Exploring Guatemala – Flores

Thursday afternoon we got a lift across the river to Fronteras and arrived at the bus station at just gone three in preparation for a 3.30 pm departure.   The bus station is really just a shelter from the road and it was sweltering…..so we were looking forward to our First Class bus with air conditioning, reclining seats, movies etc etc.   At 3.30 pm a ramshackle-looking bus turns up – but we are told this is not for us.   Good!   So we asked about ours…..and we are told there are problems and that it will be another hour.   Hmmm……not a great start!    But we enjoyed watching the beauty queens being paraded in the back of vans while we waited.

Beauty parade 1 Beauty parade 2

At 4.30 pm another derelict old bus turned up and we were herded on at speed.   Well, it would appear the First Class bus wasn’t running, and we are in second class instead.  At least it wasn’t third class with livestock LOL.    The seats were broken and the air conditioning didn’t work, it was rammed, people were shouting excitedly on their mobiles, and the baby behind us kept pooping its nappy so the smell was not exactly fragrant.   We were quite nervous as the time slipped by because this was a local bus and it kept stopping and starting – while we were anxiously watching out to ensure our luggage stayed with us.   The scenery was pretty but the people are really poor – we saw many people using the river for their cooking, cleaning and washing needs.

Finally, after two hours, we arrived at a ‘comfort break’ service station and were able to talk to the driver who confirmed that he would tell us when we got to Flores.    In the dark we did wonder where we might end up!

Finally after four hours on the road, being shaken to bits, we arrived at the Flores Bus Terminal – so we grabbed the first taxi that came along and got to our hotel.     The Isla de Flores Hotel is lovely.  We have a huge room and bathroom and spotlessly clean.     We quickly unpacked, went to the café / bar area, had a snack and a cold one before having an early night.

Our hotel Our hotel 2 Our hotel 3 Our hotel 4 Our hotel 5 Our hotel 6 Hotel room 1

Friday morning we were up early so I luxuriated in the bath for a while – what a treat!  We had breakfast before heading out to explore.   We walked – and walked – and walked for hours around the whole island stopping on occasion to rehydrate with frozen fruit juices.    We thoroughly enjoyed the sights and sounds of this little island oasis away from the chaos on the mainland and its lake / island views.   We were surprised at how quiet it was but I guess it is the rainy season….  Oh yes, this is the Peten region if the selfie photo confuses!

Flores 23 Flores 1 Flores 2 Flores 3 Flores 4 Flores 5 Flores 6 Flores 7 Flores 8 Flores 9 Flores 10 Flores 11 Flores 12 Flores 13 Flores 14 Flores 15 Flores 16 Flores 17 Flores 18 Flores 19 Flores 20 Flores 21 Flores 22

Early afternoon we had had enough so returned to the hotel.  We wandered up to the third floor to check out the little plunge pool on the roof and decided that some cooling off was in order. 

Hotel plunge pool

We were in our room just getting into our swimmers when suddenly the heavens opened.  So bad that our shutters blew open….  And the storm started.    So we stayed put and ended up watching a film on the computer as the TV only has two English speaking channels – CNN and BBC World News.   

After a relaxing few hours we got ourselves cleaned up again and headed back out into town.  We were fascinated by the street vendors who had set up for the evening – and especially that most of them seem to just sell huge cakes alongside their savoury snacks.  We were also treated to a lovely Flores sunset.  

Street food 1 Street food 2 Street food 3 Sunset

We had never seen so many swallows in one place before…..apparently they head this way from Canada….was reminiscent of a scene from a Hitchcock movie!  And, of course, one of them pooped on my arm as we headed underneath LOL….  

Birds! The Birds!

We had a cold one in a water-front bar before heading to a restaurant that we had spotted on our earlier travels.  We had a lovely meal looking over the lake before retiring back to the hotel bar to take advantage of the happy hour cocktails.

Time for dinner Happy Hour cocktails

Saturday morning and we had breakfast before chilling for a few hours as we were meeting Joe and Ulla at 11.00 am.  This was pure fluke that they were going to be here at the same time…so we decided to get together.    We wandered down the waterfront and found a water taxi to take us around the island and the neighbouring areas.   There was a cute little dog on board too – but he was clearly poorly and, by the end of the hour on the boat, had taken himself off under the floorboards.  Hope he was OK!   

Off out on the river Boat puppy Boat crew

The tour was nice as we meandered around the lake and saw some local settlements – Mayan and Spanish origins alike – along with lots of dilapidated or part-finished properties that were being left to rot.    Again lots of have and have-nots living side by side…..

River trip 2 River trip 4 River trip 5 River trip 6 River trip 7 River trip 8 River trip 9 River trip 10 River trip 11 River trip 12 River trip 13 River trip 3

We headed back to Flores onto the island and we went to a local quirky hostelry for a cold one.  We sat and chatted before heading off on our separate ways to reconvene later.   Richard and I returned to our hotel pool and managed 45 minutes bobbing before running for cover when the rain came down……   

Later on we headed back into town and we took cover from another whiteout in Joe and Ulla’s hotel bar….before finding the smallest restaurant ever to have dinner in.   Was a fun time before we said farewells and we’ll see them again when we return to the Rio Dulce.

Out for dinner

This morning – Sunday – and we’ve had breakfast and I’m blogging while Richard is doing some research into satellite communications…..   At 1pm we are heading off on a collectivo to Tikal for the next part of our adventure.

Bye for now