Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano
Lake Atitlan from the San Pedro Volcano

18 May 2012

Tikal: The Mayan Ruins

We waited outside Tikal National Park until 3pm, at which point we walked up to the ticket booth to purchase our tickets. The guard who operates the stand waited until about 3:10, just to make sure we knew he was in charge, and then let us buy the tickets. From there, we faced a 17km walk, or wait until another car or bus came by. At 3:30, a family from France pulled up in a rental car. I went to go ask if we could jump in (there were three of us, as another tourist from Spain had the same predicament). As I got closer to the car, I saw there was a carseat with a baby and another boy in the backseat, with the parents in the front. I ruled out the possibility of joining them, but they insisted we jump in the car as there was no other traffic on the road. Louca, the 4-year old boy, sat in my lap, while the baby went up front with his mom, leaving room for Krista and our Spanish friend in the backseat. 20 or 30 minutes later, after an air conditioned ride, we finally got to Tikal.

Our hotel in Tikal was the nicest place we’ve stayed yet. Our room had a ceiling fan, we were given fresh towels, and we had our own private bathroom. Just outside our door, there was a pool to cool down from the blazing, Northern Guatemalan heat. 

The pool at the Tikal Inn was a welcome escape from the heat
We jumped in the pool, and had about an hour to enter Tikal before the park closed at 6. We walked fast, but we made it all the way to “Gran Central,” the heart of the ancient Mayan city. It was incredible. A flat, open field lies between these two Mayan Temples measuring over 40m in height.

Templo I
These temples were constructed about 1300 years ago, when Tikal was at its peak in the Mayan world. Two large complexes lie to either side of these ruins. I can’t even imagine what this place would have been like back when 150,000 Mayans were living here.

The view from Templo IV of Templo I, Templo II, and Templo III reaching above the jungle
The next morning, we met a few others at our hotel at 4am for a sunrise tour of the park. Walking for 30 minutes in the dark, our guide led us to the top of Templo IV, the furthest west Temple in the park. At 65-70m in height, this temple is by far the largest in Tikal, and as it is the furthest west, it has a view of the sun rising with the tops of the other Tikal temples poking out of the jungle top. It happened to be a foggy morning, so we did not get a great sunrise, but we got to hear and see the jungle below us come to life. Howler monkeys, the second loudest animals on earth, starting making some of the scariest noises I’ve ever heard. These are the sounds that the creators of “Jurassic Park” used for T-Rex. Birds everywhere started a symphony of different sounds. We saw a toucan perched in a tree just below us. The whole experience was unlike anything I’ve ever done. 
Here is a comparatively simple ruin inside the "Mundo Perdido" complex

Our tour included seeing more ruins, including the oldest section, named “El Mundo Perdido” or “The Lost World.” We made sure to visit each of the major 6 Temples before exiting the park to get a late breakfast. Now, we are just relaxing by the pool at the hotel until our shuttle leaves at 2:30 when we go back to Flores.

Krista peering out over Gran Central, with Templo I behind her on the right

No comments: