World Travel

Small island near the boat. We anchored here on our last night Swimming in the lake
Small island near the boat. We anchored here on our last night
Swimming in the lake
Our "huge cabin" on the boat One of the last views from deck. Rio Dulce lies just ahead
Our "huge cabin" on the boat
One of the last views from deck. Rio Dulce lies just ahead

16. April: I woke up on the boat earlier than usual, it must have been due to some noise in the jungle or the heat or some movement on the vessel.  Everything seemed so quiet and peaceful. I decided to have an early morning swim from the boat. Annewien helped attach the ladder to the side of the boat so we could climb into the water.  So in we went!  The water was warmer than it looked and wonderfully refreshing.  Soon after we got out of the water, our cook Hans had breakfast ready. Today it was a type of pancake. With it's cardboard taste, you couldn't eat is as is - some of our fellow passengers were generously applying butter and grape jelly on it. That was the only way it tasted like something.  There was hardly any wind, so Cap started the boat's motor and the boat glided through the smooth water. It was not long when he stopped again. Everyone was allowed a swim here. There was a lot of wild jumping into the water, but somehow the mood on the boat was down-beat. There was no music, which was quite odd and not much talking.  Then Cap suddenly broke the silence by turning on his tape deck with a romantic-songs collection. I'd suspected something with one or both of the single girls and this sort of confirmed it. Perhaps everyone was a bit sad that today was the last day of the sailing trip. Everyone did seem to want an extension!

Wir werden durch die Sonne und laut schreiende Affen gegen 5.30 h geweckt. Die ersten Frñhaufsteher beginnen sich zu bewegen. Es ist, abgesehen von den schreienden Affen, unglaublich ruhig, die Wasseroberflñche spiegelglatt, der Wind vñllig abgeflacht. Roman macht einen Morgenschwumm. Ich glaube, wir haben eine neue gemeinsame Passion entdeckt: Wasser! In, auf oder unter Wasser, alles, wo man sich im Nassen bewegen kann, tut gut. Es freut mich, dass Roman die Segelreise mag, obwohl vieles beim Segeln ja beschwerlich ist: Badezimmer und Schlafzimmer sind eng. Duschen ist nicht mñglich, waschen tut man sich entweder mit dem Eimer oder im Wasser selbst. Auch Rasieren ist aufwñndig und auf diese Weise sehe ich Roman erstmals mit 4-Tage-Bart. Es scheint ihm nicht viel auszumachen, zum Glñck!Heute Morgen ist eine Totenstille an Bord. Die einen haben vermutlich einen Kater, die anderen eine durchwachte Nacht und ein paar andere sind mñde vom nackt-nachtbaden….


Our Catamaran in Rio Dulce Cap on his transfer boat
Our Catamaran in Rio Dulce
Cap on his transfer boat

We sailed on to the harbour at Rio Dulce where we had started our journey 3 days ago.  There was a big discussion raging on board between the others as to how they would continue their further travels. Six of the passengers wanted to somehow continue to Copan in Honduras, and they were debating how best to make the trip. Most wanted to take a shuttle to there and share the cost. The option of staying another night on the boat was also open, perhaps out of nostalgia, perhaps due to it being a cheap option, although I couldn't imagine it to be for it's comfort!  Cap took his outboard and headed quickly off to land, as usual without saying a word where he was going to and when he was going to back.  It took quite awhile and then we saw him making his way back in another small outboard. Most probably the outboard on board was not suitable to carry 3 people plus luggage.  We were the first to board the boat since I was quite happy to be heading back towards land again (I certainly was the only one!).  When we landed, we shook hands with Cap and bade him farewell, now was his turn to be feeling sour. Perhaps it was because we only gave him a tip of 20 Quetzales (the cook got 30Q, we felt he had done much more using "PMM ratings"). Well, it was his own fault. A more cheerful, talkative and informative captain would have earned more, but I guess he was just reflecting his inner attitude and that's not really what us tourists wanted to see during holidays. After getting off the boat we headed straight to the Pizzeria Bar at the pier.  Annewien meanwhile went to the bus station to check our bus connection with Linea Dorada to Flores/Tikal. It took quite a while till she came back. She said that our ticket was 'invalid', since it was apparently 'unconfirmed'! Well, darn!  Anyway, we decided to eat first. We ordered a Pizza Margarita between us, discussed our plan and then went back to the bus agent together.  The agent at least let us call Miguel, our travel agent in Panajachel. He actually was there in his office and said everything was 'ok' and he couldn't confirm yet because of the Semana Santa holidays. I handed over the handset with Miguel on the line to the bus lady and they talked for quite awhile. Miguel seemed to have a way with Guatemalan women: she was smiling straight away when she started talking to him and nothing was a problem anymore! I made the mistake afterwards to ask her how much the call cost and she had the nerve to say 8 Q. The bus would leave at 14:30 instead of the 13:30 as Miguel had stated in Panajachel, but at least we could travel. So we went back to the Pizzeria for a beer-wait, it was so hot in Rio Dulce at midday!  While in the Pizzeria, John the Swede walks in, sits at our table and we converse. He has a Tommy Hilfiger T-Shirt on, he says he buys them dirt cheap for about 10Q, wears them till they're dirty and then just throws them away! He is a truck driver back in Sweden, and he seems quite proud and happy that he is one, says he earns well. He's off to Antigua next.

