Winter Break in Central America travel blog

Outside the hotel

Hotel Petan (front)

Flores street

Local cathedral

At Lego Petan Itza

From my balcony

Submerged dock

Dancer and Queen

The horse


Unfinished hotel

On the lake

Flores from the boat

Street food!

Tuk Tuk

Hotel Peten (back) - my room top left

Bet gone bad



At 5:25 AM the lights came on… Seems they were on when the power went out the night before so I woke up five minutes early. At least I got to brush my teeth in the light! Then put the bag outside and up to the lodge for the bag o breakfast. Cheese sandwich, an orange, a box of mango juice and a pack of crackers. There were lots of people there getting vans. And then there was just us.

Ana called and the driver thought we were to be picked up at 6:00 PM. So we hung around a bit. He showed up and we sped to the airport. He must have broken every speed limit he could find. We got there at 7:30 and got in line – then found out that the flight had been cancelled. Great. Next flight at 8:00 tonight.

Ana had a discussion with the clerk and it ended up with all of us getting rooms in Flores – a lovely resort island about five minutes away. A van took us to the Hotel Peten where we were told the rooms were not ready, but we did get a free breakfast and lunch with the room. So we piled our bags behind the counter and had a real breakfast!

Then we went to look at the town and Lego Peten Itza (the lake) as a group – colorful houses, many shops, friendly people. We walked up the hill to the town square (the hill was partly composed of a destroyed Maya temple to raise the plaza and cathedral higher than the other buildings in the town. Since it was early the square was pretty empty but looked interesting.

Back at the hotel we were given rooms. Mine was on the 4th floor with a balcony that looked out over the lake. It was a sunny and warm day and the view was gorgeous! There was a small island in the lake and a scattering of buildings on the other shore. There was also a dock directly below – but it was three feet underwater. Lake was at its highest level in over 20 years.

Then I met up with Hans and Ema and we went looking at some of the shops in town. I was looking for a statue or picture of Ek’ Chuwah – the Maya god of Chocolate – they were looking for… stuff. They got a nice hammock for $24. After a number of shops we heard firecrackers. There was a big celebration of some sort going on in the middle of the street with a tall dancing “lady” and the Queen of Flores – a young woman with a crown. Lots of people were taking pictures but we could not figure out what it was all about.

Back at the hotel for a rest. Hans and Ema decided to go to the pool but I decided to walk around. Down by the lake I chatted with Fernando – the captain of a local boat. We agreed on a price of $15 and he’d drive me around the lake. His English wasn’t great but it was OK. We stopped across the lake from the island where a statue of a Maya carving a horse was just being finished. Representing the Maya attempting to control the horses of the Spanish. Then around the peninsula (another Maya ruin) and saw some interesting things – like a hotel that was started twelve years ago and ran into trouble so is now occupied by “renters.” Water was quite nice. He said the lake was over 1000 feet deep and it had risen over six feet in the recent rain.

Back at the town I came across a shop that had prints of Ek’ Chuwah so got a couple and some other souvenirs. Then met up with the group for lunch at 3:00. We chatted about our adventures and had a nice meal. I went off to look at the central square then on the way back to the hotel ran into Hans and Ema again. We got together and took a “tuk tuk” ride around town – a motorcycle taxi. Quite fun. Then up to the center square again. Lots was going on. A guy selling “jungle products” – teeth and bones and the like. Rather shady. Another old guy was selling “chances” to win money (numbers written on rolled up sticky notes). I bought one and… nothing. After a while we went back for more shops, then I had to pack up my stuff and we all met in the lobby to await our transport.

At about 6:30 the van showed up and drove us the ten minutes to the airport. We checked in then in the departure lounge Ana showed us pictures of the recently uncovered Maya murals from Mexico. They are uncovering more and more about these people. Quite remarkable.

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