When we arrived at the border Belize to Guatemala at late morning, we expected worst and counted with hours of waiting and paper work. But everything went fine! In 10 minutes we got the exit stamps at Belize customs, changed our last Belize Dollars to Quetzales, went through the fumigation and a young child showed us where to go at the Guatemalan border. Immigration was only one stamp into the passport without questions.
The registration of the car took another 15 minutes and checking the vehicle registration number of our van was the only inspection. We were surprised. Only about one hour at the border is definitely a new record. At the border town Melchor de Mencos we looked for a cajero (ATM) and refilled our food storage at a supermarket. It was much cheaper than the weeks before! Close after midday we were ready to go to El Remate, our first destination in Guatemala at the Lago Peten Itza.
At a restaurant they gave us a campsite next to the lake. That panorama was unbelievable! We enjoyed the place, relaxed and tasted the new beer. It was a bit cloudy and unexpected cold (only 22 °C/72 °F), but we heard about snow in Austria and we preferred staying there. J For dinner we went to a little pizzeria and were amazed of the taste. It was probably one of the best pizzas we ever had in our whole life! We were wondering to find it in Guatemala.
Next morning the weather turned better and after a refreshing swim in the lake we continued to the Maya Ruins of Tikal. It was one of or the biggest Maja population ever and between 800 BC and 900 AD the town was spread in the peak time to about 65 km². In this national park they recovered buildings at a size of 18 hectares (about 44 acres) and had not finished restorations. On the paths you see with a bit luck many of great animals (howler monkeys, lineated woodpecker, occellated turkey, coatimundi, …).
With the jungle surrounding you discover the great ruins. From the two-headed snake temple with a height of 70 meters you have an amazing view all around. We were really fascinated of all the great buildings around. Visiting Grand Plaza, the most famous place of Tikal, is an experience you will never forget. The view from the Mascarones Temple to the plaza of the Big Jaguar Temple is really breath taking! We have seen many Maya ruins, but these ones and Palenque were the best.
For the night we stayed about 40 km southwest at the Parque Natural Ixpanapajul. It was a nice facility where we camped alone again. Horses and donkeys around are a good natural grass mower and fertilizers. Next morning we went to Flores, an island in the Lago Peten Itza. American people we met compared it with Venice in Italy. Yes, it is beautiful, but these guys had never been to Venice and it is not comparable with it.
Heading south we passed Poptun and stayed for one night the Parque National Las Conchas at the parking lot of the Balnearios. It was funny, because the locals were very interested in the new strangers. A local said that not many foreign people find this place. Little curious children were all the time around and asked us questions. Difficult to communicate with our worse Spanish! A NINE year old girl presented her being a good wife. We negated the invitation to her home, but it was really cute.
Then we went to the Balneario and were amazed of the cascades. So beautiful with the jungle surrounding! At the evening we prepared a barbeque and when it got dark, the kids had to go home. When we woke up next morning, two children had been already waiting for us. We went back to the natural pools and did a refreshing good morning swim. Good start into the day!
Back at the van we washed the dishes in the river nearby. Many women watched us curiously and we were sure that they haven’t seen men doing dishes before. We made a photo of them and after showing it everybody on the display of the camera, we left and headed west. Our destination was Semuc Champey. It shall be the most beautiful place in Guatemala.