On to Guatemala we go!
Yesterday we woke up not so bright and breezy in San Ignacio, Belize. We grabbed some breakfast, and by grabbed I mean the lady served me four waffles as a portion. I love my food but four waffles is extreme.
We then went up to Cahal Pech Maya Ruins. We paid a small entry fee and we were the only people there. It’s a small site but impressive none the less. It’s completely open and you can explore it all unlike Tulum in Mexico. There’s lots to do in San Ignacio such as river tubing and caving etc but the prices are so hiked up it’s insane. We only stayed one night then continued on our way.
We went back into town and packed our things then headed to the bus stop. We got back on the ‘Benque’ bus and actually headed to Benque this time. The bus was packed full. It was market day in SI so everyone had been shopping. A short 40p ride and we were there. Then a quick taxi to the border point and we went out of Belize and into Guatemala.
The border agent charged us 20Q each which is illegal but they still do it, but rather than argue with him and risk him not allowing us to enter Guatemala we paid up the £1.40. We then made the decision that we will continue travelling the local way and not the gringo way. We walked up into the Guatemala border town and flagged down a collectivo. Now there’s a massive difference between Mexican and Guatemalan collectivos. Mexican collectivos have aircon for a start. We handed over our luggage to be stowed on the outside roof rack. We set off in our 1980s uber mini minivan, paid our 30Q each (£2.10) and that was that. The windows were all smashed and the seats had seen better days but it was a fairly comfortable 2 hour journey. Alot of the road hasn’t been cemented yet so you had an offroad experience for your pennies too.
My logic is that what will robbers go for, a tourist bus carrying 12 foreigners who have money and valubles or a chicken bus carrying 20 locals who are in poverty and all they are carrying is a machette and a bunch of bananas. I’ll stick with the local bus full of farmers who have been to market. Just blending in with local life.
There’s a market difference between Belize and Guatemala. In Guatemala 50% of people are below the poverty line, only 70% of the urban population can read and write and only 30% of kids finish primary school. Child labour is still massive here. I’ve seen a few tourist families with kids here and it’s something I agree with. In the UK and westernised countries kids don’t know what it’s like to go without and apparently going without nowadays is not having an iphone. Nevermind a pair of shoes. I think kids should see places like this to learn to appreciate life and what they have. Especially access to free and quality education. I hate hearing kids say ‘I don’t like school’, there’s loads of kids here that would love to go to school instead of work on the farm for a day. Maybe we should send UK kids to the farm to see how much they would prefer to go to school.
We arrived to Santa Elena then took a Tuk tuk to Flores. Now having had a bad experience with a tuk tuk I’m not keen on them but it seems they are the taxi service here so I went with it. We paid 70p and he dropped us to our hotel. The hotel has alot else to be desired. It’s warmer in the room than outside, the bathroom hasn’t got walls all the way up and the mattress has bottomed out. We have a tikal tour booked for 3am anyway and then a night bus tomorrow so it’s only really the shower and glorified storage that I need. Good job it’s Rafe and I and not a fellow traveler that I may have only known for a day. You’d be more than friends by the end of your stay here. There are fans in the room but it sounds as if a helicopter is trying to land.
Flores is a little island on the lake, mainly hotels and restaurants but convenient for Tikal National Park.
We had a quick Guatemalan style meal and then headed to bed. Just as we were dropping off to sleep a lizard climbed on Rafes arm and it took him ages to shoo it out the room. Up nice and early at 2am for our day trip, who needs sleep anyway.