Tag Archives: Flores

Flores, Back to Guatemala City, then home

Mar 6 – We’ve enjoyed our week’s respite in beautiful Flores, walking the town and the hills behind us on the peninsula, which we found was called San Miguel.

Jim discovered a network of trails that promised a scenic overlook from El Mirador.

In addition to the view, we found a big rock. Little did we know, this was an artifact of Tayasal, another ancient Mayan site with its own grand plaza and pyramid, that was rediscovered in the 1920s and studied by archeologists from the University of Pennsylvania in the 1970s. Right up the hill from our hotel! We were the only ones there.

The carving on the rock below depicts a human figure sitting cross legged on a mask with a bar in his left hand. Can you see it? Me neither…

Next door to our hotel lives a parrot, who perches on the veranda and wolf whistles at all the passers by.

We heard a marching band right under our hotel window, and rushed out to see a parade in honor of the local Quinceañeras (coming of age party for 15 year old girls)

We’ve become enamored of a little panderia in town with an enthusiastic baker who let us sample her wares before selecting. On our last day in Flores, we asked if we could take her photo. You can see her shoulder as she quickly ran to hide behind the door!

Adios, Flores!

Mar 7 – Remember how many hours we spent on buses to get us from the south to the north of Guatemala? Our return trip to Guatemala City took exactly one hour, thanks to the regional airport in Flores. Yay!

In typical American style, we got to the airport two hours before our flight was scheduled. In typical Guatemalan relaxed fashion, we sat in the terminal looking at our empty plane until the pilot arrived, about ten minutes after we were supposed to take off. Then the young woman who administered our boarding passes shrugged into an orange vest and walked us out to the plane. Remember planes like these?

When we were all inside, she checked that everyone had a seat belt, then she left. The pilot got up and locked the hatch. When was the last time you got to watch the pilot fly the plane?

It was my job to make sure the left propeller kept turning.

In an hour we were back in Guatemala City, and ten minutes later at our hostal, a beautiful home with a lovely garden in the heart of the city. There are no restaurants nearby, so our host showed us a little shop around the corner where the proprietor cooks a delicious meal for those who had reserved. We had a lovely supper with a couple from Minnesota, a man from Hamburg, and a woman from France. A great ending to our adventure.

We were up at 6 and at the airport at 7 for our flight to Atlanta, where Customs was so slow that we ended up sprinting through terminal B to make our connection with three minutes to spare. Happy to say we made it, and we are back home safe and sound. Til next time!

Tikal – Yax Mutal

Mar 2 – Got up early this morning for the 90 minute ride to Tikal, the huge site of Mayan ruins in the rainforest that was discovered in the 1840s, and is still in the very early stages of being uncovered and restored – about 15% uncovered since work began in the 1950s.

The place was originally called Yax Mutal (Yosh Moo-TALL) by the folks who lived here, and pottery uncovered dates back to 1000 BCE. There is no waterway, so the complex includes 10 huge reservoirs to collect rainwater during the rainy season and distribute it to grow crops and sustain the 90,000 people who once lived here. By 900 CE, they were all gone, probable victims of drought and warfare.

Here is what a pyramid looks like before the archeologists start digging:

Here’s one in the process of being uncovered:

Our guide Luis shared his passion for the history of Yax Mutal with us. If he looks familiar, it’s because he appeared on Survivor: Guatemala – The Maya Empire, when an episode was shot near Tikal. I’ll have to look for the episode when I get home.

The howler monkeys made a huge racket up in the trees – if you didn’t know better you would swear it was the roar of a T Rex!

We also saw spider monkeys and a coatimundi.

The temples are laid out so they line up with the sun on the equinoxes and solstices. Very mathematically precise.

Below is the latest building uncovered. See how the stone is still white on the bottom where it’s just been exposed?

These are the altars and stiles thought to have been used for sacrifices. They are arranged in groups of nine.

From the top of Perdido Mundo (the lost world), you have a 360 degree view of other temples in the distance.

A face has been uncovered at the Temple of Masks. Can you see it?

Another carving – not sure what it represents:We befriended Sue from Bristol UK, who climbed up and down the pyramids with us.

Fascinating, very hot 🥵 , experience of a lifetime!

More from Flores

Mar 1 – Today we explored a bit of our peninsula. When folks talk about Flores, they are usually referring to the island across Lago Petén Itzál, but because we are staying on the peninsula, I’ll make the distinction.

There are little tiendas (shops) here for the townspeople, mostly chips, snacks and sodas, but nothing to appeal to travelers. We saw some wildlife:

A playground (creative things to do with tires):

A statue:Hmmm… that was about it.

On Google Maps I saw a restaurant about a ten minute walk down the shore. Doña Rosa got five stars from the locals for serving the best pescado blanco (white fish) around. It is the specialty here, proudly caught in the lake. We decided to check it out for lunch.

We followed the directions, but could see no restaurant. We asked, and were told to open a gate and go into a yard. Inside a hut we found Rosa. She showed us three different sizes of fish, and asked us to choose which one we wanted. Then she shooed us out to sit at a table looking out over the lake. Twenty minutes later, our fish was presented, steamed in foil with vegetables, and served with salad and fresh tortillas.

Delicious! Thanks Google Maps!

Here is the sunset from our veranda. A person could get used to living here..


Feb 27 – This morning we rose early to catch the pickup truck back to Lanquín. I managed to finagle myself into the cab seat next to the driver while Jim and eleven others stood in the back, but it was still a pretty thrilling ride. In Lanquín, we were separated by destination to board the mini-buses. Unfortunately , there were 32 people traveling to Flores, and only one 15 passenger bus going there. After much hand waving and histrionics, a second bus was obtained, and two extra seats were added to the aisle of our bus. It all worked out, but we got a late start and were packed cheek to jowl for the whole day. I sat with two girls from Israel, and Jim was sandwiched behind me between a young man from Stuttgart and an older woman from France.

It will take nine hours for the 97 mile ride to Flores. For such a small country, it sure takes a long time to cross it! Flores, in the department (province) of Petén, will be the northernmost part of our adventure, where we plan to visit the Mayan ruins at Tikal.

The driver stopped every three hours so we could eat and stretch our legs. It is now officially 🥵 hot. Then we got an extra, unexpected break. We pulled into a queue of cars, buses and trucks sitting idle. The driver indicated that we could get out and roam around, as we had to wait our turn for the ferry. It was only a little spit of water, but there was no bridge, so we waited for this ferry, powered by two outboard motors, that could take about six vehicles across at a time.

I felt badly for the trucks of cattle, squished together (so they wouldn’t fall over) in the hot sun. After half an hour’s wait, it was our turn.

We arrived by 6pm. All the kids headed off to the two hostels on Flores island. We are the only ones staying at Casa de Grethel, which is just across the water on the peninsula, and only accessible by boat. We knew to call our host, and he came and picked us up in his little skiff. He will ferry us back and forth for free as long as we are here.

A view of Flores island from our restaurant on the pier

Feb 28 – After a leisurely breakfast, we took the skiff over to explore Flores island. Here’s the view of our hotel from the water. They call the little pier “the beach” as you can jump in the water to swim there. This is on our list of things to do.

Flores island is itty bitty, filled with hotels, hostels, tourist agents and restaurants to serve the people who come to see the ruins at Tikal, which is a 90 minute drive from here.

In our walk around the island, we found pretty flowers:

Interestingly colorful painted buildings:

Some wall art:

Some wall art in progress:And a church!

Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios, Our Lady of the Remedies

We found the ATM, a place to eat lunch, and the panderia (bakery) for tomorrow’s breakfast. On our way back to the dock, we passed a masseuse with a cute mascot:

An altogether delightful day!