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World Trip 2011

Antigua & Tikal, Guatemala.

GUATEMALA | Monday, 1 August 2011 | Views [573]

After a quick hour drive in the morning we were at the Guatemalan border. We had a slight problem on the Mexican side when the guy noticed that when we entered the country back on the 10th June, the 1 couldn’t been seen so it looked like we entered on the 0th of June, but with some convincing he gave us the departure stamp and we were onto the Guatemalan side. Having a car has its disadvantages (insurance, importation etc) as we went to one office, then the next, then the next. Jumped through a few hoops then we were officially in. Guatemala is all mountains with stunning scenery everywhere. We made our way slowly into Antigua, but not before taking the wrong road and back tracking (seems to be becoming a common theme). It’s frustrating with the lack of signs etc but it’s also part of the adventure.  Antigua is very much like San Cristobal de la Casas in Mexico with its cobblestone streets, narrow sidewalks, churches and colourfully painted buildings. It’s a big stop for most on the gringo trail with backpackers from all over the world mixing in with the locals. We stayed at the Jungle Party Hostel which as you can guess is pumping every night. Consequently the beers flowed and we made many new friends and partied around town for the first 2 nights. This meant that we couldn’t do much in the day but that’s the way it goes.

We then decided to take the infamous night bus up to Tikal where the mother of all the Maya ruins is. The night bus journey started with a crazy shuttle to Guatemala City where the driver nearly killed us a few times then we got dumped at the bus station for the transfer. Guatemala City at night is not the safest place to be for sure but everything was cool. We met an Aussie couple that were really nice, safety in numbers also. The night buses are targeted by bandidoes as they are easy prey on the lonely roads at night but again our luck continued and everything was sweet. Phenergan did its job again and we both managed some sleep which was nice. We had some hoo-haa getting from the bus station in Flores to the ruins but we managed to get there eventually around mid morning.

Tikal’s ruins are set in the dense jungle and was a vast city dating back to around 700 BC. There are many large pyramids with the largest being 61 meters high and standing 12 meters above the jungle canopy. The Maya are renowned for their calendar and astronomical observations. All the buildings are aligned according to the summer solstice. Sunrise tours are highly popular (we didn’t get there in time), as the sun comes up directly over Temple 1 and is perfectly aligned. We saw spider monkeys as well as many birds in the jungle. The ruins are an awesome sight because of their size, scale, technology and age but I think that because we went to Palenque last week, there was less shock factor.  We then headed back to Flores to wait for the night bus back to Antigua.

All good on the bus and on arrival in Antigua we checked back into the Jungle Party Hostel                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     and booked a hike up to the Volcano. After a necessary midday sleep we started the journey out to the Volcano in a minivan where we made a few friends. The walk up took about an hour and a half and was pretty easy for us, but not for some. They follow the group with a horse and rider, and continually ask if you want to jump on. “You look tired, you should jump on etc”. It costs extra of course. Funny stuff.  Unfortunately it rains alot at this time of year so the view wasn’t as spectacular as we would have hoped for and we got rained on but it was a good experience nonetheless.

That night we went out to a bar and found a Dj playing some cool tunes so we celebrated with a few beers and danced the night away. Next stop, El Salvador.

PS. Sorry about the long post, Internet is not always available down here!

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