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From Diary 1 - and a loop through Belize, I now start in the north.
29/1 2020. I wake up in San Ignacio, and walk right to a shared taxi to the border. I'm the only one there, and 20 minutes after I left San Ignacio, I'm in Guatemala. I guy offers me a cummunity ride to Flores for 45 Quetzal, which seems fair for a 93 kilometres bus-ride. But we drive in a nice taxi, and I end up paying ten times as much (€55). I miss my own car! At least, the driver is an experience: He would fit in any cartoon as the funny guy. "Si Senor!!!" "Relaaaax!!!". It is a nice drive through the green mountains and fertile valleys. We even see a Central American Coral Snake; Micrurus nigrocinctus.

I find the nice hostel I stayed at last time in Flores, but they have no room. I find another one, and he even sell me a shuttle ticket to Rio Dolce in the morning. That was the task for the day, and now, I have nothing to do!

Well, look over the nice lake, find lunch, withdraw some more Quetzal, as they vanish fast, book a hotel in Rio Dulce, test hammocks in the gardens of cafés and look over the lake again. I even find a vegetarian restaurant! Although they have not really got it yet: It is not only just about not serving meat.

The Anolis are jumping around the plants, the starlings in the trees and the pigeons are gathering nesting material.  It is real nice during the days, but a bit chill in the early morning. At four, I get the cabin-fewer, but then I remember the huge covered market on the mainland.

 Along the bridge, I see some of the pond-turtles and a lot of fish. I stop for a huge slice of chocolate cake at the middle of the bridge, where some large buffets offers some real good looking food.

The market is pretty clean and well organised, but interesting anyway. Some of the vegetable shops have all their stock displayed on wooden boxes, which look great. I head back at dusk, enjoying the sunset over the bridge. I get three different crispy tacos and a huge burritos on the bridge, and head home to finish the work. I'm finish early, but then an interesting American turns up, and we have a long chat.
Northern Guatemala, Flores with market.

30. I'm up too early, but there are always work to be done. Half passed eight, the popular shuttlebus leaves for the 200 kilometre drive to Rio Dulce. My fellow travellers have huge luggage, even their hand luggage are larger than mine single bag. It is through the very green limestone hills, where the valleys have cattle and corn.

I try to make a few photos through the tinted windows - and fails. We reach the little but busy town of Rio Dulce at one, and I start with lunch. I get a plate with pasta salad, mixed salad, brown bean paste, sweet potatoes and some flat breads. It is a local place, and it cost the same as a tourist-tea.

On my map, my pre-booked hotel was out in the water - and it is! I sleep on the roof of a little restaurant, 25 metres out in the lake. I drop the bag, and do a loop in the town. It is a major road, and most trucks are transporting cattle. The shops are for the local farmers, and despite this is a famous tourist place, it fare from feel that way.

I figure how to do the river cruse one have to do, and buy a bus-ticket out of here, for the day after tomorrow. Then I get a haircut, and see the river, where the docks reach it. I also have to see the view from the huge bridge, spanning the river. It seems like the river is an important transport route to the inland. Bricks for houses are going out, while crops are coming in. 

I make another loop in the afternoon, ending at a large restaurant, serving dinner for the truck drivers. I get a massive burritos with all kind of stuffing, but meat. Then I head home to my cosy balcony, facing the river. Here are no actually sunset, the sun just fades away. Northern limestone hills and Rio Dulce.

31. I work at the office until it is time to head down the docks, and board a river cruse. I join up with two great British bikers, my age; Brian and Mark. It is a 16 person, overpowered boat, neat for the job. At first, we head a bit inland to see the well restored Castillo de San Felipe; an old Spanish fortress. Then we sail under the huge bridge and down the large Lago de Izabal, which is a widening on Rio Dulce.

Here are a lot of fishing birds - and humans for that matter. Brown Pelicans, cormorants, snake necks, terns, seagulls, herons, egrets, and somehow, the vultures sit in the trees along them. The first part is a bit dull on the almost mirror-like lake. Then we reach the canyon, and the rainforest get real close.

We stop at one of the many small restaurants along the brinks, and this one have some hot springs. I just get a mug of coffee, and head a bit inland on a forbidden trail. Here are a lot of nice plants, and I see a Helmet Calotes, a Green Iguana and a huge Golden Orb Spider.

We turn into a lagoon, side river, body of water, lake or whatever, and it is covered in water lilies. Some local women meet us in small canoes, selling souvenirs - but not to us. Another time, we get close to an island with numerous cormorants and Silk Egrets. Other islands and sides of the river is home to fishermen and their families.

After 35 kilometres, we reach the coastal town of Livingston. It sure get it share of tourists, to judge from the souvenir stands. From 1600 and forward, it was actually a Garifuna people society - kind of Rasta. We meet Phillip, a Garifuna elder, who will show us their little humble part of town.

