Guatemala - Thursday 2 December 1999
Once again, we get up early, this time leaving at 4:30 am. Rising early two days in a row is more challenging than just one. Fortunately, I sleep in the same room as Wolfgang, so I still manage to wake up in time!
We head to the airport of Guatemala City with the same driver as yesterday, about an hour's drive. We catch some more sleep in the car. The road is still quiet. It gets busier only when we reach the city. The driver immediately starts giving us a tourist tour of the city.
Gail asks us for money for airport taxes. Wolfgang gets angry, as he believes that GAP should pay for it. He doesn't explicitly say that Gail pockets the money. She responds a bit defensively. Ultimately, the terms indeed state that it's not included.
We fly to Flores, a small island town in Lake Petén Itzá. Technically, it's not an island because it's connected to the mainland by a bridge.
It's raining when we arrive! We were looking forward to the sun and warmth. It's just not meant to be... The airline staff waits for us with umbrellas.
The rain passes quickly, but it remains cloudy. There's not much to do in Flores with this weather. We relax in a restaurant with beautiful classical music. It's wonderfully quiet. They serve delicious yogurt with honey, good for upset stomachs. There are single-player puzzles. You have to eliminate all but one pawn. I only manage to leave three pawns.
We're afraid we won't have enough time tomorrow to explore everything in Tikal thoroughly. We read that after 3:00 pm, you can buy a ticket that is still valid for the next day. So, we decide to go there now, courtesy of GAP. We rent a van and head there. The five of us go; Maria is sick and stays in the hotel.
Tikal is huge! The ruins are widely scattered, with a lot of jungle in between. Along with ruins, we see beautiful flowers, plants, animals, and birds.
The ruins here vary greatly. A few have beautiful inscriptions, many are only partially restored. The most beautiful and, therefore, the most famous are the large temples, temples 1 to 4.
We climb temple 4, requiring several shaky wooden steps. It's quite a climb, but the view is stunning from up here! You can see the entire jungle area of Petén and, of course, the other large temples.
At temple 3, we watch the sunset. Well, as much as we can, as there are many clouds on the horizon.
Dutch people always stand out among the crowd. One couple is sitting on the edge of the ruin, talking to a guide about life here during the time of the Maya. Genuine Dutch people with a complete outfit from the Nomad store.
Another couple is sitting in the middle, openly discussing their relationship. When the guy loudly says, "So, it's all about sex for you," my fellow travelers are naturally curious about what he said exactly. They can't believe someone would say that in public. They think the couple will surely be shocked when they realize I'm also Dutch. But when I ask them in Dutch where the exit is, they are not surprised at all. By the way, they also don't know where the exit is; they were following us, assuming we knew. Fortunately, there are enough guards who can guide us in the dark.
Before leaving Flores, I had dropped my laundry at the laundromat, along with Gert's. Gail is willing to pick it up in case we're not back in time. Everything is clean and fresh for only 20 quetzals! As it turns out, we're still back on time.
In the evening, we dine in the cozy restaurant where we had breakfast earlier in the day. It was quiet in the morning, with beautiful classical music; now it's jazzier.
In the restroom, there's a rather conspicuous calendar. The months are adorned with all sorts of sexual positions. My fellow travelers can't stop talking about it.