Guatemala and Belize
by, 02-02-2008 at 10:58 AM (67611 Views)
We just returned from Guatemala and Belize. It was different than our normal "beach" vacations. It was fantastic.
We flew from the East Coast to Guatemala City where a driver took us to the colonial town of Antigua. What a beautiful spot. We stayed at the Casa Encantada; a small boutique property with about 15 rooms. To get to our room, we walked through a lily pond on HUGE stepping stones. In the evenings, candles lit the stepping stones so we could enter our room...how romantic!!! The property was a few blocks from the main square. Our first meal was Calle del La Fonda. This is the most "typical" Guatemalian restaurant in the area. We were able to meet the owner. She sat with us for about an hour telling us some wonderful things about the area. We did take a walking tour during our visit with Elizabeth Bell. Elizabeth is an American who has been living in Guatemala since the 60's (??). She is very involved in the community and for the improvement of the people. Her walking tour captures the history, churches, museums, and present day situation of the people. We hated for the tour to end.
Our flight from Guatemala City to Flores did not go as smoothly as we hoped. We checked in fine and headed for security. At this point, the gate clerk ran after us and said there was no room for us on the plane???????How could that be when we were the 1st to check in???? She offered us a hotel room for the day and we could fly in the evening to Flores. I was ANGRY. I didn't feel this was acceptable. She finally said we were overweight limit with all the other passengers and we could possibly fly but not our 3 suitcases. Yes, we were totally confused again........NO WAY we said. We negotiated that two suitcases would stay at the airport and one could come with us. The other two would come "later." I hesitantly agreed to us. When it was time to board, our suitcases were packed on so I was so happy. When we just were ready to board, they threw 2 of the suitcases on the tarmac....I just lost it......(OK, I AM A WIMP!). I cried. (Yes, it was my suitcase and the dirty clothes....my husband's stuff was flying with us!!) The pilots saw what was happening and decided it was time to go with all of our bags...I believe they were as annoyed with the ground crew as us. Well, so finally us and the bags were headed to Flores. A driver took us from the airport to La Lancha on Lake Peten. (property owned by Frances Ford Coppola.) The weather wasn't all that great. The property was lovely and quite luxurious rustic. We enjoyed reading by the lake and pool. The food was good at La Lancha. A hair pricy, but very good. Service was very good. The staff was attentive. The next day we had a private Mayan guide to take us to Tikal (with a driver.) WHAT AN AMAZING EXPERIENCE. Even though it was drizzling most of the day, the ruins were all inspiring. Our guide took us through the forests and explained the fauna and foliage to us. He also explained the Mayans mentality and inner workings. WOW....we were fortunate to have a guide as knowledgeable as Benedicto. Tikal is worth a visit to all.
We stayed at Ka'ana Boutique Resort in San Ignacio for 5 nights (Luxury Link Property.) THe property is less than a year old and located right off the main road. It is not a jungle lodge. It is more luxurious. I enjoyed the property however, I felt that their prices were extremely high for the location and services. Our dinners cost about $30 each foran entree plus 22% tax and service. (plus any addition you wanted to leave.) This isn't in line with the region. We did learn very quickly how to get around. Instead of taking a taxi or their transfers, we took the public bus right outside the property. It cost 1belize dollar each (50cents) vs. a $5.00 taxi or their $25.00 transfers!!! In town, we LOVED Hannas and Serendib. Hannas is authentic local cuisine. Our meal with about 4 beers was $23.00US!! Serendib is Sri Lankan. AMAZING...we enjoyed snapper cooked with Sri Lankin spices for about $25.00US for food and drinks.The owners son is the waiter and loves to offer suggestions for an authentic experience. What a deal and great food and portions! Other than eating, we visited the ruins in the area. The hotel and local companies were charging a lot to visit some of them. We navigated them ourselves by taking the public bus and walking. Saved a lot of money plus we enjoyed the countryside and some great exercise. We visited Xunatich and Cachel Patel (bad spellings!) on our own. I even enjoy had a little lunch on the steps of the ruins!
This is a long post and I didn't cover everything. It was just an overview of a region most folks don't get to on their typical vacation. (as the flight attendant asked on the flight down....are you missionaires???!!!!)
ENJOY!!!(Our room at Casa Encantada)
(Xunatich ruins, Belize)
(El Arco, Antigua Guatemala)