The trip from Xela to Flores was a long one – 13 total hours spent in a bus. We chose an overnight bus ride so it wouldn’t be too bad but nothing replaces sleeping in a real bed. At least we saved on a hotel room for that night. Regardless, we arrived in Flores at 6AM when the rest of the country was still waking up. It’s a tiny little island surrounded by Lago Petén Itzá. The first thing we noticed once we arrived was the dramatic change in climate. Xela was pleasant with cool breezes during the day and chilly at night (as it’s surrounded by mountains). By contrast, Flores was hot and humid. All. Day. Long. After finding a suitable hostel, we started exploring, scouting out several coffeeshops but none really seem to hit the spot. Apparently, we had been spoiled by Xela. Since we got to Flores on a Saturday and had missed the 4:30AM shuttle to Tikal, we decided to explore Flores all day and then head out to Tikal the next day. It was a good decision.
Seeking sufficient physical activity, we went running but quickly realized that Flores was too small to get a long run in. And it was getting really hot. And it was only the morning. The heat quickly turned exasperating. Nevertheless, we decided to venture out across the lake into a little village on the shore called San Miguel. We had read that there was a beautiful beach and some Mayan Ruins that you could hike to and of course, we couldn’t say no.
This was our own little concoction – vanilla milkshake (with macadamia nuts!) with a shot of espresso poured in. We’re brilliant. Obviously.The hike to the beach and ruins was definitely an interesting one. We read directions out of the guidebook we were using and they seemed to be correct but the distances listed were WAY off. On paper, it seemed like the hike would take maybe thirty minutes – it actually took us closer to an hour. But we eventually found the beach!
And it was worth the hike. Given how hot Flores is year-round, it was no surprise that the water was considerably warm. It was the perfect temperature. The shore was especially rocky, which made it difficult to walk on, but we adapted and crab-walked our way deeper into the water.
Afterwards, we sought to find those ruins or, I should say, “archaeological site.” We weren’t really sure what to expect, especially given that once we got to the site, we were greeted by two sets of these monstrous stairs.
At the top, we found nothing but a spectacular view. The site is called El Mirador
and it makes sense – you can see everything from the top. Apparently, it was where the native Mayan tribe would keep a look-out on the surrounding villages. I was a bit disappointed that there weren’t any tangible ruins to climb around but I’m glad we made the trip. In the picture below, the island you see is Flores itself, where we were staying.
My boyfriend, ladies and gentlemen.
Our boat ride back to Flores was steered by this really cute boy (who couldn’t have been older than eight).
Once we were back on the main island, the sun was still burning strong. There were plenty of docks alongside the island where people could swim off and that’s exactly what we did. Well, Chris did. I sat in the sun and photographed everyone else. I did jump in once though!
The sunset in Flores was a spectacular event. The photo below has only been cropped – the colors are real.