Finding My Groove With the Travel Crew
Thinking back to all my travels and all the people I’ve met, I’d have to say that a large number of friendships were made on the bus. It makes sense if you think about it: when going to an unfamiliar place, often with no accommodation booked, it’s easy to tag along with someone you’ve just spent several hours chatting to.
Not surprisingly then, the first group of people I met on this trip happened to be on my Tikal tour. After dropping off my large backpack at Los Amigos, me and an Italian guy from the night bus went running around town looking for the 5am minibus leaving for Tikal.
As it turned out, Flores is a small town with only one bridge out. We hopped on as the bus was leaving and headed off in the early morning darkness.
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I later learned that the bus was supposed to be the sunrise tour. I can assure you that it was anything but. The closest thing we saw to a sunrise was the ever increasing glow outside the windows during the ~2 hour drive over. By the time we got to our first temple at Tikal, it was 8am and the sun was blazing overhead.
But there was a silver lining. What the tour lacked in sunrises, it more than made up for in characters. I ended up traveling or meeting up with people from this group for the majority of my trip:
- Emily, Jen and James – A trio of Americans in their late 20’s and early 30’s, our relationship started off on an rather unusual note. As the Italian dude and I walked on the bus, I heard a couple of chuckles. It wasn’t until later that I found out it was due to us bearing a striking resemblance to a gay couple they knew from back home. When they saw me alone on the tour, they asked where the other guy had gone. Me, realizing the hilarity of the situation responded, “We had a tiff.” And with that, for better or for worse, the groundwork for gay jokes was laid for the rest of the trip.
- Jon – A Londoner in his early 30’s, Jon’s first words to me were “150 quetzales” in a grumpy, half-asleep voice. However, he turned out to be a good ole’ chap and as we later learned, had attained minor celebrity status on Caye Caulker. James, him and I formed the “biblical three”, even if the things that came out of our mouths were anything but. In a pouring rainstorm, Jon also managed to find true southern comfort, and I’m not talking about whiskey.
- Lindsey – A smart girl with a good head on her shoulders, we all figured Lindsey to be in her mid-20s. As it turned out, she was the baby of the group having barely finished her teenage years. By the end, she was probably glad to leave us (or just me) given the amount of New Zealand sheep jokes we were making. But it was certainly a welcome surprise to run into her on Caye Caulker right before she left for Mexico.
- Lucile – Somewhat naive but considerably charming, Lucille was a French girl who had lived with a traditional Mexican family for several months. She had been doing some teaching up there and it seemed pretty hardcore, pretty impressive for a 20-21 year old. She was the only person I met on the trip who got mad; she thought her shoe that I had kicked into a lake had sank. Fair enough.
- Eoin and Caoimhe – An Irish couple traveling before moving to Australia, I met them at the very beginning of my trip and didn’t see them again until Antigua, near the end of my trip. “Owen” and “Queeva”, phonetically speaking, were a real “crack” as they liked to say. However, I didn’t rub off on Caoimhe too well initially due to my rather facetious comment of, “So are you planning on climbing any temples?” at Tikal.
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And so, by the random forces of the universe, we were all squished together on that same mini-bus barreling towards Tikal. Once there, we were led by our amusing, but occasionally clueless, tour guide Boris, and hiked the 40 or so minutes to get to the first temple.