We had just gotten to Guatemala and stayed in the city of Flores for a couple of days, which is actually a beautiful island in Lake Peten Itza. One day, as we sat on the dock just soaking up the sun, an Guatemalan ‘anciano’ (or really old man) came over and started to chat with us. He introduced himself as ‘Miguel de San Miguel’, Miguel from San Miguel, a little village on the other side of the lake.
We learned that Miguel was 85 years old and had lived his entire life at the lake, working most of his life extracting gum from the gum trees in the surrounding jungles. Miguel de San Miguel won us over with his charm, and we ended up spending the entire afternoon with him. He offered to take us out on the lake with his little boat, where he took us on a guided tour of ‘Petencito’, a little island in the middle of the lake which is home to a zoo.
He happily shared his knowledge about flora and fauna, chatted about how Flores has changed over the last 50 years, and he also proudly (and out of of nowhere) told us that he weighed only 80 lbs – but he was in top shape for his age. If you pass through Flores, look out for Miguel’s turquoise boat at the pier and make sure to say Hello.