A Travellerspoint blog

July 2015

...And then the ATM stole our money!?!

Our short time in Flores and Lanquin.


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Yep this actually happened! But more on that shortly...
We sadly left Caye Caulker and made it to Belize City. It was an hour wait for our shuttle but to be honest with our red hot sunburn that hour felt like we had been stuck in a sauna forever. Every moment was agony and every small scrap of sun feel like it was a scalding hot kettle being but against my skin! We got through the border with no issues and fees from Guatemala (apparently this happens quite a bit). When we arrived in Flores, our first stop in Guatemala, a man they call "The Coyote" got into our shuttle. I had read about this man in numerous blogs and forms. Basically he goes in and tries to get people to buy his tours and stay at his hotels. He did a random stop at ATMs but due to this guys reputation I wasn't convinced that we should use them so opted to wait for the one in Flores. We arrived at our hostel, thankful to be out of heat and to have our bags off our red hot backs. Our hostel told us that there was one ATM on the island and directed us there. We arrived to the ATM and put our card in. Everything seemed normal until the transaction started processing... And processing...And processing. 5mins of the machine saying it was processing and no noise of the money being counted to be dispensed and then we had our card returned with no receipt and no dineros! The ATM was in a small store and there was no bank of that type on the island we were staying. As soon as we returned to our hostel (moneyless) Lewis checked his account to find the money had been taken out. At this point another worker at the hostel explained there are actually TWO ATMS in the town and that the other was in hotel. He also explained this had happened three times this week. Needless to say I had a go at them for not telling us the full facts the first time! The response... Yeah maybe we should start telling people about the other one. Thankfully my Mum and KiwiBank came to the rescue and we got our money back within a week. :)

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That evening we headed out as the sun went down to explore the small town of Flores. The view of the lake as the sun went down was stunning and just the down time we needed after a stressful afternoon.

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We opted to see Tikal at sunset rather than sunrise as it apparently is really misty in the morning and to be honest the idea of having to get up at 3am didn't really do it for me. We left Flores in the middle of a thunderstorm at 11am and arrived in Tikal to a overcast and warm afternoon.
We started off seeing some of the older ruins and seeing a tarantula. This thing was massive!! We then headed off to the main central area of Tikal. Where two of the smaller (but still massive) pyramids were as well as some of the residences.

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We continued through the jungle seeing Toucans, monkeys and parrots. The howler monkeys were going crazy the whole afternoon due to the change of pressure and the impending rain for the area. We finally reached Pyramid 4, the most famous in Tikal as it was in Star Wars. We climbed to the top and the view over the jungle was stunning. You could hear the howler monkeys and seeing the peaks of the temples far away. It really was an amazing sight. It is hard to imagine the forest was that high that the temples didn't tower out of the tree tops. We headed back to the centre and sadly due to the cloud our sunset was a dud.

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We walked back in the dark and saw fireflies for the first time. They are so pretty! You could also see plenty of eyes staring at you as you walked past. We'd decided that day that we would rush to Spanish school in San Pedro and have a quick stop in Lanquin on the way. The lack of Spanish was definitely becoming more of a problem.

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We took a shuttle and 8 hours later going across rivers on barges and down a long gravel road we arrived. We opted to stay in Lanquin itself rather than in one of the remote hostels. Our hostel was definitely interesting and our host an amazing guy! He had us out in a tuk-tuk to the bat caves within an hour of us arriving. It was awesome walking through the massive formations in the cave. We discovered our first snake and also discovered it was highly poisonous! The best part was Lewis didn't even see it and walked over it and then was chicken to walk back over it. As the sunset we got the part we wanted we stood at the entrance to the cave and thousands of bats flew past us out into the night to feed. I don't know how they managed not to hit us. It was actually amazing!!!

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The next day we jumped on the back of a pick up truck and took the long and bumpy road to Semuc Champey. By the time we made stops it took us an hour to get there. It was straight up to the lookout to see what all of the fuss was about. At that point I was pretty stoked I had my sandals. While Lewis slipped in his boots my sandals somehow helped me stay upright. We walked down to the pools. They are pretty spectacular. There is a roaring river that reaches them but then goes underground and comes out on the other side of the pools. The pools are feed with fresh water from springs that come up nearby. We headed back exhausted after our long day. Our way back included crossing the dodgiest bridge I have ever seen!! The planks moved A LOT!

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That night our hostels pub was full to the brim with locals. A few of the local boys who had a night off from working at the hostels were around so we were able to chat with them about life in the village. It was at this point I realised that our hostel basically worked like one big family. It was a great place. The next day we were off on a 15 hour shuttle to San Pedro in the early hours of the morning. It was one of our hottest rides yet and it was on this ride that we realised apparently it's normal in Guatemala to make out for the whole entire shuttle ride ( yep it had happened on 2/2 shuttles!)

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Posted by chellebelle 16:32 Archived in Guatemala Tagged caves jungle snake flores tikal bats corruption semuc champey atm shuttles Comments (1)

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