Sunday, March 30, 2008

El Remate


After a night of fitful sleeping in an ice cold overnight trip from Guatemala City to Flores, stepping down off the bus into the warm humid air of the Peten was a relief for all of us. We had been warned that the advertised air-conditioning on the bus was more of an annoyance than a benefit, but this had been torture.

Quickly surrounded by the usual mob of taxi and shuttle drivers we were able to negotiate a cheap price by shuttle to get to El Remate, a small town halfway between Flores, the capital of Peten, and the ruins of Tikal, where we would be staying for the next two days. Laura, who had been up the week before with her father who was visiting from the states, assured us this was a better deal than staying at the park, because it was less expensive and there was a beautiful lake.

Beautiful does not begin to describe it. Pure turquoise and surrounded by tall green grass, the lake is calm and tranquil. Small rickety wooden docks extend out into the water. The area of El Remate has yet to be developed; there are no motor boats to disrupt the serenity of the area, and it is easy to see how one could loose track of time in this lazy little lakeside town.

Exhausted from our trip and lack of sleep, Marissa, Laura and I headed down to one of the docks. With the warm rays of the sun beating down upon us, the lullaby of the water lapping against the dock soon had us all fast asleep on the wooden boards.

As good as this sounds, it only got better. For lunch we stumbled upon a small Italian restaurant off the side of the lake. International cuisine is not Guatemala’s strong point, so we were shocked to find the place churning out homemade pasta made by an adorable old little Italian man. Food was clearly his passion as he shouted out specific details on exactly how the food should be prepared and cooked to the woman he had helping him. An hour later stuffed on tomato and (get this) REAL mozzarella, fresh bread, homemade pizza complete with fresh tomato, mushrooms, onions and NON-CANNED black olives and limonada, we could not believe our luck.

Lunch, of course, was followed by more lounging on the dock and swimming in the clear lake water before we headed back to the hostel to get an early night sleep. We needed our rest for our early morning rise at 3 am the next day to catch the sunrise tour of the Tikal ruins. The trip could not have begun in a better manner.

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