After an overnight FDN (Fuente Del Norte) bus from Antigua to Santa Elena and a taxi ride at 5.30a just as the sun announced a new day, we arrived in Flores. We paid an extra 100 quetzals to gain early entry to our room at Villa de Lago, had a nap and went exploring.
Flores is on an island connected by causeway to Santa Elena. It is small and easily walked around. We stopped for lunch at Cool Beans, a small restaurant in a hostal. Cheap like borsch and excellent typico food. Restaurants and hotels line the waterfront with small travel agencies, allies and laundries squeezed in between. Traffic is one way. In the center is a hill. High on the hill sits a white stucco church newly refurbished and plain inside with the exception of the high brightly stained glass windows. The altar is wreathed in gold and red banners along with the lower ealls. Outside under cover sits their Easter float...a plain wooden sled-like float awaiting decoration.
We booked our trip to Tikal....1 1/2 hours away, went for a drink...and to watch the sunset. We talked to a Dutch lady married to a Guatemalan and decided to have dinner at Casa Blanca. Excellent choice....prawns stuffed with garlic and parsley butter. Delicious.
At 6a we left for Tikal driving first along the lake and then on to Tikal. With an English-speaking guide we headed off into the rainforest...jungle. He veered off the main road along a path pointing out tropical cedar, allsspice and mahogany trees. He showed us nuts of trees we could eat ina pinch. And he took us to an astrological formation with stelae in front. Complex Q like many has only had the fron excavated. The Mayans had vacated in 800-900 A.D. The jungle has taken over.
From here we made a circuitous b-line for Temple 4....the largest temple with meditation rooms on top. It is one of the few that can be climbed...and we climbed to the top. We expected to see Tikal but saw lots of forest with only the tops of a few temples peeking through.
We took the ladder down the way we had come. Our guide next led us by complex Mundo Perdido where a coatimundi....becoti... posed as it explored for food. It is a member of the raccoon family and is related to the coati of Costa Rica. Becoti are bigger with blond faces.
Behind temple 5 we saw 6 toucans and watched their antics as they ate fruit on a small palm tree. Blue headed maccaws paid a visit to higher trees.
We walked along the side of temple 5 into the Grand Plaza. We were pleased to see this area had been completely excavated. Tempple 5 stood across from the Jaguar Temple. At one time the face of a jaguar adorned this temple but it is limestone and time has all but erased the carvings.
Our guide left us here. We explored the Acropolis Norte. As with Copan, each king had destroyed and rebuilt buildings on the bases of others. At the Acropolis a jaguar mask 12 feet tall, 6 feet wide was discovered completely hidden. It now sits under cover for protection against the elements.
From here we to explore the Acropolis Central. We were able to get some excellent pics of the Jaguar Temple. We saw little green grassed plazas, as we wound our way through and down behind the Jaguar Temple.
Next we found the ancient mercado. Then we took the road back to the Tikal Comedor had lunch and caught the shuttle back to Flores.
We spent a quiet p.m. and when the temperature cooled, we went for a walk.
Today, we climbed the hill twice to the church...to take pics. We explored a few more lanes, saw the usual tourist shops and found ourselves ready to leave.