On the weekend, when school wasn´t in session, we took the saturday morning lancha to Flores and got on a bus for Tikal. The hour and a half drive took us around the lake and then through the entrance to the park, driving deeper into the rainforest. We found our hotel there, one of 3 places to stay at the park.
In order for our ticket to be viable the next day, we had to purchase it after 4pm. So we went to the edge of the forest for a look. Spider monkeys came into the trees above. We watched them use prehensile tails to swing and hold onto branches while eating leaves. Then, they sat embracing-- little monkey hands wrapped around each other´s backs, and groomed each other. I think when I´m home I´ll wish they were swinging in the trees overhead in Forest Park.
So at 4:30 we headed into the park, with only an hour before nightfall. We hoofed it in, past huge ceiba trees, known of the tree of life to the maya. Howler monkeys called out in the distance. We were just talking about how we didn´t really believe that the ruins existed when around the bend a gigantic tower rose in front of us. We entered the grand plaza in awe. No tourists due to the late hour and the silence played heavily on the scene. One of those magical places on the planet. We climbed the stone steps and sat gazing on what the maya created. Each temple 50 years to build, by thousands of hands. All the buildings in sight were restored but black with algae and disuse of centuries. Amazing to think that when they were rediscovered, all were just mountains with temples inside. One of the temples they left as is, covered with trees old and wide and just a glimpse of a human structure poking from the top of the mountain.
We journeyed on to temple 5, on the eastern edge of the complex. It was getting dark but as we climbed to the top you could see the jungle spread out below us, and temples peering our from over the trees. Like climbing a cascade peak, getting over the clouds, and seeing the peaks of other volcanoes poking out. Just us, a handful of others, and a man with a shotgun. Lucas and I joked that it seemed a little unneccesary to shoot tourists who touch things they´re not supposed to, but the guards are there to protect us. Tikal is still at times a lawless place, hard to defend from forces that want to destabilize the park. Tropical sunsets are fast and before we knew it, it was dark. We walked back out of the park, training our eyes to see. Happy to be greeted by the light of our hotel, and a full restaurant of other tourists.
Up at dawn to catch the sunrise up on top of the temple. Such a great time to be in the park-- with no other people around it feels even more like you´re walking through a ghost town of unknown purpose and demise. We climbed the steepest of the towers and ate our cheese sandwiches. Our legs quaking as we sat on the steep precipice. ¿How did the maya climb these, much less build them? Two kinds of toucans and many parrots in the forest canopy. So many Indiana Jones scenes--an actual minature scale model of the city was found in one of the temples. Hardwoods used to build the palaces thousands of years ago, still strong and viable. The amazing astronomy that went into construction and placement of the temples. Equinoxes and solstices filling each building with light and sending it on to the next temple aligned.
Nice to return back to San Andres after the trip to dinner with Alma, and bed amid church songs and marimba.
Canyonlands - White Rim Trail
7 years ago