|Travelling 200 km north by bus towards El Remate, we enjoyed a marvelous view as we climbed up and down and wound through the mountainous countryside, passing pastureland, jungle and small towns. At St. Helena we transferred to a smaller bus, taking us into the town of Flores where we caught a 3rd bus or tourismo that finally took us the last 37 km to El Remate, situated on the eastern shore of Lago Peten Itza in the state of Peten.
El Remate was barely on the map until 1951 when the Guatemalan government built an airstrip allowing archeologists and tourists accessibility to Tikal for the first time. The increase of tourism to the area has brought a smooth, modern road and the most modern electrical wiring that we have seen since we left the U.S.
The peaceful little town was our choice of a place to stay from which to explore Tikal. There are hotels right at the site but they are more expensive and there are places to stay in Flores but it is further away.
The object when visiting Tikal is to arrive as early as possible in the morning to beat the heat, the crowds and enjoy the early morning sounds of the jungle. Our tourismo picked us up and 5:30 a.m. and we headed off with the boxed lunch included in the tour cost. Had we decided to stay in Flores we would have been picked up at 4 a.m., which was a tad early for even us boaters.
It was a nice change to be away from the boat and sleep in a spacious bed in a spacious room with a little porch outside. The change of scenery was stimulating and we loved the little lakeside town of El Remate. We wandered along the streets and along the lakefront, both of which were shared equally by people and livestock. Horses, pigs and goats grazed freely everywhere, along the roadsides, on front lawns, in soccer fields and basketball courts. People and livestock shared the lake as well, wading in to wash laundry and drink the water (the livestock that is). A few horses were tethered but most wandered freely and traffic simply went around them if they got on the road, which they didn't very often.