A bus - boat - bus journey brought me to Flores, a very nice village, which forms a tiny island in lago Peten Itza (connected by land by one bridge). I did the trip completely organised by an agency in Palenque but could as well have gone on my own initiative as it is very straightforward and much cheaper. At the end of the second bus drive, an anoying guy from a travel agency came to irritate us with a slow and very long explanation about the trips to the Maya ruins of Tikal. We must have looked like idiots because he repeated everything three times, but at the end we all seemed to be rather intelligent as no one bought something from this aggresive seller.
Flores is realy nice, with lots of nice restaurants and hostels, almost all of them at the lake side. In five minutes you can walk from one side of the island to the other through small alleys and eating dinner at the lake side while the sun sets is a great experience. There were plenty of options to arrange the visit to Tikal and I opted for the sunrise tour, which meant leaving the hostal at 3:00 am for the 1,5 hour drive to the ruins.
It was worth it though. After a half hour walk through the park we reached the highest point, temple 4, about 70 meter above the forest floor, from where we saw the sun rise and the other temples appear from the dark. That is one thing that makes Tikal such a special site, there are a lot of very high temples that arise above the forest. An other unique thing is that it is sooooo big and what you can see of it now is only a fraction of the total site, as lots of constructions are still overgrown by the forest. Also unique is the large amount of animals around: monkeys, all kinds of birds (toucans!!), coatimundis (of course you don´t know that one, see the picture to get to know it), wild turkeys, ...
It was the first time I did a guided tour of ruins here in Central America, and I must say it was very interesting. It was undoubtly partly due to the very good guide, but the site itself is even impressive when you don´t know anything about it s history. There are those big temples, with their steep, high stairs that give awsome views of the rest of the site, big plaza´s, ruins of buriel sites and residential areas which are like labyrinths, ... and as a whole it is an enormous, spectacular area in the middle of the jungle. Also George Lucas must have thought so, as part of the first star wars movie was filmed here. A star war is by the way a term from the Maya´s when their astonomists calculated the right time for an attac based on the stars, it would be called a star war.
Enough ruins for now though, on to the beaches of Belize!!