Tikal and Semuc Champey
19.07.2011 - 23.07.2011
We arrived in Flores, a town 50 miles from the border with Belize, as the rains hit. Actually, that's not quite true, Flores is an island in Lake Peten Itza joined to a larger, dirtier town called Santa Elena by a bridge. We were dropped off in Santa Elena. We tried to shelter at a market there when a tuk-tuk rolled up offering us a lift. We realised we were getting over-charged but as the water began to rise above my foot we decided to take it anyway.
Flores itself is a lovely little place, all cobbled with colourful houses lining the streets. But the best bit was a bar recommended to us by a little Salvadorian man we met where beers cost 50p. Most of the time we spent in Flores was in some state of inebriation. The first night we were there was a big one, which at 4:15am (the time we had to get up for our Tikal tour) was widely regretted. Tikal is another Mayan site, which was often at war with Caracol (the site we visited in Belize) and while it was really impressive, we didn't think it was as good as Caracol. Although that might have had something to do with the pounding in our heads... We spent the whole day there chilling out and by the end of the day we were pretty much alone, sitting at the top of one of the pyramids looking out over the jungle with nothing but the tops of other pyramids breaking the endless forest. We then returned to the 50p beer bar.
The next morning we left Flores to try and get to a little town called Lanquin where we would visit a freak of nature called Semuc Champey. Semuc Champey is a limestone 'bridge' over a raging river positioned between two steep mountains. On this bridge cascades water from the mountains through a series of turquoise pools. Anyway, due to the random nature of the buses and the fact that they don't run at night due to fear of robbery we had to settle for staying in a nearby town called Coban. Apparently settled by Germans growing coffee, the town boasts an abundance of gateau shops and made for a pleasant stop-over. Next morning we finally made it to Lanquin and up to Semuc Champey courtesy of a man who owned a pickup. We paid him and agreed he'd pick us up at 3, after a few hours splashing about we left but our man had obviously decided he couldn't be bothered waiting. So we set off back on the 9km journey to town, wearing flip flops. Luckily we only had to turn one corner before some other lads in a pickup passed and we hitched a lift with them, sitting on their tent. That night in Lanquin we met some Irish and drinking games naturally followed, again rued the next morning when we had to be up before six to get an eight hour bus to Antigua.
So we're now in Antigua, a lovely little colonial town in the shadow of a huge volcano. But more about that in the next entry...