Guatemala Diaries: going north to El Peten

442443446441Breakfast at  the Catamaran is quite lovely. There is not a lot of variety which makes me savor the dishes more. I find I am attracted to their dark brown big cookies that they call Polveroso. I can see why, they powder in my mouth. We realize Arty will leave us today and we will have a new guide to get us to Tikal in El Peten.  Arty and the boatman place all our luggage on the bigger boat and we sit on the benches to get off at a point where the bus will pick us up.  We have spent the past two days on water!  Soon we arrive where the bus will be waiting for us.  Arty looks uneasy and once the bus comes and we get in,he tells us that there were wild dogs near the dock area and he did not want us to linger.  Arty and Manuel get off in the middle of an intersection and we bid our goodbyes to them. The new guide is ready for us in the bus. Let’s call him Bugs Bunny. Bugs is eager to please and goes into the history of El Peten, the northern region of Guatemala. I am too sleepy to listen and catch snatches of his talk, when suddenly he points out the Belize border which is high up on a hill with flags.

Bugs drones on and on.  The poor fellow must be so tired talking to a quiet bus.  We finally arrive at a shopping mall and see a Chinese Restaurant. We all want that today. The food is actually very good. ( I remember teaching English as a Second language and asking my students who came from Central  American countries about their favorite food and they would invariably say:”Chinese food.”)  Bugs and the driver eat with us, asking for tortillas to go with their rice and chicken dish. Only in Guatemala can you have your tortillas with Chinese food. But in India they make Chinese food with Indian spices and if my Indian friends come to the US they would be thoroughly disappointed with Chinese food there. And everyone who goes to China says the food there is totally different from all of this.

We finish our lunch and get back to the van in the mall. We see an armed guard and I am completely unnerved by this experience. Why do they need a man with a gun in a mall?

We get to Flores and know we are close to Tikal which we will see tomorrow.  Paco and Juanita leave us at a hotel there and we hug them European-style( hug, kiss one cheek, hug, kiss the other cheek) I shall miss them, they were so full of energy, especially Juanita. We go through a wooded area on a dirt road and see a hotel called Gringo Perdido which looks quite lovely from the road.  We keep going passing several hotels and arrive at Camino Real, Tikal.

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