Tikal Trip - So much happened on this trip I'll tell the story in chapter form.
31 March 2018 | The Bus to Flores
Chapter 1 - The BUS from Hades
We went to the bus station in Fronteras the day before our planned trip to check schedules and hopefully buy tickets. Nope, you have to buy the ticket the day of the trip for a specific bus. We learned that the air conditioned bus to Flores left at 11:30 and we were advised to be there by 11:00.
Captain Bob likes to be early so at 10:20 the day of our trip, I called for a Tuk Tuk to take us from RAM marina to the bus station, a five minute trip in normal circumstances. We're finding there is nothing normal in Guatemala especially Easter weekend.
At 10:55 no Tuk Tuk, the traffic on the bridge was stalled, a huge jam and our Tuk Tuk was on the bridge, so we started walking figuring to meet him and shorten the trip. Once in the Tuk Tuk, I told the driver we needed to catch the 11:30 bus and it was now 11:10. Well this guy was amazing, he bolted off jumping the line of cars, dodging oncoming cars and within a minute we were at the front of the line being pulled over by the police for getting out of line. This driver pulled to the side and then took off over the bridge leaving the police waving and hollering. Not too shabby; I tipped him generously.
We bought our tickets, $17.59 USD for the trip to Flores some 4 hours to the north and sat down to wait for the 11:30 bus, RIGHT!! At 13:00 it arrived and was already filled beyond seating capacity. I stepped into the bus to see people standing in the aisle and there were 20 or so more people wanting to get on. Picture 60 seats filled, the aisle filled and the bus guy screaming in Spanish for everyone in the aisle to move back, no one moved so he climbed over the seats and started pushing people back. Pandemonium extreme. We got on and moved down the aisle as far as we could with this guy yelling at us to move further back. Eventually 20 more people were crammed into the aisle, doors closed and we were off for potentially a four hour trip standing with no room turn or move, wedged body to body in a bus that was supposedly air conditioned, again RIGHT!!. The windows were opened, voila, air conditioning.
About two hours into the trip a few people from the rear wanted to get off. We were wedged so tightly together that we couldn't move and now people want to pass by us, holy cow!! When they got to me I tried to climb up onto the seat arm and slipped falling into the seat occupied by a very large breasted woman. I started laughing as I tried to get back up without grabbing a handful of you know what. Everyone around us was now laughing at this situation; back on my feet, I hugged the lady, apologizing as best I could, she was laughing so all was good, back to being wedged.
Now Alice's arms were getting sore hanging on to the rail above her head, so she thought of using my belt made into a loop around the window frame as a strap. As we did this maneuver, people around us were quite impressed and amused. Here we were, two Americans improvising to make a very uncomfortable situation a little more tolerable. We got lots of smiles.
Two hours into the journey on the bus from Hades, more people decided to get off and yup, they were all from the rear and had to pass by us. This time it went better with bodies sliding past none caring about who touched what or where. Then an amazing thing happened, a few more kilometers down the road a lot of people decided to get off and seats became available. Hurray for Bob and Alice we were sitting!! So the last two + hours were much better despite the rocking and rolling bus. We were traveling the main Guatemalan highway, G13. It was in much worse condition than partially paved secondary roads back home and the driver made no attempt soften the ride.
We pulled into Flores after 17:00 and were told to get off the bus. We complied although I was skeptical that we were about to be told we needed to pay more to get to the hotel. My worries were for naught, a guy appeared at just the right time and directed us to another much smaller bus that Alice and I plus two others got on for the short ride to our hotel on the island. No extra charge!! My, My.
Hotel Flores Boutique was our destination but first we had to stop at another bus station where they wanted to sell us Tikal transportation and the return to Rio Dulce. So once again I felt as though we were about to get worked over by a fellow who spoke only a little English. Not the case, the tickets to Tikal were less than I had anticipated, and due to the holiday weekend, there was only one bus back to Rio Dulce leaving Friday at 8:00 AM. Sign us up.
Finally we were within walking distance of our hotel. It turned to be an oasis, a suite with a living room, dining, kitchen, bed and bath, two air conditions, two large flat screen TVs, a pitcher of cold water in the refrigerator, WOW!. Out with the wine, order a pizza delivery and the Smithies were good to go!!
End of chapter one.