Normally when we travel, we like to do one day of activity and follow it with a day of unstructured rest and meandering. After touring the Mayan ruins of Tikal, we were set to explore the little island of Flores. We were hoping to have a nicely leisurely day, strolling around, eating street food and relaxing.
The island is small, situated in the middle of a lake and connected to the next town, Santa Elena by a bridge. Most people visiting Tikal stay on the island for its proximity to the National Park, a one hour drive away.
Holy Week Hotness
There are days you want to be somewhere, and other days when you just want to get out of the place you’re in. Oh my word! I cannot explain to you how stifling the morning was. It was hot. We headed outside anyway, since inside wasn’t much cooler.
Banking in Central America = Cool
We had to exchange our dollars into quetzals, the currency of Guatemala. Banking in Central America means waiting in lines. It was hot outside and the security guard at the door was keeping his authority intact by not letting too many people inside the nice, air conditioned bank. Finally, when we reached the front of the line we started to walk into the bank, only to be stopped by him. He told us only 1 person could go in…sadly, that would be Mr. King. I didn’t feel like messing with a guy holding a huge, clearly visible gun in both of his hands. The kids and I waited outside in the sweltering heat. Every once in a while the door would open and we would enjoy the cool burst of air. We eventually encouraged him to let us inside by staring at him with pleading eyes to which we did oblige. If I lived here in this heat, I’d be banking every single day.
Eating in the Central Park
We headed to the Central Park to eat street food, find shade and figure out how we are going to spend the day. The food in Guatemala is excellent, full of flavor. I was surprised how many vendors were selling meat, since this is a sacred week for Catholics, most avoid meat until Easter Sunday. Mr. King got meat tacos and I got great vegetarian tacos filled with beets, cabbage, carrots and a ton of other stuff. All tasty.
We didn’t find much to do in Flores, or its central park, mainly due to the heat. We sat in the shade eating tacos and mangoes. The park itself is shaded with lots of benches to sit on. But…there are a ton of parrots that nest in all the trees and every bench is covered in bird poop. The most interesting thing I found in the Central Park were these:
We were amused at the tiny little cabs, called Tuk-tuks. Take a look at these efficient little taxis.
Don’t be fooled by their size though. It looks like it only fits 2-3 people, but we were able to fit 4 adults & 5 children with 1 piece of luggage on one of these.
We were so hot, we took one of these across the bridge to Santa Elena to what looked like an American style mall. Normally, not our style, but we were searching for air-conditioning. No such luck. We dug in the deepest parts of our selves and headed to Pollo Campero, a fast food chicken restaurant. “I can’t believe this is our only option here”, but we go in anyway.
The place was PACKED! School vacations, Semana Santa and the fact that Central Americans love fried chicken made this place as rowdy as a Chuckie Cheese on steriods. We played for about 5 minutes before the smell of fried chicken and the insanity of the place told us to just leave. So, we hopped back into a Tuk-tuk and went to the lakeside of Flores, hoping that a breeze was going to present itself.
We sat in the shade of a little cafe along the shore, catching the slightest breeze every once in a while and wishing we had taken the overnight bus last night. Luckily, the beer was very cold and there was wifi available for Facebook updates informing everyone that military trucks with machine guns were driving by or that my cleavage is sweating. I know you all enjoyed those.
It was just a waiting game for us, waiting to get on the Overnight bus, that would be air-conditioned, for our trek to Antigua.
Nightfall on the Shores of Flores, Guatemala
Around 4-6 pm, the waters edge of Flores gets busy. Vendors set up selling food, drinks and jewelry. Music is playing and it seems like most of Flores is outside enjoying the evening.
But we just wanted to get on to the bus from Flores to Antigua.
More pictures of our day in Flores