The ruins of Tikal
About my messed up arrival in Guatemala, how a gay man tried to seduce me, the cute peninsula Flores and my visit to the extraterrestrial ambience of the Mayan ruins of Tikal
After I left the paradisiac, but very expensive Belize, the third country on the list was Guatemala. Many of my fellow travellers had already told me about this country in a very positive way. It offers culture, beautiful scenery, various adventure opportunities, good Spanish schools and all this at a good price.
a miserable arrival
To leave Belize, I had to pay nearly $20 at the border. On the Guatemalan side of the border, me and all the other passengers waited for our shuttle bus to the city Flores, who just didn't want to show up. No one knew what had happened.
After a while it turned out the bus had been broken. Before we could continue with another bus, quite a while passed. I had no cash or food left and eventually had to continue the journey with my stomach rumbling.
On the bus there was a large group of English and Australian men whose babbling I had to listen to. In detail they described how big the tits were of the woman they had fucked the night before. However, they seriously wondered what currency is being used to pay in the country where they were located at this moment!
These party animals are the kind of tourists who take advantage of the low prices here so they can party extensively and show only peripheral interest in the culture that the country offers. It makes me sad that such people have so much money and then waste it that way, while the locals here have to work hard and still often don't have enough money to travel. Nothing against partying but they should more respect to the local culture.
They also learned later that in Guatemala people pay with Quetzales, named after the holy national bird of the country. 1 $ corresponds to approx. 7.5 Quetzal.
No surprise, almost all the other travelers headed for the party hostel Los Amigos. I was relieved that I had a reservation for another hostel. What I was experiencing there, however, was worse than sharing the room with the party people.
and even more goes wrong
I had chosen the Chaltunha Hostel San Miguel as my accommodation. The reviews promised a fantastic view of the lake and the small peninsula Flores as well as extremely friendly staff.
To get there, the manager of the hostel left me the address of a café from where we would drive to the hostel together.
When I got there at the scheduled time, I found myself standing in front of locked doors. Fortunately the guide of the bus ride had accompanied me and had the phone number of the hostel owner, whom he called promptly. He didn't seem to know about it.
So he sent someone to open the café and just 45 minutes later someone who took me to the hostel. With a tuk-tuk I first went to the pier and from there by rowing boat to the other side of the lake, where the next tuk-tuk was already waiting for me to deliver me to the hostel.
I reached a completely isolated place in total darkness. The employees didn't seem happy to have to stop watching TV and having to receive a guest. Or in other words: to receive a guest at all, because I was the only guest (!) in this hostel. I also could not really communicate with them because they only spoke Spanish and my Spanish was terrible at that time.
The only common room in the immediate neighbourhood was the in-house restaurant, where I ordered some spaghetti. The bedrooms were not in the same house as at a hostel, but in isolated cabins.
The Guatemalan employee led me wordlessly to a sleeping cabin on a pitch-black night. On the way I was already surrounded by the numerous mosquitos and also the house dog apparently did not like me at all. Well, anyway, he bit me by a hair's breadth in my delicious ass haha
There was no electricity in the first and second cabins he showed me. Finally, in the third cabin, it worked. To wash myself or go to the toilet, I would have had to go to another cabin in absolute darkness. Besides, there were no lockers or Internet in my cabin.
Participation in any activity always would have required an inconvenient trip back to the main island by boat and tuk-tuks (which were not included in the price).
Immediate departure and return to the party animals
I decided quickly not to stay here and went back to the restaurant area. They called the boss, who was quite disinterested and then arranged everything in the way so that I could return to the main island.
Before that, however, I had to wait for my food that I had already ordered. To make matters worse, the linguistic differences resulted in me receiving spaghetti with minced meat. They scored big time here considering that I am vegetarian haha
Now it was already passed 9 pm and I stumbled cluelessly through the cobblestone streets of the hilly little peninsula. My energy was running out because I hadn't eaten most of the day. Google Maps didn't show me hostels because I didn't have Internet. I just found expensive hotels.
After a while I entered a hotel to ask for internet. I searched online for the Los Amigos Hostel to reunite "finally" with the party folk. A short time later I was already there and was received friendly. A few minutes later the reception would have been closed. Thankfully!
I sat down outside the bedroom for a while because there were already some people sleeping inside. Then a Guatemalan employee approached me and started a casual conversation. He explained to me how here some wild guests of the hostel have sex before everybody else. Oh, how nice. Finally, he started asking me rather indiscreet questions:
Have you ever tried gay sex? You should try it sometime!
No, thank you, I replied. I prefered to go to sleep.
Cute little peninsula
The next morning I explored the small peninsula with its many colourful houses, surrounded by the beautiful lake. The heat also got me down here this time. Fortunately, the hostel had a great restaurant, which also offers vegetarian food at a relatively good price.
Generally I liked the hostel very much. Chic palm trees adorned the semi-open inner courtyard with its many sitting and lying possibilities. Also the party people stayed so quiet that one could sleep in peace at night. Also practical was that I could book a tour to the ruins of Tikal and the night bus to Antigua in the hostel.
The extraterrestrial scenery of the Mayan ruins of Tikal
In the evening I received a shocking personal message which preoccupied me quite a bit. In order to suppress the thoughts, I walked around town in the evening and watched some local children playing basketball and went to bed early, because my tour to the ruins should start the next morning at 4.00 am (!). The tours to these ruins all start very early (for sunrise) or very late (for sunset). During the day the heat there is unbearable as in the hell of Palenque.
The ruins of Tikal are quite close to Flores. Shortly before 6 o'clock we reached them. They extend over a gigantic area. As a result, the tourists are well spread out.
In front of the entrance we first saw a colourful bird. It was so nice to see and hear these ruins come to life in the morning hours when the crickets start chirping and the howler monkeys compete in a screaming contest.
Tikal ranked among the most powerful kingdoms of the ancient Maya and reached its peak in the classical period around 200 to 900 A.D. There was a long-standing conflict with the mighty neighbouring state of Calakmul, which was conquered in the 8th century.
It is one of the best understood large Mayan cities, with a long dynastic list of rulers, their tombs and the study of their monuments, temples and palaces.
From the big pyramid you have a wonderful view of the surrounding rainforest. Watching the sunset from here must be fantastic. Unfortunately I could not arrange to see him there, because my night bus left for the next town on the same day.
George Lucas shot scenes for his world-famous Star Wars movie right at this place. The extraterrestrial setting provided the location for the battles on the planet Yavin 4 in this movie.
At the end of the tour the guide gave us the choice to take the shuttle bus back to the hostel or to wait a few hours for the next one and in the meantime to explore the area further. Together with a Taiwanese and a Spaniard I decided on the latter. Together we met a large group of howler monkeys, crossed the path of a white-noased coati and were amazed at the big stones where people were sacrificed in former times.
The huge kapok trees that grow everywhere also fascinated me. Not only because of its sheer size but also because of the pretty treetop, whose branches are surrounded by a wool-like material.
The Maya depicted it as a tree of life, comparable to the ash Yggdrasil in Nordic mythology. Such a tree of life connects the underworld (roots) with the heaven (treetop). The connection between them is established by the world (tree trunk).
Waiting for the night bus
Back in the hostel I sat out the hours for the night bus to Antigua, as I was also a little sleepy from getting up early. In this hostel I met Liz and Simon, the Canadian-American couple, for the third time in a row. The plans of many backpackers resemble each other very much.
Shortly before 10 p.m. the mini-bus picked me and a few other passengers up to drive us to the bus station. The next stop of my journey was: Antigua.