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What we experienced while being driven by bus to Guatemala can hardly be referred to as "passenger transport". I thought that we would never again see our bicycles that were mounted on the roof. The route was in fact a dirt road, full of asphalt patches. Our driver did his best to follow the patches, irrespective of whether they were on the right or left lane. From Santa Elena we moved on to Flores to find overnight accommodation. As always – no problem with that. Flores is a beautiful town situated on a tiny island in lake Lago de Peten Itza. The island is connected with the mainland by a splendid bridge. In the afternoon we investigated possibilities of taking a trip to Tikalu (we bought tickets and asked a driver to pick us up from the hotel on the following morning). Flores enchanted us with its cosy atmosphere – narrow streets, with rows of colourful (mostly red) town houses on both sides, numerous shops, stalls and the warmth of café and restaurant interiors. In the main square there was a church (at that time John Paul II was mourned). The square was swarming with life until late night hours: stalls with souvenirs and tortillas were open, boys were playing football. That place is also connected with unforgettable culinary experience – pineapple shake with milk – having tried it, I never wanted anything else with my meals!

At 6 am we got on the bus that was picking up participants of the trip to Tikal. We reached the place early in the morning, which was perfect, because while walking along a path in the midst of tropical jungle, we came across various animals – not yet frightened by crowds of tourists or by the scorching heat. Finally we saw the biggest Mayan complex we had ever visited, located in dense jungle, among tall trees, and spreading across a vast area. Numerous alleys cutting through the thickets make the place both calm and wild. Screaming monkeys, toucans, giant ants carrying pieces of leaves – we even saw an armadillo!

Tikal comprises unique pyramids with comb-like structures on their tops. We would need a whole day to fully appreciate that place. The peak of Tikal's development was the period between 600 and 900 AD. Similarly to other Mayan cities, the place was abandoned at the turn of the 9th century, and the magnificent buildings were devoured by the jungle. Once that area of ca. 20 sq km was covered by 3000 buildings – from straw-roofed huts to a 70 m tall pyramid temple. What made the greatest impression on us were the pyramids located near the main square – Gran Plaza: Tempo I (Temple of the Great Jaguar, adorned by a relief depicting a man dressed in the beast's skin, carrying attributes of priestly power), Tempo II and Acropolis Central. There were characteristic stone slabs – stelae – by each building, covered with inscriptions and reliefs commemorating important events and eminent characters. Unfortunately, many of those inscriptions have still not been deciphered.

A few years back I had seen the place on TV. Now I could not just watch it, but also climb the steep stairs, admire the view from the pyramid top – all that with my beloved husband at my side.

Next morning we left Flores. While cycling along a dirt road we realised that it was different from Mexico – food was no longer to be bought every few meters. Our strength slowly drained away due to the increasing heat. Moreover, we set off before eating breakfast. In a town called Bellen we saw a roadside shop – literally constructed of a few boards. Shampoo, washing powder, Coca Cola, sugar, sweets, etc. A lady inside did not speak English of course, so Igor used sign language to ask for something to eat. She asked: "What do you want"? How could we answer: "Anything"? A few movements of hands, a Spanish word for "chicken", and we started waiting. A few minutes later, on a table in front of the shop we saw tortillas, rice with chicken, coleslaw, tomatoes and cola. So much food, so fresh and so cheap. Several locals came up to look at us and smile at us. On the same day we reached Sayaxche, where we stayed overnight. We intended to go to Mexico (Benemerito) by boat. We hardly managed to reach an ATM to get some money for the cruise. ATMs are often operating only during bank opening hours. The town itself was not particularly impressive. It had plenty of new houses, but many of them unfinished. Reinforced concrete bars could be seen everywhere, which – as I see it – was a conscious strategy: unfinished buildings are exempt from taxation. We used the bars to fasten strings where our washing dried. We hoped that in the morning we would get on a boat, for which we had already paid half the ticket price in advance.

And there it was, waiting for us in the morning. Ufff…so far so good. Two hours' cruise to the accompaniment of an unbelievably noisy engine was a terrible experience.