It turns out the Mayan people moved in in 1980, and they now sit on everything. The hurricane Rita destroyed most of the Garifuna part of town, but some nice Danes have helped them building some ugly but efficient homes. They are, however, not aloud to make a school. We learn a few things about them, see their flag and so on, and Phillip sure know his story.

We support Phillip to feed the local children, and he show us a native restaurant, where we get their speciality: Tapado. Brian and I get the vegetarian, while Mark go for the luxury Red Snapper, crab and shrimp version. While we eat, some cats and tiny puppies along with a pig check for leftovers. Well, we now have had the "national" dish.

We make it back through town, and get the boat back to Rio Dulce town. I have a lot of photos of the awesome looking rainforest covered limestone wall - all looking the same. I do a loop through Rio Dulce town, and find supper on the way back: A great tasting Torta. Kind of a thick burritos pancake, folder over the same fillings.

Boat-trip to Livingston on Lago de Izabal.

1/2. I have a bus at 9;30, and little to do until that. I continue making corrections to my former diaries, while I watch the locals sailing bye in their boats. And I try to come up with a land-vehicle as simple as a boat with an engine in the back. Quite easy - if you are willing to ignore efficient breaks.

There is close to 300 kilometres to Guatemala City, and I hope to reach it before dark. I have made a hotel reservation close to the terminal - I hope. It is a real nice bus, and with my jacket, it is not too cold. It feels like we do 30 although we actually do 70 km/t. I get to see the first three First Blood movies; a first for me. It is with Spanish talk and text, but I get everything.

The first part is through real green low hills, but the sun does not play along. Here are quite some gumtree-plantations, which are dormant now. Then we reach a significantly dryer area, from 200 to 600 metres height. Here start to be small cacti, then huge ones. I try desperately to capture the semi-desert landscape and the cacti, but it is not easy from a bus.

Here are mainly cattle, but also some beans and corn. It is watered artificially, as the area is real dry. We stop for lunch at a huge restaurant, just long enough for me to eat some steamed vegetables and rice along, and bring a really good cafe latte.

Just before Guatemala City, the landscape raises up to 1500 metres, but remains almost as dry. Within the town, we change into a smaller bus, but head right to the terminal I hoped for. I find my booked hotel 250 metres down the road, and it is apparently bar-street - especially this Saturday the 31.

The hotel is real cosy, and despite it is in the centre of this huge town - and fairly cheap, it have a huge courtyard, filled with different plants. The owners passion, it turns out. I get a room in the back, and head out in the town a bit passed five.

I find some local dinner and a bag of breakfast for the next days. Then I make a huge loop through the small stalls, aliening the central roads. It seems like a lot of the farmers are dressed up and gone into town this evening. The women have colourful dresses on, the men cowboy hats and shiny cowboy boots.
Bus through the eastern part.

2. Despite this is in the centre of the huge city, it is among the most quiet hotels I had stayed in, and I book another night, as I still don't have a car today. Then I find socks and shoes, and head into the city. Here are a lot of rather impressive buildings, and some falling apart.

As it is Sunday, here are almost dead. I find the Mercado Central, under a huge square. It is 40% open, and I start with a cup of coffee, chatting with two police officers. Then I see the fresh fruits, dead animals chopped up, wedding decorations, pottery, spices, fresh fish and a lot else. It seems like most is en-gross.

Then I find Plaza Central with its impressive buildings. The square have some stands with real colourful cloths, other with local dishes. It seems like they are prepared for the farmers to come to town.
I follow the pedestrian street from one end to the other. It is one of the cleanest I have seen. Here are actually crews washing the sidewalks with soap water.

Along it are some other impressive buildings. One look like a fortress, other just "rich". I head a but further out, and here I find the partly closed Southern Market. Here are pretty much the same things, and additional a lot of perfumed candles and fresh herbs. Further out the road, I find the governmental part of town. Some modern buildings with art on the front, some art in the streets and real empty. Around the corner, ancient and modern are mixed in a rather un-charming way.

I would love to find the market I saw the first time I was here, with goats and farm products. But I have no recollection on where it was, as I drown here by taxi to a terminal he knew. I head home and find a picture of "the Eiffel tower": Torre del Reformador. That I can find - close to where I just was! But I fail to find the market. Close by is Guatemala Botanical Garden - and of cause, it is closed. It look quite overgrown anyway.

I head back home, and figure where the market might be: Close to, where I just been twice, and I will pass in the morning, on my way to the car. I do another loop around the central part of town, but this time by the back-alleys. I find a huge tortilla on the way home, and call it a day at six. Guatemala City.  
 It is time for Diary 3 and a tour around southern Guatemala.        

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