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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Four days in Flores

We are now on our third day at the Hotel Santa Barbara in Flores. It hardly merits the word hotel, and that’s just fine. It’s on a tiny island a five minute boat ride from the town of Flores. Our host and boat man wil take us over and pick us up whenever we want. His wife is the cook, and makes us breakfast every day, and supper when we request it.

They, and we, are the only inhabitants of the island. We met little Anderson, who must be about three, when we first arrived, but haven’t seen him since. Though there are three cabins, we are the only visitors. It’s tiny, you can walk from one side to the other in less than five minutes.

There is a one room museum between the cabins and the patio where we eat. We could see the Museo sign from across in Flores when we first arrived.  It is mentioned in the guidebook, but we hadn’t seen any visitors until today.

This morning, a boat pulled up at the dock directly in front  of our porch, with a noisy group of about twenty tourists. It was rather jarring, because we hadn’t seen any other people on the island during the two days we’ve been here.  As they exited the boat, stepping on what was a slippery bit of mud, one woman slipped and almost fell. A few minutes later, their guide slipped and fell dramatically on his butt. I don’t think he was hurt, but I’m sure he must have been embarrassed. The boat driver fetched a towel, and one of the tourists  rubbed the guy’s butt to get off the mud, prompting someone to comment something like, it’s extra for the sex.

They trotted up to the museum, and we didn’t hear them until their return a bit later. The boat driver had turned the boat sideways so people stepped right in from the dock, which she probably should have done in the first place. So no mishaps this time.
There was a second boat a bit later, with just two visitors, who also trooped  up to the museo for a while.

With all of this action, we decided it was time for us to visit the museum too. There were actually a couple of people there with a guide. They must have arrived at the other dock by the patio just around the corner. So it’s possible there have been other visitors too, that we just haven’t seen.

Yesterday we took a two hour ride around the lake, and quite possibly there were other visitors then too. But, from our perspective, it’s been quite quiet aside from today. Maybe it’s Museum Day.

There have been several boats who have just pulled up close to the island, with guides pointing and saying “iguana." We had heard that there were iguanas on the island, but hadn’t seen them. So yesterday we walked down the path, and just a few steps from our cabin, spotted a large iguana lounging on a tree branch. Then we spotted another, and another, and then a few more in a nearby tree. They had no doubt been there all along, we just hadn’t noticed them.

Among animal life here there are lots of birds, none of which I can identify, not being a bird person, aside from the ducks and the white egrets .There are two cats and a white rabbit, which Loring is guessing will soon be a meal. And a lot of chickens, which we assume are providing the eggs that we have for breakfast. The rest of breakfast, in addiiton to the eggs scrambled with ham, are fried plantains, refried black beans, sausage, toast, orange juice, and coffee.

Perhaps most interesting of all in terms of the wildlife are the bats. When we went to dinner our first night, there was a very loud sound of something pinging against the tin roof over the patio. It took us a little while to realize that they were bats, tons of them, eating the fruit in the tree and dropping the hulls on the roof.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen bats in that quantity except, many years ago, the nightly exit of them from Carlsbad Cavern at dusk. This was as impressive, if not more so, since it wasn’t just a one minute event, but continuous, and even though they were right over and at the edge of the patio, they didn’t fly near us. Definitely neater than having one in our living room a few years ago and trying to shoo it out!

We’ll eat in town tonight, as we did last night, so don’t know if we’ll hear/see the bats again. But certainly tomorrow, our last night here.

Loring is out swimming now, and I will at least  venture into one of the shallow spots just to get wet and cool off. It’s pretty hot. But I am not complaining, considering what it must be at home. And we even have ac in our cabin, an unexpected luxury.

The little museum here is just one room, but these out of the way little places are sometimes the most interesting. In the room are various cases with pottery, tools, engraved tablets, etc. Mostly they are in locked cases, but some are not. And virtually nothing is labelled, so we couldn’t tell what was from Tikal, what from other places including right here locally, etc. And besides the Mayan artifacts are a number of other items, very incongruously placed, at least in our minds. A gramaphone, a red perhaps 1960’s telephone, and most incongruous and amusing of all, a little assemblage  of a statue of Jesus, a photo of Marilyn Monroe, a photo  Tikal, another older telephone... Perhaps a modern  Maya shrine?!

In the guest book were names of people from many places, lots of Guatemalans,  but people from many places  in  Latin America, Europe, Canada. Australia, etc. Some people from the US, but not too many.

There’s also some old radio equipment, because the island once housed a radio station, I expect in the  same space that houses the museum.

Yesterday afternoon, after lounging by the cabin after our morning boat excursion, we took the boat over to Flores. There are a large number of hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops in the town, but nearly no people were there. We assumed it was because most everyone goes for a long day at Tikal. But we also assumed that it would become lively at night. Yet it didn’t, although there were certainly more tourists than during the day, it still wasn’t that busy. There were a few people floating around off the dock, at least as many locals as tourists, and some people at the bar/restaurants. But not nearly enough to warrant the number of establishments. Maybe we were just too early?  We finished dinner and headed back to our little retreat by about 830.

Our dinner was good, shrimp ceviche followed by fish with a citrus sauce. The ceviche, which we shared, was huge, and probably would have been enough. The fish was also delicious, but I could barely eat all of it, and did leave behind  some of the sweetened plantains that covered it. The ceviche was different from any we’ve ever had before, in a tomato based sauce with Worcestershire sauce, along with the lime we are used to.

Loring is back fron his swim. He went all around the island, about a half  kilometer. I guess its time for me to at least dip my toes.

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