Day 1: From Belize City to Flores, Guatemala

In Belize, Central America, Guatemala, Travel by Katelyn12 Comments

Why is it that travel days always seem to last the longest? Day 1 of the trip began before the sun even woke up – 3:00am. My flight left Boston-Logan Airport (BOS) at 6am. Luckily I had a very generous college friend who hosted me the night before and drove me to the airport for 4am. Thanks Greg! It saved me close to $300 for an airport hotel or spending the night in the airport (which I have done before and it’s not fun!).

Getting ready for take-off

Getting ready for take-off

I made it without much wait time through security sans any snafus. I was a bit worried that someone might yell at me about my backpack size, but rest-assured it easily fit in the carry-on luggage test device (ok, perhaps with a little manipulation). The only place in the airport opened at 4:30am was Dunkin Donuts, so I waited until Starbucks opened at 5am. Sorry America, America doesn’t run on Dunkin! 

The first leg of my flight was from BOS to Atlanta (ATL). The flight was uneventful. We hit a few rough patches of air, which caused a little bit of anxiety. The older I get the more nervous of a flyer I become. I used to love flying, but now every little bump in air causes my heart to jump and instant thoughts of we’re going to die. I seriously think I need some medication. It’s actually rather pathetic.

My layover in ATL was less than an hour and thus it was a run to the next gate. Thankfully the gate was nearby and I just went plane to plane. The downfall was not being able to grab a snack in the airport. We soon left ATL for Belize City. The flight was a little less than 3 hours long, meaning no lunch was going to be served. Originally my plane ticket said lunch, but it magically disappeared when I checked it. Well played Delta, well-played. I ended up shelling out $9 for a Delta snack. It was good, but obviously not worth $9. The leg from ATL to Belize was rough. At this point I relaxed a bit and was able to read a good portion of my book.

We arrived in Belize a little early. My friend landed shortly before us. Well, actually three planes landed within minutes of each other creating a bit of a long wait to get through immigration and customs (especially when you really had to pee!). I got stamped and met Lindsay on the other side. We grabbed a taxi to the bus/water taxi station to take the express bus from Belize City to Flores, Guatemala.

We ended waiting about an hour or so until the bus showed up. The express bus left around 1:30pm and we got to the station way before either of us had originally thought. We chatted with a Belizean local from the Southern part of the country about Southern Belize and the Belizean culture. Finally the bus arrived.

Now, based on the pictures on the sign and what the ticket agent told us, we thought the bus was going to be an air-conditioned custom coach bus with a bathroom. Nope, it was an old mini-bus from the 90s. No A/C. No bathroom. At least it wasn’t crowded and the windows opened. It wasn’t bad, but I expected something more. The bus ride took us from Belize City over the Western Highway to the border of Belize/Guatemala. The ride was uneventful for a “normal” Central American bus/taxi/car ride. If you’ve never taken road transportation in Central America than you’re certainly in for a surprise. There is a lot of honking and passing (sometimes with oncoming traffic, blindly, and on sharp turns and hills). Generally it’s just best to close your eyes and hope for the best.

A collection of photos taken from the bus ride to Guatemala

A collection of photos taken from the bus ride to Guatemala

The border crossing was rather simple once we figured what our Spanish-speaking driver told us to do. Get off. Walk through Belize Immigration. Pay $15 USD exit tax (we paid slightly less because we just arrived in Belize that day). Walk to customs and get passport stamp. Walk across river-bridge to Guatemala. Walk up to Guatemala immigrations and customs to pay the $3 entrance fee and get passport stamped. Find bus driver and bus.

We found our bus and driver plus 2 new additional passengers. One was a really nice Guatemalan woman who spoke English. The second was a really stinky shirtless man who was going all the way to Guatemala City. Lindsay and I both checked our packs in the back of the bus because our lovely bus driver walked away from the bus and left our stuff unattended. Everything was just dandy though.

After all the passengers returned to the bus, we were on our way again. The highway in Guatemala from the border to Flores was paved in the recent years making the ride smooth and fast. The landscape was beginning to turn into more farmlands and jungles. Surprisingly, the ride was quite hilly. There was one big hill that I thought we were all going to have to push the bus up because it was so steep.

Bienvenidos!

Bienvenidos!

The bus ride from Belize City to Flores took about 5 hours. One-way tickets cost about $25 USD. We could have taken the normal buses from Belize City to Benque Viejo del Carmen (the last town in Belize) for about $5 USD, a $5 USD taxi from Benque to the border, and then take another bus from Melchor de Mencos (Guatemalan border town) to Flores for a few US dollars as well. However, we were looking at about 7-8 hours travel time. The $25 for the express bus was worth it in my opinion.

