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The trip this past March of 2010, just in time for some early Easter Week Antigua festivities, was a revelation in many ways.
First DO NOT DRIVE! Take the 'Chicken Bus' or fly....Well if you had lots of time and knew the roads better, which are full of large axel braking POT HOLES that come out of nowhere with disturbing frequency.
Then there are the "TUMULOS", steep-sided speed bumps seemingly designed to rip off your oil pan, and positioned with great stealth before and after every little hamlet. These are
especially bad between Flores and say Coban along Route 5. Also there are few hotels and not a whole lot to see in many places and some of it can be quite disturbing to those concerned with
de-forestation, environmental degradation, rural poverty, army road blocks, etc...
That said: GO MAN GO!!!
Tikal is truly one of the world's most fascinating places, with a profound spirit of mystery and wonder
everywhere, especially at dawn or dusk when the animals are out and the people are gone; whether you're on top of Temple IV or not. So SuperT says stay in the National Park at the Tikal Inn.
The cabanas are nice, the pool cooling, the frozen fruit smoothies delicious, the owners friendly and the staff helpful, they filled my rental car's leaking tire with air.
They may even have electricity full time with battery power at night by now. The island town of Flores is a Hoot! Lots of places to stay and restaurants with good lake views.
An excellent over-nighter or two or 'ex-pat'. The new lake front Promenade will be great when finished but there are way to many Tuk-Tuks (red three wheeled enclosed stinking loud golf cart things used as taxis), especially on the mainland, so watch out.
One of the highlights, and this is one of those Bucket List items, is "Semana Santa" (Easter Week) in Antigua. The streets are decorated with flowers and paintings and there are parades
at night and day that will enchant you, see photos. The people are great the restaurants are good and reasonable like the hotels, ours was the Aurora Hotel on 4th Calle Oriente. Even the street vendors are respectful
and actually charming, if at times persistent, since usually they are the beautiful petite Maya women who make the mostly woven things they sell. Parque Central is the happening place
for people watching and has an interesting Mermaid Fountain and Cathedral with an ornate facade beautifully lit at night.
There are also many other picturesque ruined churches around town left over from the numerous earth quakes (which actually caused the town to be officially abandoned), very photogenic like the women in Maya dress.
Shopping is excellent for handi-carfts and cloths and local art work, good coffee too. Antigua is just an easy 25 or 30 dollar
45 minute cab ride from the Guatemala City airport. I liked it a lot. Can't wait to go back. Christmas perhaps?
The next big hop is across the pond for a fall trip into the heart of Italy, Rome-Florence-Venice.
Taking the mother-in-law for her first trip to Europe. Ever expanding travel experiences as seen through the eyes of a first-timer.
Which will no doubt reveal to me things otherwise missed.
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