A small church in Santa Elena

A street in Flores

We stopped off in this city after visiting Tikal in 1993 on the way back to the airport. It was a nice quiet place, though it was a bit of a culture shock to see bank guards in military uniforms and machine guns.

The street vendors and shop attendants range in age starting at about eight years old from what I saw. One little boy ran two shops, one across the street from the other. He loved to help me shop, whether I wanted the help or not. It was a good place to pick up earings, wood carvings, and small souvenirs before we left.

Like many foreign countries, you need to be careful about what you drink and eat. Anything with ice in it, or bottles that are kept cold in ice, can carry bacteria that will make you very sick. Even fresh vegetables, like lettuce, can carry the bacteria because they were rinsed in the water. I learned the hard way when I peeled the lettuce off of a sandwich thinking that was enough precaution. Bacteria from the water that got on the lettuce infected my sandwich and two weeks later I was very sick. I felt OK, but my stomach swelled up like a balloon. It was very disconcerting.

If I could take one thing back from Flores, it would be the freshly baked bread. I am not sure why the bread at the bakery here was so much better than in the rest of the world, but I have not had bread that good since I visited Flores in 1993.