We are always the last to leave the party, sometimes even tucking the hosts into bed before turning off the lights and locking the door behind us, and our planned four to five day stay in Flores, Guatemala, proved no different.  We stayed ten nights.

This is why it was hard to leave.

This is why it was hard to leave.

Technically, the ten nights we spent in Flores included a night in Tikal and four in Remate, but all these places are in the same few square kilometer area of the country so its semantics. Maybe it is more accurate to say we spent ten nights around Lago Peten Itza because Flores and Remate are on opposite sides of the lake, but however we frame it, they were happy days.

When planning our visit to this area of Guatemala I thought we could stay a week because there seemed to be enough fun things to do, I factor in days were we don’t do anything, and of course, anytime you stay someplace for a few days you learn about other things to do there, so if we actually wanted to do everything possible in the area, we should probably just move here.

The island of Flores as seen from a mirador in the jungle around the town of San Miguel. San Miguel is on a peninsula across the lake from Flores.

The island of Flores as seen from a mirador in the jungle around the town of San Miguel. San Miguel is on a peninsula across the lake from Flores.

R also studied Spanish in San Andres, which is a small village on another side of Lago Peten Itza, for three weeks back in the summer of ‘95, so we all wanted to go visit her old haunts – the one room shack were she slept and the one room school were she studied – which have been so impactful on her life, and thus, on ours.

In 1995, before the wheel was invented, lanchas (small motor boats) were the way to get from place to place on the lake. Nowadays you can drive to San Andres, but to make it feel like old times for R, we hired a boat to take us.

It was a bittersweet return; we learned the matriarch of R’s host family recently passed away, the language school burned down, and the pig she used as a landmark was made into carnitas. Talk about hitting the trifecta. R has written about our visit in a post entitled – “San Andres – 20 years later” – which will be posted shortly.

R standing in front of the house where she lived with the sister of the matriarch. The matriarch recently passed away.

R standing in front of the house where she lived with the sister of the matriarch. The matriarch recently passed away.

The streets were as steep and the temperatures as hot as R remembered, though, and since the kids weren’t going for swimming from the boat pier – there was a piece of a cow jawbone at waters edge – we had the lancha stop in the middle of the lake so we could splash and play around.

Coconut enjoying the lancha ride and swim in the lake. She may be smiling because she just pushed J off the boat and into the lake.

Coconut enjoying the lancha ride and swim in the lake. She may be smiling because she just pushed J off the boat and into the lake.

The island of Flores as we approached by boat on our return from San Andres.

The island of Flores as we approached by boat on our return from San Andres. You can see Wesley’s white top parked just a bit right of center.

Some of the houses along the more remote parts of the lake where dreamy. This one was built right on the water.

Some of the houses along the more remote parts of the lake where dreamy. This one was built right on the water.

That was the thing to do in Remate as well – it was the first time we ever rented paddleboards on Christmas day. We met a family from New Zealand in Remate and Coconut and J had fun swimming with Hugo and Tooey each afternoon from the dock in front of the hotel\restaurant Mon Ami. We camped in the parking lot of the restaurant one night for the cost of a meal. We also got to eat the food that came with the meal, so it was like camping for free.

J and I heading out for a late afternoon swim in Lago Peten Itza near our Remate camp.

J and I heading out for a late afternoon swim in Lago Peten Itza near our Remate camp.

The level of the lake has risen so that it has encroached on shelters built on the public beach.

The level of the lake has risen so that it has encroached on shelters built for picnickers on the public beach.

Wesley parked outside the Mon Ami while we play in the water

Wesley waiting patiently outside the Mon Ami while we play in the water.

The swimming area outside the Mon Ami in Remate. We spent most afternoons here playing off the dock and under the shelter built in the water.

The swimming area outside the Mon Ami in Remate. We spent most afternoons here playing off the dock and under the shelter built in the water.

There was less to do in Flores besides sweat, but it was our base for wifi, groceries, and to play the Guatemalan version of Monopoly at the Hospedaje Yaxha, where I also had a few beers with the guys that work there, Scott and Ben.

View of Wesley on the blistering streets of Flores from our hotel room. R slept in the van one night because our hotel room beds were small. Notice the inviting blue water of the lake?

View of Wesley on the blistering streets of Flores from our hotel room. R slept in the van one night because our hotel room beds were small. Notice the inviting blue water of the lake?

Enjoying the late afternoon shadows on the streets of Flores

Enjoying the late afternoon shadows on the streets of Flores

In between visits to Tikal and Remate we kept ending up in Flores. It’s a pretty town, on an island small enough to easily walk around, with plenty of restaurants, hostels, and street parking. There are also many young gringo travelers to make R and I nostalgic for the opportunities of youth. Not that we feel we squandered ours in any way – well, I do – but when all that youth is right there in your face you recognize that certain opportunities are now pipe dreams and that you have to take advantage of your middle aged chances. After all, we’re not dead yet.