Sun 11th Feb
I set off at 6am for my first part of the journey heading to Guatemala.
A mixed group on the bus and none seem to be that chatty – maybe coz it’s early!
They make a stop as I thought for breakfast. As I’m on a transfer and not a tour, mine isn’t included. Not really wanting to eat a buffet breakfast and peed off at the guy trying to sell it talking to my chest rather than me I decline and take a seat in the neighbouring cafe instead where I get a proper cup of tea, 2l of water and a pastry for a fraction of the breakfast cost. This was made much more interesting by 3 policemen coming in for their breakfast and deciding to join me.
Back on the bus, it seems the driver has a fair mix of people and tours to drop people off for and just goes about his business without any explanation to a confused bus load of people!
As we enter Frontera Corozal I am told I have to pay 30 pesos to enter (no one else does)…! These little hidden extras are beginning to become the norm rather than a rarity – tours booked and paid for but don’t include entrance fee is another good example!
I pass through immigration Mexico side with no problem and glad I read to have proof of tourist tax that I paid as part of my flight. Rather than try and charge me for this, he did ask for my proof which I had.
It was then onto a boat to cross the river
and enter Guatemala on the other side – into Bethel
Wait 40 minutes for 2 more people to catch the shuttle, who don’t materialise do it’s just myself and an older Mexican couple that set off.
The road out of here is awful. The most bumpy pot-holed dirt track ever. I figure as we are leaving jungle territory, it’ll be over soon. Pull up at the Guatemalan immigration office and all goes ok. Pay 5$ and get my stamp….but no immigration card which I’m sure I had last time. Oh well – let’s see what problems I encounter when I go to leave!
Back in the bus and back on this horrible rickety old road. 2.5 hours later we finally hit some tarmac!
Another hour and a half on, we get to Santa Elena, about 10 mins from Flores.
This is where it gets odd and I should have been paying more attention….
We swap drivers….a new one taking over saying the other had done his hours and was tired. Seems a fair reason….
We then get dropped at a cash machine with the explanation that there is only one in Flores island, often doesn’t work and most places only accept cash. Alarms bells should have started ringing now but they didn’t.
We get into Flores and I am told we are at my place, follow the new driver only to be in a travel tour office. After chatting to me on the bus journey, he has cleverly sussed out my plans and future movements and makes a ‘good’ offer for the things I need. Something doesn’t sit right but hot, tired and ill, I agree and part with a large amount of cash!
I have my tickets, a contact number and leave with many a comment on how I shouldn’t talk about what I paid as I got given a special price having done the Palenque to Flores transfer with them. Oh the alarm bells should have gone off again but they didn’t! I’m then dropped off at my hostel.
Showered and changed I head out and pop into 2 tour offices I find – something wasn’t sitting right with me! Their prices appears I had been scammed! Being a Sunday I decide there’s nothing I can do yet and so find a great bar overlooking the lake. I take a photo and message José and Nancy who I am very much looking forward to seeing at the end of the month
Sun burning down (32 degrees) and 3 beers later, I decide I’d best get some food or it could be game over and I might not make tomorrow’s tour.
Beer is quite cheap here – ranging from £1 to £1.80 a bottle but food prices are quite expensive, especially compared to where I’ve just been in Mexico. A main can easily cost around £10. Not sure if this is where I am but don’t remember Guatemala being this dear last year….
Maybe I’m just more conscious after being scammed….oh well, was a nice dinner in a nice restaurant and Flores is a pretty cool place too