Monday, June 2, 2014

Tikal, Guatemala

If you've been following along for a while, you'll know we love ruins (here and here). Tikal is actually closer to Belize than most cities in Guatemala, so we knew that visiting was something we wanted to do on this trip. We booked a trip through our hotel and had a great guide in Wilbert.

It took about 2 hours to get from San Ignacio to Tikal (with border crossing). The whole drive, we learned about Belizean and Guatemalan people, Mayan history, and Tikal itself. It definitely paid off to have a guide for this trip as we learned so much that we would have missed otherwise. Also, he made the border crossing into Guatemala SUPER easy.

The picture below is a great example of how even the "restored" temples haven't been completely unearthed.

Below is Temple 4. This is the tallest temple at over 200 ft. The view from the top was used as the Rebel Base in Episode IV for all of you Star Wars' fans (me!!).

During our explorations, we saw tons of spider monkeys, green parrots, toucans, coati (like raccoons), and heard many other animals. The weirdest sound was howler monkeys - they sounded like jaguars! Our guides said that we were very lucky to see all of the wildlife since they are usually only active at sunrise. Since it had just rained, the whole jungle was awake!

The temple below is an example of restoration in process. It takes many years before they can even clear away all of the jungle growth from this temple.

This is the main plaza below. We spent over an hour just exploring this area. It is the most restored area of all Tikal. It poured rain on us for about 10 minutes - we were in a rain forest after all!

Tikal was so much fun to explore. It was so interesting to see the unexplored mounds that could potentially enclose a grand temple. It reminded us a lot of Cambodia. We asked our Guatemalan guide why the government hasn't given Tikal more money in order to fund a quicker restoration. Basically - the government is corrupt and it would take millions of dollars (or quetzals) and many many years to accomplish it. So slow and steady(?) it is then.

It's astonishing that not much is known about the Mayan culture. Even their written language hasn't been fully deciphered. I definitely want to go explore more Mayan temples on the Yucatan now!

After a traditional Guatemalan lunch (and a new love of Guatemalan beer), we drove back to San Ignacio. We ended the day at the pool and then great food and cocktails at our hotel.

Next up: Our 1/2 Day at Barton Creek Cave and the end of our time in Central America.

No comments:

Post a Comment