Buenos dias my friends! Isn’t it crazy? The first month of 2018 is almost over. Time flies so fast, not sure if it’s just me? What do you think – did January pass by fast or slow? Leave a comment below and let me know what you think!
Almost two weeks ago I left beautiful Belize the cute little country located on the caribbean coast of Centro Americano. Leaving Belize was very convenient, the collectivo (old American School Bus) dropped me straight in front of the border to Guatemala. New country, new habits: right after I passed the border nobody spoke english anymore. Damn, so I made best use of my spanish skills and asked around for possibilities to go to Flores – my first stop in Guatemala. Talking to all those taxi drivers, other locals and travelers made me forget about one very important thing: getting my passport stamped to immigrate in Guatemala. You might not Belize believe it, but chances are that you just walk past the immigration without even showing your passport! It looks like a tourist information 😀 (and I always avoid them)
I met two older canadian ladies at the border and it turned out we’re going the same direction. Those two mid-aged chicas got really excited about the offer from this taxi driver: only $30 Dollars for 1 1/2h drive to Flores. Haha, that’s funny. I told them it’s not even $5 by collectivo, which departs around 50m from the immigration office. As I turned down the taxi drivers offer he knew that I know about the cheaper option and got a bit mad at me. Lo siento mucho, amigo!
My travel buddies turned out to be as smart as bait: they showed off with their iPads, Smartphones and cash. In the middle of the bus terminal. I am sure there’s a village in Canada missing its idiots. Well, after a two hours ride through Guatemalas hinterland we finally arrived in Flores. This small island is the perfect gateway to Tikal – a famous mayan temple complex. As I arrived at my hostel people asked me if I’d like to join a trip to see the sunrise on the top of a temple. Sí, claro – I’m in! But first of all some food. The lovely lady at the reception shared her secret of good food in Flores. Not even five minutes later I found myself at a hidden food stall located next to the sea and ordered a bunch of delicious burritos. Muy rico. Just can’t get over the local cuisine here!
Before I went to bed I had to go and get a ticket for the temple. The only place where you could buy an official one is a bank. Cashed up with Q250 I made my way to the bank. There was a long queue. And security guys with shotguns. Before you can enter the branch you get bodysearched (for guns etc.) – the guy right before me was refused to enter and the security threw him out after he patted him down. Glad I didn’t bring my gun!
Next day 3am – departure for sunrise at Tikal! Super early, but also super excited. As we arrived our guide told us to be aware of the wildlife here, especially snakes. According to him, the most venomous snakes are around here in the jungle. Not even five minutes later we found one of them right in front of us on the ground. “It’s very dangerous, the venom could kill you straight away” said the guide and poked the snake with a wooden stick. I stepped back, everybody else pointed their GoPros towards the snake. Of course it got a bit aggressive and everybody got afraid, a few people were about to cry (?!). That’s wildlife guys, just leave it alone.
As we climbed the temple it was completely dark. We waited for the sunrise and for the jungle to wake up. It was incredible. It got brighter and brighter, we heard Howler Monkeys screaming in the distance and saw bats flying around. The smell of the temples limestone mixed with the jungles scent added up to a unique mysterious experience. Unfortunately the sky was overcasted, so there was no proper sunrise. After this deep and relaxing moment we strolled through the once populated mayan residence. Tucans, Monkeys and Tarantuals were just a few sights besides the ancient temples.
My next place of interest was Semuc Champey. It’s a waterfall in the middle of the Jungle, which is eight hours away from Flores. The ride was super uncomfortable as the so-called streets are more dirt roads. It took us more than two hours for the last 50km. Safety is also not a high priority in the wild no-mans-land in Guatemala…
My stay at a Economy Hotel right next to the National Park was a great experience. The owner, an Israeli guy, cooked the best food for us and provided us with a lot of informations. “As we are in the middle of the jungle, there’s no electricity after midnight and hot water is also restricted since we have to boil it over fire. The WiFi signal is also not that good – so talk to each other!” Comprende, Sir! I really liked the hotels concept of and also the surrounding, check this out:
What really astonished me is the fact that people which have to deal with money (ticket warden at the waterfalls, food vendor in the mountains) are accompanied by armed securities with shotguns. It’s a bit frightening… On the other hand people are so friendly and open, as we hiked around the cocoa plantages people talked to us and offered chocolate to eat (and also tendered to buy their land :D)
After a couple of laidback days I recharged my batteries (not only for the camera) and was ready for the vibrant old capital of Guatemala – Antigua. It’s well known for good food, coffee and of course: Volcano hiking! My choice was Acatenango. This old volcano provides the best view onto Fuego, a very active volcano just next to it. Here some facts about the tour: 7h hiking, 4000m altitude, one over night stop, you have to carry food and water (>6L) by yourself. Trust me, this trip was super demanding. At the same time so rewarding, the feeling you get when you reach the summit can not be described with words. One more thing to add – it was cold. Super cold.
Full of dirt, sweat and adrealine we completed our hike and returned to Antigua. I rewarded myself with some delicious food (try El Rincon Tipico and Toko Baru), a hot shower and around ten hours of sleep. Now I’m sitting here on my sore bum writing this article. Tomorrow’s gonna be a big day – my friend Tamara is coming over to Guatemala and we will travel for a while. I am excited!
Alrighty guys, the plan for the next weeks is attending spanish lessons and continue exploring this beauty of a country! I’ll keep you posted. Do not forget to tell me your opinion about 2018 in the comment section below 🙂