Antigua at 4am. Not very exciting. A few chicken buses coming and going, a few shuttle buses (or maybe just mine). Lots of homeless people sleeping outside the shops near the market.
Got to the airport by 5am, checked in, got a coffee, and went to the boarding gate at 5.30am. Had to walk along the runway to the small plane, feeling like The Beatles. No sooner had we reached cruising altitude and were told we could play gameboys, than we were coming in to land. Some dickhead on the opposite side of the plane to me left his phone on for the whole flight. I thought everyone knew the safety drill, but they played it for us anyway, and he still didn’t switch it off! Not that I’m a nervous flyer or anything…
So Flores airport is actually in Santa Elena, which is right beside Lago de Peten Itza. Flores is a small island on the lake, connected to Santa Elena by one road. The airport is about the size of a barn. Well two, one for arrivals and one for departures. Had to walk along the runway again. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to find my shuttle to Tikal in the airport, but my hotel (Jungle Lodge) has a desk there and I found it straight away.
The drive to Tikal took about an hour, around the edge of the lake and then north into the jungle. You reach the main gate ages before the hotels and visitors centre. They have signs warning you of wildlife crossing the roads. A few with jaguars on, and a few with snakes on. Suddenly started to panic.
So we got to the hotel, checked into my plush cabin, and then a group of about 10 of us set off on our tour, with our guide Marco Antonio. We visited Temples 1, 2, 3, 4, 38, The Great Plaza, Central Acropolis, North Acropolis, The Lost World, and Complexes O, R and Q. I climbed up Temple 2 (the only one dedicated to a woman), The Great Pyramid of the Lost World (basically their astronomy tower), and Temple 4, the tallest construction there, and the one used as the Rebel Base in Star Wars: A New Hope. Yes, the best thing about Tikal had nothing to do with ancient Maya civilisation: for me, it was all about the best film in the world.
Anyways, we got back to the hotel by 1.30pm and I had lunch with some of the tour group. Then I went back to my cabin and decided to make a video of it. Then played it back to myself. Why didn’t anyone tell me I sounded so posh?! I couldn’t believe it was me talking! But quite a few people have commented on my “beautiful accent”, so maybe it’s not so bad.
After a much-needed shower I went back to the visitors centre for a look around, but it was all about to close. Sat by the hotel pool reading for a while. There were some monkeys playing in the trees just above me. Later went to the hotel restaurant for supper (which wasn’t included in the price), but I still got a 2-course dinner and two drinks for Q60 (less than 6 quid). It’s quite noisy in the jungle at night – lots of bugs and stuff.