On the way to Guatemala I stopped for three days in San Ignacio in Belize, close to the border. This journey took around two to three hours from Belize City on a bumpy public bus. I simply went to the bus station, waited for the bus (they run around every 30 minutes during the day) got on and paid the conductor the princely sum of US$4.50. It isn’t the most comfortable bus I’ve ever been on, but the good thing about Belize is that it’s so small that no journey takes that long.
San Ignacio is a nice little place, however pretty much everything I intended to do there was rained off.
What to do in San Ignacio when it rains solidly for three days
Well, I spent a lot of time sat in cafes looking out at the rain.
I visited an Iguana farm in the back of the hotel San Ignacio Resort.
Sarah’s interesting (or not) iguana fact: Boy iguanas are orange, whilst the girls are green. When a boy wants to attract a girl he spreads out that little flap under his chin. This gets the ladies very excited.
The man actually gave us a lot of interesting iguana info however, as with any situation where you’re give a lot of information in a short period of time, I don’t remember so much of it now.
Afterwards you can continue climbing the hill for around fifteen minutes to get to Cathal Pech, where there is a small museum and some Mayan ruins. It’s a bit of an uphill climb, made worse in this case by the wet, slippery roads.
That pretty much exhausts the things to do in the town, and most of the excursions out of the town weren’t running because the roads were waterlogged.
I stayed for three days. On the third day the rain stopped and the sun came out, however the roads remained blocked; it was going to take a few more dry days to re-open everything.
I didn’t feel like sitting around waiting and so I headed on across the border into Guatemala and to Flores.
Flores is just an hour and a half away from San Ignacio. They had been enjoying much of the same weather over the past few days, however apart from some flooding around the periphery road, everything seemed to be working ok.
Flores is a ‘kinda’ Island (meaning it’s not really an island because there’s a road onto it). It’s just a small place, full of little picturesque coloured houses. The main activity is taking boat trips onto the lake, although I didn’t do that. The boat men were hustling for business but I really didn’t want to take a trip on my own. Apart from the cost I didn’t want to deal with a lecherous Guatemalan man telling me how beautiful I am the whole way (they all do it; maybe they think it will lead to a bigger tip, who knows?).
Instead I simply enjoyed walking around the colourful little streets.
The other main reason to visit Flores is to take a trip to Tikal. Tikal is the ruins of an ancient city, tucked away in the rainforest.
I took a sunrise excursion. It costs around £25/US$32 for the sunrise ticket, plus shared transport and guide for around £10/ US$12
They pick you up from your hotel around 3AM and it takes just over an hour to get there. There is then around forty minutes trekking through rainforest to get to the main ruin in time for sunrise. Then you can sit quietly and watch/listen to the jungle waking up. It was an amazing experience.
Tikal is simply stunning, one of the most fascinating Mayan ruins I have visited; you feel a bit like Indiana Jones beating down the jungle terrain to get to the temple.
However I don’t remember Indiana Jones scratching the whole way; after a few hours of being bitten constantly by mosquitoes I just wanted to dive in a shower and scrub at my skin.
As for Flores: it would be a nice place to kick back and relax for a while if you wanted, however I felt a couple of days was enough time to have a look around and do the main things. I was eager to head on to my penultimate destination for this little road trip.