Flores to Tintal, El Mirador Basin

Sun rays flooded through towering Cohune palms and bathed Lake Peten Itza in a muted apricot glow. Three hours and 62 rutted and muddy km later, Antonio and I arrived at Carmelita, his home village inhabited by 400 or so Itza Maya. Eladio, the muleteer, packed supplies, backpacks and duffels onto the four mules. We enjoyed a late breakfast at the local comedor before today’s 20km trek.

Unlike other treks, these mules don’t amble nearby. They leave later and pass on the trail, meeting for lunch and at camp. On past hikes, I’ve had the luxury of carrying only my camera, a light snack, and water. For this hike in high-humidity and mosquito-and-snake infested jungle, I carried 1L water, 1L Powerade [never liked it before this trek], 2 pieces fruit, a Builders’ Bar, and my Canon with two lenses. Good workout.

PS – I’m sort of kidding about the mosquitoes and snakes. Guidebooks emphasize the conditions and the creatures however, I saw two tiny [1/2″ diameter/12″ long] snakes.

I never used my DEET though I did offer to a fellow traveler whose exposed arms and legs resembled a hairy caterpillar with smallpox. Jungle guidebooks also recommend beige pants, long-sleeved beige shirts, and hiking boots not BITE ME clothing: red shirt, green shorts, and sandals.