The bus driver dropped us off at our destination of Flores, Guatemala. Lindsay and I pre-booked our beds at Los Amigos Hostel prior to leaving the US. On the short walk to the hostel we picked up a fellow bus passenger from England after he asked us where we were staying. Turns out he had spent the month of March in Hollis, Maine! That’s about 2 towns over from where I live and I regularly ride my bike through the town. This was the first incidence of a small world.

The entrance to Los Amigos Hostel in Flores, Guatemala

The entrance to Los Amigos Hostel in Flores, Guatemala

Los Amigos is by far the best hostel I’ve stayed in during this trip and all the others I have stayed in on previous trips. I plan on doing a separate post about the hostel, but in a nutshell, if you’re going to Flores then you must stay here. It’s about $9 a night for a bed and the atmosphere is very friendly and fun. Lindsay and I had dinner with our new friend Ben (English-boy) and talked Maine and travel. We ordered dinner and drinks from the restaurant. The bartender/waitress did not like me for some reason and I got yelled at and I had to ask twice for my drink order. One of the reasons I need to learn Spanish. Good thing I’m signed up for Spanish lessons at The Language Exchange in Portland starting in July!

The Guatemala national beer... Gallo

The Guatemala national beer… Gallo

I tried the local brew, Gallo Cerveza, and it was quite good. I thought it was similar to a Newcastle in taste. For dinner I had the fish, which was excellent. If it was socially acceptable I probably would have licked my plate. After a very long day of travel and a 2 hour time change for me, we called it a night and hit our bunk beds.

 

Comments

  1. Pingback: Day 1: From Belize City to Flores, Guatemala

  2. Pingback: Day 3: Tikal, Guatemala to Belize City | Diaries of a Wandering Lobster

  3. Pingback: Day 4: Welcome to San Pedro, Belize | Diaries of a Wandering Lobster

  4. Pingback: Day 5: Discovering the Beauty of San Pedro, Belize | Diaries of a Wandering Lobster

  5. Pingback: Day 6: Island Hopping from San Pedro to Caye Caulker, Belize | Diaries of a Wandering Lobster

  6. Pingback: Day 7: Exploring the Laid-Back Island of Caye Caulker | Diaries of a Wandering Lobster

  7. I’ve been stalking all your Belize and Guatemala posts, I am heading down there in a few weeks and I cannot WAIT to explore! Thanks for all the helpful info! (My plan is Caye Caulker and then Flores/Tikal. Eeep!)

    xox

  8. Hey do you know the company you booked your express bus with? I have been looking and it is very difficult to find stuff online! Thanks!!

  9. @Nicole Not sure if you’ve departed yet. But, I’ll be arriving in BZE in about 19 days. I’m a researcher by hobby and I strongly agree info to Tikal has been difficult 2 find. When u land get in a taxi fr BZE Airport. Taxi’s have a green license plate, letter D in white, followed by 4 digits. Take this taxi to the Water Taxi Terminal. That taxi cost is $25 USD. San Juan Express, Fuente Del Norte, and Linea Dorada bus all go to Flores, Guatemala. You should pay NO MORE than $25 one-way to Flores, Guatemala. Bus price and departure times are different for each bus. Keep in mind that you may be sold a bus ticket for “air conditioned bus w/ bathroom”…also known as a first class bus. Just hope for the best. Meaning be prepared to not have one w/ A/C or bathroom on it lol. You may get lucky. Also, of EXTREME IMPORTANCE. If you haven’t prebooked your hotel in advance, KNOW the name of one in your mind that is in Flores. Reason being, before your bus reaches its final destination in Flores, some guys MAY get on the bus offering “a free shuttle.” They present themselves as a”travel agency.” It is a fake travel agency. You will even see some backpackers signing up with them and paying these guys. Their TRUE intention is to sell you way overpriced tickets to Tikal AND drive you to a hotel or hostel that they get a cut from. They will even tell you they will get you a good price for the hotel. And tell you if you dont like the hotel they will bring you back. They will tell you hotel is only 20 mins away. Really it’s about 45 mins from Flores. When you arrive at the hotel in El Remate? hotel wont let you stay for price that guy told you. Then if you dont want to stay, the guy tells you “I’m not going back to Flores.” Even tho he said he would originally. This happened to two women. Anger and a fight ensued. One of the women took his picture to put it online and warn the world. He even snatched her phone and threw it to the a guy working in the hotel telling him to delete it. He was successful, but it was still in her deleted files lol. The women wrestled w/ him to get her phone back. So…stay in Flores or at Tikal. I’m a solo traveler and of all the countries I’ve been to, this was good for me to know. Dont worry…just be aware, that’s all. Glad I do VERY EXTENSIVE research before I go. Happy Travels!!!

  10. Great post! I am heading to Belize and Guatemala in a few months and found this very helpful. I cannot get to your other posts for Belize. Do you know if these are still available?

Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge