Journey into the Land of Mayan History
29 November 2012 | El Remate
Beth / overcast, light drizzle off and on
This little trip started by lancha from Casey’s, continued by bus and finished with a van ride to El Remate in the Petan. And it really felt like a journey by the time we got there.
We hadn’t been able to buy our tickets for the Linea Dorada bus when we were in town earlier in the week because their system was down, so Keith took us upriver under light drizzle on Wednesday morning – in lots of time for the 3pm bus. We got the tickets, had lunch at Bruno’s, bought nuts from the nutman, and waited. And waited. And waited. Unlike the Litegua station, Linea Dorada is just a desk – no waiting area except the sidewalk. It was hot, there was more drizzle, we were tired of standing, so by the time the bus finally came at 4 we fell into our seats. It gets dark here by 5:30 so for much of this trip through new countryside, we couldn’t see anything. Terry remarked that he was glad we weren’t at the front of the bus because we tore along the roads between slow passes over numerous speed bumps, a stop for the agriculture inspectors to check bags for fruit that might bring fruit flies into the region (a cursory check that was pretty much ineffective) and another stop in the middle of nowhere where Sue saw the driver inspecting a wheel. We arrived without incident at the Santa Elena bus station (4 hour trip) after a stop just across the causeway in Flores to disgorge a few passengers. Rene was right at the foot of the steps with a sign for us and we piled into his van for the half hour ride to El Remate.
We had decided to stay at La Casa de Don David because of: a) a recommendation from other cruisers, b) a brochure (showing the hotel and gardens right on the lake) that we had seen at El Tortugal, and c) the fact that it is closer to Tikal than the hotels in Flores. I always check hotels in the Lonely Planet guide and on Trip Advisor too, and this place scored well everywhere. Mel called while we were in the van to ask what we’d like for dinner so they could have it ready (because we were so late, the dining room would otherwise be closed), and when we got there he showed us to our rooms, handed out our vouchers for the next morning’s tour and sat us down to enjoy drinks and dinner. (www.lacasadedondavid.com)
We were up early the next morning for a 5:30 pick up to the park, and I’ll describe Tikal in a separate posting. After our return from the site about 1pm, we downed a quick lunch and headed to our rooms for naps. The rooms are fairly basic, but all are air-conditioned with hot water showers. The true value of the place is in the level of service, the vast array of reading material available – on Mayan history, flora and fauna of the area – and David’s garden that he delights in escorting visitors around. Oh yes, and then there is the Toucan Express! – This zipline system sends drinks to the observation deck on the far side of the garden and is a blast to use.
Kelsey (at the desk) arranged a 6:20 pick up for us on Friday morning to deliver Sue and Terry to the airport for a Taca flight to Guatemala City, and Jim and me to the bus station for our trip back to Rio Dulce.
It was a wonderful visit to El Petan area, and a fitting finish to a wonderful visit with Sue and Terry. We packed a lot into 9 days – La Antigua, Livingston, Tikal, and still had time for leisurely days afloat on Madcap in the Rio Dulce.