Off to Flores: Gateway to Tikal
Trip Start Dec 11, 2004
7Trip End Jan 11, 2005
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In my opinion, at around $3.50 for a hellish 12 hour ride on a retired American school bus, this is a fool's bargain. For a usurious $12.00 we're taking an air conditioned Pullman bus that gets us to Flores in half the time the Chicken Bus would take.
We pull into Flores around 1:30 in the afternoon. Actually the bus stops in Santa Elena and we walk a few hundred yards into Flores. Flores is a lollipop shaped peninsula on Lago (lake) Peten Itza.
All the books call it 'an Island connected to the shore by a causeway'. Who really knows what you mean when you say 'causeway' and if it's connected to land by more land, it ain't an island.
In Pre-Columbian times, Flores was the Maya city of Tayasal. The Itza, left the Yucatán in the 13th century and turned the city of Tayasal into their capital. It was on the island of Flores, in 1541, that Cortés failed to conquer the Maya. They held off the Conquistadors until 1697, when Tayasal was destroyed and the town of Flores was built on its ruins.
We have an excellent lunch at El Tucan, check into a double room at El Mirador del Lago, and make travel arrangements, with a very cute travel agent, for a bus to Tikal tomorrow morning and a plane to Guatemala City the next day.
Staying in the room next door to us are Matt & Peter, two Brits from the Isle of Jersey. They're coming off a dive trip in Belize. Matt has a gift for storytelling and enjoys needling Americans. Peter is too tired to speak but proudly shows us a Jersey Pound (apparently the UK allows Jersey to mint it's own currency).
Matt had had lunch at La Luna and was raving about the Carbonara. Off the charts Carbonara in the middle of Guatemala? This we gotta see. We all head to La Luna for dinner. On the way we run into a British couple Matt & Peter had met crossing the border from Belize, Liz and ?. They decide to join us for dinner. Liz is a passport stamper. She works the festival season in Europe to earn travel money and gets as many stamps in her passport as possible in the off season. My impression of her, a european version of a Deadhead.
I have to give her credit though. She's 26 and has already visited something like 85 countries. ? makes no impression at all... obviously.
Matt is right, the Carbonara is excellent and so is the rest of the food. La Luna is possibly the best restaurant in Flores. It is easily the swankiest. The interior is decorated as nicely as any restaurant on Prospect Street back home in La Jolla.
By 11:30PM, except for us, the restaurant is deserted. I can pretty much sense that the workers just want to close up and go home. It's Wednesday and Flores isn't known for its mid-week nightlife. Jim and I decide to pack it in. The four Brits stay until 1:00AM.
Where I stayed
El Mirador del Lago