TikalApril 11, 2018 in Guatemala ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C
The "can't miss" Mayan ruins, Tikal. We're not usually the types to do the big name attractions while travelling - Jack skipped Angkor Wat in Cambodia for Pete's sake! But we decided to make Tikal the exception since neither Jack or I had ever seen Mayan history. Thankfully it wasn't overcrowded at all! A quick 70Q (12$CAD) each for transportation there and back (an hour away from Flores, where most people base themselves) but no guide. Fear not, thanks to our trusty travel guide and my maps.me GPS - we could make our own guided tour, reading about the different sites from our book, confirming we're at the right one with my phone.
Side note - shout out to the app maps.me, free maps that I download before every new country onto my phone - my GPS can follow me incredibly well throughout the country. I can even look things up like hotels or ATMs with no internet needed. I've been amazed at how much details, including trails, the app has. You literally can't get lost, which makes me incredibly happy, where as Jack finds it 'too safe' or 'no fun'.
What to say about the site itself? It's huge. So many pyramids, so tall, so many stairs to climb up for view points - all of which are worth it (which means a lot coming for me!) Just the walk from settlement to settlement was absolutely beautiful jungle-esk trails, birds chirping all around. Google photos - there aren't too many words to describe massive rock pyramids built 1300 years ago hidden away in the jungle... My take away from Tikal though is I'm not climbing the big volcano, no way!
As every super touristy spot overcharges for food, we were good backpackers and brought ourselves lunch! We were hoping to grab fresh tortillas but since Flores is a bubble for tourists, there are no street sellers to buy tortillas from. So we grab the toasts from our breakfast, peanut butter and bananas. Open-faced banana-peanut-butter sandwich, winner!
Once back in Flores, the heat of the day called us to the water! A quick swim with the locals is always a good experience. I call my swimming time "the jaw dropper". I'd love to say it's because I look so good in a bathing suit, but no. I still often pass as male, so when I dip in a body of water, even with a t-shirt on since it seemed like the right thing to do (all locals were fully dressed in the water), my shirt tends to kling to my chest and down the jaws go. I tend to avoid eye contact with anyone around me at all cost, but Jack gets the full effect.
Backpacker tip #? - eat dinner next to the place everyone tells you to go! Locals and tourists alike were telling us to go to Skybar for a drink - it's 2 floors up, great view on the water. We went to the restaurant behind it, 3 floors up, with the same great view and food half the price. We could see Skybar was full of tourist from where we were quietly sitting, alone in a nature-friendly balcony, petting the family dog.
To end the day - I'll be real with you all about a moment of disagreement that comes up every once in a while between Jack and I. She likes the challenge of finding the cheapest way of doing anything. It's both a question of budget, and being closer to the locals. I agree, for the most part. But when everyone on the island can sell you a bus ticket to Rio Dulce, our next destination, for 100Q (17$CAD) I'm not going to look for hours for another solution. Jack on the other hand will spend 20 minutes on her phone during drinks on a lovely patio, then another 15 minutes once back in our room to figure out where the local buses leave from (not on Flores, somewhere in Santa Elena which is right then and there at least a 30 minute walk) and how we get there. I on the other hand, can appreciate that we are both successful adults, and we can afford the few extra dollars of convenience. In case you're wondering, I won. So we booked our Shuttle Bus to Rio Dulce.Read more