My sister came to visit me my last 10 days in Guatemala and we went on a 3 day tour of Livingston, Quirigua, Tikal, and a Spanish fort. We got picked up by a shuttle at our house at 6am. We then picked up a few more people around Antigua (from Iceland, Holland, and Chicago) and then headed for Quirigua. Quirigua was a small Mayan ruins town. We walked around and saw all of it in about 30 minutes (much smaller than the Copan, Honduran Mayan ruins). The shuttle was freezing cold from the air conditioning, and Quirigua was burning hot and humid.
After a few more hours of driving we got out at Puerto Barrios (on the east coast of Guatemala) and hopped a lancha (motor boat) to Livingston. When we all sat down on the boat we were excited for a beautiful boat ride. The boat driver brought out two tarps and said “lot o water.” We all had no idea what we were doing with the tarps and the guy chose not to give any directions, perhaps assuming we all only spoke English, and that was all of the English he knew, so we all sat there. He put one of the tarps back and covered himself with the other.
After about 3 minutes in the boat we were all soaked and sick to our stomachs. After about 10 minutes the boat driver realized I could speak Spanish and asked if I thought the sea and sky were beautiful. I had no idea whether the sea or sky was beautiful because I could not see, my eyes were full of water. After 45 minutes, we were on land again proud of having survived.
My sister and I showered and then walked around Livingston. Livingston is not an island, but is only accessible by boat and has a large Garifuna population (black population). The island is very cute and safe. They told us there is no crime in Livingston because they depend on tourism. We walked the entire town in about 30 minutes passing by tons of restaurants, houses, boats, and beautifully colorful cemeteries. We tried the two local dishes- tapada (a delicious seafood soup) and coco loco (a drink where they go grab a coconut, slice it open, add a few items, and then you drink the delicious coconut milk from the coconut). They were both too die for.
The next day we were not surprised to see that our “beautiful sailboat ride” had turned into a survival experience on a lancha trying to get across the “beautiful rio dulce” as quickly as possible. When we first boarded the boat the waves were crashing down on the boat. The boat was filled with water and it was very difficult to step into the boat without getting your feel smashed by something hard such as the boat or the dock. It was pouring rain and a little scary. Once we made it from the sea to the rio dulce, things calmed down quite a bit though. It was not sunny, but the river was still beautiful. There were families, men, and women paddling canoe like boats down the river. People were fishing. Birds were flying. We thought we had made it across when we docked. Turns out we were just stopping at the house of the boat driver to drop off some flowers.
Short after, we arrived at Flores, the beautiful, cute town near Tikal. We wanted to explore the small island during our one hour, but it started to pour so we just ate at a restaurant close by. The limonada was delicious.
We hopped back in the car and made it to our main destination, Tikal (the largest Mayan ruins in Guatemala). We took the sunset tour of the ruins. We saw howler and spider monkeys. We listened to a guide make up information about the ruins. Everytime one lady would ask a question (regarding something she had read in a guide book) he did not know how to respond. You can never know whether people are talking fact or fiction here. We climbed a pyramid and watched the “sunset.” It was a beautiful view up above the tall zapote trees, we could see for miles. Unfortunately the clouds blocked the sunset.
The next morning we went ziplining in the Tikal forest. It was fun, but very rushed. We then drove back to Antigua via a Spanish fort. The fort was actually pretty interesting. It was small and yet you could spend a long time exploring all of the little passageways. It’s surrounding on a waterway and lush greenery were beautiful.
I have decided that all of the Guatemalan paisaje is breathtaking!