23.06.2008 - 25.06.2008 32 °C
We left Palenque at 6 am in a minibus to take us to the Guatemalan border. The bus to the border took about 3 hours. We get out and ask where we go for Mexican immigration to get stamped before we leave. The drivers says, ¨It looks closed now, you´ll have to wait a bit.¨ 45 minutes later a sleepy looking Immigration official drives up and apologizes for the delay. He stamps our passports and about 9 more tourists´ and then we all walked down to the Rio Usumacinta to pile into a small boat (lancha) for a 45 minute crossing into Bethel, Guatemala.
The boat held 11 of us, plus 1 driver, plus all of our backpacks. After all this weight, our bums were about 6 inches from dragging through the river. It was an amazing way of crossing borders. From the other side, we traded money and went to a tiny immigration office, with two of the nicest immigration officers you could ever meet. After this a bus took us another 4.5 hours, most of it unpaved and rainy, to Flores.
This is in the bus trying to pass the time away. We had fun talking with the other travellers as well. There was a couple from Holland, a couple from England, 3 guys from Israel, a Korean girl, and a Mexican man from Texas. This variety of people made for some very interesting conversations.
We got to Flores, a small island on Lake Peten Itza, and found a nice little hotel (Hotel de Lacundon) with hot water for 10 bucks a night. We signed up for a sunrise tour of the Tikal Ruins. They picked us up at our hotel at the ripe and early time of 3:30 am. We got to the ruins and immediately hiked about 2km (30 min) to Temple 4, made our way to the top, and sat down for a cloudy but beautiful sunrise. Typically on a clear morning, one could see most the major temples from this spot.
After this we hiked about 10km around the ruins. We saw many animals like spiders monkeys, coites, toucans, and a taratula. It rained on and off most the day, which made climbing the temples a bit dangerous. We did it anyways, and survived with only a few close calls. The views were worth it. Tikal was considered the capital of the Mayan world. Tikal is amazing because only about 15 percent is open to viewing. The rest is still slowly being unearthed, or is off limits for preservation reasons.
Tomorrow morning we leave for Honduras on a 8-10 hr bus ride. We will see how that goes, and post more at a later time.
AJ and Thalita