We boarded the thatch-roofed long boats at Yaxchilan, Mexico, and traveled back up the Usumacinta River, which marks the border with Mexico. On this return trip we landed on the opposite shore, entering Guatemala at a village called Bethel, where we cleared customs. And so, our archeological tour of Mesoamerica continued.
The road trip from hell
The Guatemalan government has many demands for its resources, I’m sure, but for four hours of my life I wished fervently they had allocated a little more money to road maintenance. The potholes were so deep the driver had to slow nearly to a stop in order to ease the vehicle down into the hole. Then he’d gun the motor to get the wheels up and over the other side.
We knew in advance that by taking both the route on the river and this dirt road it would save two days of hard driving around the Usumacinta River to get to Flores City. But we underestimated the ordeal! Not only were we jolted and jarred, but the only available restroom at that time of night was in back of a private home where we handed the owner a quetzal or two in payment as we slowly marched forward.
Bliss at the Camino Real Tikal
After the hard drive along the potholed road, a night at the Camino Real Tikal hotel with its lovely swimming pool, topical gardens, and excellent cuisine smoothed over the rough edges of our jostled bodies. Happily there were no pickles in the tour group and eventually everyone could chuckle about the road trip ordeal. Nothing like hindsight to soften the lens of reality.
Sunset over the Gardens
Sunset over the gardens of the Camino Real Hotel was magnificent. Tired as we were from the humidity and physical exertion of another day viewing outdoor artifacts, the gorgeous hues of the setting sun drew us toward the shoreline. We strolled past the aqua pool, down the staircase, across the lawn, closer and closer to the brilliant colors in the western sky. Just as we came to the water we discovered this shrub with amazing orange flowers, so intense in color and of an unusual shape!