Tikal was an adventure that I was really looking forward to especially after trekking around San Ignacio. Unfortunately, although I trekked maybe 6-7km in a delirious state (which I do not recommend!), I have little to show for it.
Rewind. Back in the afternoon the day prior, Russ and I had a 1.5 litre water bottle we had refilled from our lodge’s purified water system. We have been using refill services since Mexico and found it to be cheaper and the same as buying sealed bottle after sealed bottle. It was a an extremely hot day so we had began to drink the water. At first I spit mine out in disgust and asked Russ, “Does this taste right to you?!” He shrugged and kept drinking – our friend Kate agreed that it tasted weird but it was all the water we had for the trek so we put up with the taste.
Back to Tikal. We had just boarded the bus at 6am to cross the border into Guatemala and my stomach did a flip flop. Russ had began to complain that he wasn’t feeling well also as we stamped our passports he begged immigration to let him use their facilities and they eventually agreed (for $1!). Back on the bus I felt worse and worse and when we began hiking through the jungle it multiplied. I could feel I had a fever and my stomach had bloated at least 2x it’s normal size and I had extreme nausea – at a rest area and I laid on a dirty bench while the others climbed a temple used in Star Wars, and the local guide picked some peppermint leaves for me to chew on to try and calm the nausea. Sweating through the humid jungle, I made it to the last area where we had free time to walk around and explore. I collapsed in the sun and a park ranger picked me up on a scooter where we briefly conversed in Spanish and he kindly took me back to our bus. I laid across to seats in agony for the next 3-4 hours while the group Trekker back and had lunch. Finally when we arrived in Flores I laid face down in my hotel bed in absolute agony.
After a torturous night and morning, I felt well enough to get up but still couldn’t eat but I could drink sips of water, which was positive considering we had another 4 hour drive to Rio Dulce at midday. A few of the others had fallen ill as well later the night before and in the morning, so some rested and the rest of us that were up to it took a stroll around the gorgeous colourful cobblestone streets of Flores and a boat ride around the island with our tour guide – I’m thankful I was well enough to at least see a little bit of the island, though I can’t say I was feeling incredible after a bumpy boat ride. After returning and reconnecting with the group at the hotel we boarded the bus, half sick and exhausted, to another eco-lodge in Rio Dulce, about 3-4 hours away.
- As I said in my last post – buy sealed bottled water, don’t use their refills! It’s not worth it to go through being so sick.
- Stock up on meds in the beginning of your trip. I was definitely ignorant in thinking “nah I’ll be right” (Aussie mentality!). Imodium, Gaviscon, anti-nausea pills, pain killers, antihistamines, Hydralyte – things like that, I would recommend bringing with you.
- By this point, if you haven’t brought overseas mosquito repellent with .5% deet, you should invest in the highest allowed to be sold in Central (.25%). I recommend OFF Deep Jungle as it has worked the best for the majority of our group. Avoid using perfumes, lotions, scented sunscreens – especially if you are prone to attracting mosquitos (like myself)!
- Take a boat ride around Flores – ask them to take you to the lookout, the horse statue and the island where the giant organs iguanas are! If you can have a guide that knows history and some interesting stories (like the myth of the statue) it will be an awesome hour and a half for you.
- Flores is super small and only takes about a half an hour to walk around the entire island – explore the colourful streets on foot