Tikal and Antigua
27.04.2007 - 30.04.2007 25 °C
On the 27th we boarded a minibus early in the morning, which took us to the border between Mexico and Guatemala in a few hours. Here we had our exit stamp. Then we got onto a little river boat, which took us upriver to the Guatemalan border town of Bethel, where we got our entry card and paid entry fee to Guatemala. We then got on a bus, which drove us along dusty gravel roads for several more hours, to hte Guatemalan town of Flores, located on an island in a lake here. We checked in to hotel San Pedro, and had a nice dinner on the lake.
On the 28th we got up very early again, in order to get to the ruins at Tikal before the heat got unbearable - its extremely hot and humid here as well. Tikal was worth the early rise, wow, its amazing. Alan has been here before a few years ago, but for me its was a first - and I was blown away. The ruins here are spread out, with overgrown jungle paths connecting them. They are not at all as rebuilt as the ones at Palenque. You walk through shady green jungle, meeting all sorst of bugs and birds on your way, and we even saw a toucan and a large group of spider monkeys. Then the jungle opens up, and you suddenly see huge tall pyramids, open stone couryards or ruins of ancient palaces. Unique. As the finale we climbed pyramid IV - the tallest building at 64m. At the top, you have an undisturbed view across jungle as far as you can see, with birds soraing high above it all. The canopy is only broken here and there by other of Tikals pyramids, who also rise above it.
After this, we went back to Flores and chilled out, and bokked a bus onwards to Antigua.
On the 29th, we boarded the bus for the 10 hour trip to Antigua. It was a large, comfortable bus, so the ride was not too bad. Because the trip was in the daytime, we got to see lots of the countryside in Guatemala, with mountains, cattle ranches, villages, rivers. In one village there was apparantly a rodeo going on, and we saw all the cowboys in the best gear, parading around. In the evening, we made it to Antigua, and checked into a hotel.
Today, the 30th, we have just spent the day walking around town. Antigua is lovely, and because we spent quite a lot of time here about four years ago, when we first met, it feels almost like home. It has gotten even more touristy and busy, but still manages to maintain its own character and charm, at least to me, with its cobblestone streets and colonial architecture. Also, the climate here is pleasant all year - warm without being hot, and not humid at all. From all over the city, you get beautiful views of the surrounding volcanoes - one of them is currently erupting a bit, so now and again you see a plume of smoke rise up from it. There are hiking tours out to see the lava flows, but we are gonna give that a miss. I don't much fancy melting the soles of my walking boots. We plan on staying here till wednesday, and then heading on to Honduras and Roatan, again on a long bus ride. Again, don't forget to look at Flickr, for pictures from Tikal, and soon from Antigua as well.