Um 11.00 h werden wir vom Captain wieder an Land gebracht. Wir versuchen herausszufinden, von wo aus unser Bus nach Tikal startet. Schlimme Nachrichten: Die Frau am Schalter meint, unsere Reservation sei nicht bestñtigt (und wir hatten sie bereits bezahlt!) und der Bus fahre erst um 14.30 h. Wir rufen unseren Travel Agent in Panajachel an und der bringt die Sache zum Glñck wieder in Ordnung.

Riverside Pizzeria at Rio Dulce: Start and End-point of the sailing trip In the luxury Linea Dorada bus to Tikal
Riverside Pizzeria at Rio Dulce: Start and End-point of the sailing trip
In the luxury Linea Dorada bus to Tikal

The bus to Flores is pure luxury, with the driver dressed like an airline pilot, a hostess on board who serves coffee, and really great seats. It's a double-decker style of bus, with seats high off the road. We climb the stairs to the upper deck and take our seats.

The bus takes off, strangely driving quite slowly. 10 minutes into our ride we haven't gotten far and we suddenly stop right after Rio Dulce!

It gets so hot inside the bus, while we wait, wait, wait. We change seats, hoping to find a cooler place out of the sun.

Suddenly the video flickers on and they show the movie 'Red Planet'. I'm not really in the mood for a video, so I try to doze a bit.

Annewien goes to check what's going on, it seems the personnel is busy with their sleeves up trying to repair some unidentified part of the bus. The stewardess says that once the problem is fixed we'll be on our way 'muy rapido'.

It seems like forever till we take off again! It is 17:00. The driver actually does drive 'muy rapido', which is a bit too fast for my liking! It's starting to get dark now. Moreover the bus has quite a soft suspension and I'm concerned that we'll be off the road if we'd go any faster!

The visit to the toilet was quite a hair raising experience, trying to hold on to something and anything while peeing, careful not to bump some fragile body parts (such as my head) against the toilet.

At last we reach first Santa Elena and then Flores and the whole town is in DARKNESS, no lights at all!

Um 14.45 h kommt der Bus endlich. Er fñhrt sehr langsam und nach 10 Minuten hat er eine Panne und hñlt am Strassenrand an. Wir warten eineinhalb Stunden, bis alles repariert ist. Zum Glñck hat der Bus eine AC und wir bekommen ein Kaffee-ñhnliches Getrñnk serviert. Die Fahrt fñhrt durch eine schñne Landschaft, sehr grñn und viele Palmen. Um 19.30 h kommen wir in Flores an. Alles ist stockdunkel und etwas unheimlich. Plñtzlich dñmmert es uns: Stromausfall! Mir kommen die Armed Robbers in den Sinn.

The countryside on the way the Tikal The fork Santa Elena, Tikal. It's night by now
The countryside on the way the Tikal
The fork Santa Elena, Tikal. It's night by now

They have a power failure in Flores and there are no streetlights, which doesn't really help with our vision of 'armed robbers' lurking everywhere there is any darkness! I'm really thankful that we already have a booked hotel room in Flores and that we don't have to look for one right now!

Flores is quite small, and with the help of the small map in Lonely Planet and asking someone in the street we found our Hotel 'La Mesa de los Maya'. The hotel has candles lit in the lobby, the guy at the reception knows we were coming, so he took us straight to our room.

The room has a/c (air conditioner) and is quite nice. Annewien goes to our room neighbours (since everyone has their doors open because of the missing light) so see if they have some candles.

Soon, the electricity is back again and we're glad it wasn't away for long.

We hit the street to find a place to eat. We walk a bit through the small streets of Flores, and after checking two or three rather uninspiring restaurants, we eat in a young touristy 'English' restaurant with rather exceptionally good food (imagine, I had a chicken cordon bleu!). They had a video movie running on TV in English and everyone's gaze was transfixed to the tube.

We'd wanted to do some Internet afterwards as well, but the last store was just closing at 22:00 (boy was it hot inside!) so no surfing today.

We walk to the town square, which is slightly elevated and check out a place playing some salsa. But there's just one couple dancing inside and it's too hot to dance anyway, so we head back to our hotel.

At the reception, we book the bus transport to Tikal for the next morning.

We sleep with our a/c alternately on and off, since it is still quite warm outside.

Ich krame sofort meine Taschenlampe hervor und wir begeben uns eiligst auf die Hotelsuche. Zum Glñck ist Flores so klein, dass wir unser Hotel auch im Dunkeln finden. Es ist sehr sauber und gepflegt. Und endlich haben wir wieder etwas mehr Platz. Ich bin todmñde. Wir gehen noch etwas essen um 22.00 h kippe ich ins Bett. Alles andere verschieben wir auf Morgen.

Continue to 17.4 Tikal