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Crossing the border was once again challenging.  Corrupt officials and cheeky taxi drivers gang up to rip off unsuspected travelers.   I managed to avoid most of the traps, falling only for one.  I paid 10 Quetzales ($1 = 7.5 Q) entry fee to Guatemala.  But there is no entry fee.  I knew that but it was getting dark and I thought $1 is not worth the hassle.  Once I forked out the money, I was greeted with a big smile and "welcome to Guatemala".  Taxi drivers were trying to convince me there is no bus but they can save my life by taking me to the next town.  I carried on walking and I found a bus.  How much?  50Q said the driver.  I keep on walking.  40Q he says.  I walk to  a bigger bus.  It´s 25Q.   That´s better.  It was dark already and I knew it´s dangerous to travel by night on this route.  Sometimes buses get stopped and the passengers get robbed by armed robbers.
The bus struggled up bendy road stopping for no reason in the dark and everybody was looking around nervously.  The guy next to me said "it´s all in Gods hands".  I thought the bus was about to break down but it just carried on until someone shouted "Flores!".  That was my destination, and I got off.  Soon afterwards I was in a friendly hostel full of travelers.


Flores is a small town on an island, and most travelers use it as a base for visiting the famous Maya ruins of Tikal.  I took a 5am bus with a couple of people from the hostel.  Visiting Tical involves a lot of walking.  At it´s hight, the "urban area" of Tikal was more than 100 sq km!  We didn´t mind walking through the jungle, it was beautiful.  We saw a lot of spider monkeys up in the trees and big spiders lower down.  It was foggy in the morning and I remember when we saw the first pyramid, Temple of the Great Jaguar.  It was more like a a tower, a prehistoric sky-scraper.  It was amazing.  That temple can not be climbed, but others can.  Wooden steps have been added for this purpose, in case of Temple V almost as steep as a ladder.  Temple V is 58m high, so it´s a long climb.  But the view from the top is worth the effort.  There is thick jungle in all directions, penetrated by tall pyramids to the north.

At the center of the site lies Great Plaza, dwarfed by 2 principal temples: Temple I (of the Great Jaguar) and Temple II (of the Masks).  Temple II was my favorite viewpoint.  From up there one can appreciate the splendor of the whole Plaza, with Temple I right in front, and many buildings and smaller temples of the North Acropolis to the left.  Tikal was the most impressive of all the ruins I visited.  I was glad I saw it the last so it didn´t rise my expectations before seeing the others.

Finca Tatin

It takes a boat ride along Rio Dulce to get to Finca Tatin.  The river is quite wide at first, but later it gets narrower with green hills on both sides.  The jungle pushes right against the water.  From time to time houses pop up on the river banks, sometimes small villages.  Usually, there is a line of clothes drying in front of the house.  It takes a long time to dry them in such a humid air.  Kids often play jumping in the water from swings, older ones go spear fishing.  They get around in small canoes.  Even little girls are proficient in paddling, a necessary skill for those people.

We stopped in places on the way, to see hundreds of water lilies or to swim in the hot springs.  Finally, we arrived in Finca Tatin.  It´s not a village, but just a hostel in the jungle right by the river.  Just being there is great, but there are things to do.  The first day, we went swimming in the river and walking in the jungle.  The atmosphere was very friendly, we ate our meals together and quickly got to know each other.

The next day, 4 of us rented 2 kayaks and went upstream to take a closer look at the river banks.  I also wanted to go downstream to see the canyon I heard was beautiful, but it started to rain.  It quickly turned into a true tropical storm, with unbelievable amounts of water falling down from the sky.  Fortunately, we were back by then, and marveled at the force of the nature hidden under the roof of our hostel.  The next day, after 2 boat and 1 bus ride, I crossed the border into Honduras.   photos