I left San Cristobal at 5:00 am on Monday, traveling on the Ruta Maya (Mayan Way), in a van, with a group of Mexican tourists. I was pleased to get a good photo with my defunct cell phone, from the window of the speeding, weaving van, as we made our way down the mountains to Palanque, a Mayan archelogical site.
We reached Palanque at 2:30, after stopping at two waterfalls. I love waterfalls, and these were exceptional. By the time we got to Palanque, with its thousands of stairs to be climbed, I was very tired and didn’t enjoy it as much as I had thought I would. I went up the stairs to the Palace, which was dusty, dark, dank and definitely a ruin. I probably would have been more impressed if it wasn’t toward the end of a twelve day of travel. I was satisfied to spend too much money on a nice hotel room and get a good night’s sleep before heading out at 6:00 am for Guatemala, although I was ill from the fish dinner.
Yesterday was another twelve hour day of travel, taking me to a northern city of Guatemala called Flores, which is on a lake. The first mode of transportation was a comfortable van, where I enjoyed a conversation with Jeanette and Pierre, a young couple from Brussels. We parted ways at a river that divides Mexico and Guatemala. I took a 5 minute boat ride across the river and was in Guatemala. Supposedly there are crocodiles in that river, but I saw none, which was encouraging.
I changed some money from pesos and dollars to Guatemalan quetzales; six quetzales to the dollar, but I don’t know if that is the official rate since I didn’t have internet service to check my laptop for the currency converter. Again, I was the only American, which I enjoyed. There was a Mexican couple, an Italian couple, a German couple, an Australian couple, and the singletons, me, an Italian woman, a Swiss man and a French man. I had good conversations with almost all of them. We were all heading for Flores, Guatemala on a dump of a bus (the “tourist”- bus, hahaha). The first 4 hours was on a dirt road, as we passed corn, mango trees, small, murky bodies of water, flowers, and many poor Guatemalans. The last hour was a paved road. I cheered and clapped as we drove onto a road that didn’t jiggle our guts to bowstrings. I only ate an apple the whole day and drank some water to get the dust from my throat.
I was so happy to finally reach the town as the sun set. I said goodbye to all my fellow travelers, as I was the last one to disembark, at the dock. I took a boat, which was just like the boat that I took across the river at the border (see photo). Five minutes later, I, carefully got off the boat, in the dark, and got into a tuk-tuk, which is a taxi somewhat like the tuk-tuks I anticipated in Thailand. A very pleasant driver took me to my hotel, where I dined on a inadequate but welcome “vegetarian” meal of pasta with a few veggies, joining a Canadian woman and an American woman at their table. Then I staggered back to my cabana on stilts, took a cool shower (no option) and slept.
This morning I realized how poor the internet reception is here on the other side of the lake and will go into town with the American woman, Laura, to the internet cafe to post this and do other laptop stuff, as well as find a vegetarian, Indian or Thai restaurant and have my first good meal since Saturday. Hasta luego….