made for a slightly less restful trip than I would have liked.

While crossing the Guatemala border, I received a nasty bite on my right toe from a giant red leafcutter ant (not the scientific term). Yet another reason Chacos are wonderful....when my toe swelled up to nearly twice its original size, I simply could adjust my shoe.

We planned to take the 5AM shuttle to Tikal, in hopes of catching the animals out and about. A brilliant idea, except that as of 4AM there was an intense thunderstorm happening. One of my housemates wakes up, and we question the wisdom of heading off to see a (rather tall) Mayan ruin in the middle of a storm. Stumble to the hostel desk and try to explain to the clerk that we'd like to cancel our shuttle reservation, due to the storm. The clerk tells me this isn't possible, my housemate suggests we try to call the shuttle driver, which we do,but the phone line is dead. Now, this doesn't sound like a big deal, but I'm pretty incoherent when I first wake up, at 4AM is probably my absolute least favorite hour of the day. Trying to speak two languages at this point was more than a little taxing. The other housemates started waking up, and the storm is slowing a bit, so we decide to chance then venture anyway.

Onto the shuttle, and everyone goes back to sleep. About 5:30 the overenthusiastic tourguide starts yelling. He informs us that about to stop at the restaurant where we can get water and sandwiches, and we can take absolutely 15 minutes max. At 6, we get to the site, hordes of tourists descend, and swarm the restaurant in an attempt to get coffee and sandwiches, tourguide barking the entire time. We don't want a guide and do want some breakfast, so finally manage to discover that there's a restaurant across the street that serves real breakfast. I find myself explaining multiple times to my housemates that "mantequilla" is butter, and is not an actual meal. By perhaps a bit before or after 7 we made it into the actual park, and did see several monkeys.

Against my better judgement, I scrambled up a "staircase" more accurately resembling a ladder to the top of Temple V. Was very nearly sick. Manage to get myself down....later discovered (at the top of Temple IV ~230 feet) that it's not nearly so much heights that bother me as it is narrow ledges high up.

Once getting back to the hostel, we had lunch. The one meat-eater in the group complained multiple times to the 3 vegetarians that her burrito was missing the taste of meat (Los Amigos Hostel in Flores has a vegetarian restaurant). Slept much of the afternoon....

Saturday was spent wandering the market in nearby Santa Elena and then swimming in the lake. Between the two days activities, I picked up a moderate sunburn, and opted to spend Sunday in the shade, reading Alice Walker's "We Are the Ones We've Been Waiting For." (Which I may write about at some point). Ironically, the housemates wound up more sunburned than me....

Trip back to Belize was uneventful. Upon arrival we discovered the door to the house unlocked. It seems someone on staff had been around doing laundry (and neglected to return the key to the laundry room). Rather disturbing. Nothing was missing, and appropriate action has been taken to limit weekend access to the house to people who actually live there.


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