01 August 2016

A trip to the Mayan land

One of the reasons we chose to spend hurricane season in Guatemala was to do some travelling in Central America, a place none of us have visited before.

This week, we made the first trip. Renting a car is not available in the small town of Fronteras, so the only two options were to go with a bus (the first class even has AC) or to pay a driver of a van to take us there. Because there was 10 of us,  having a driver and splitting the cost of the van was about the same price as the first class busses. But a lot more comfortable.

After about 205 km and 4 hours of driving, we got to the small town of Flores, one of the closest settlements to the Tikal National Park. Flores is a very touristic island and is full of gift shops, restaurants, hostels and hotels. Staying a night is cheap, with prices ranging from US $20 to US $80 for a double room.


A restaurant in Flores

The Tikal National Park is open from 6 am to 6 pm and so we asked Humberto, our driver, to pick us up at 5.15 in the morning to make sure we were at Tikal when the park opens and take advantage of the cooler hours of the day.

Tikal is one of the biggest Mayan ruins of Central America with some of the architecture dating back as far as the 4th century B.C. It is believed that Tikal dominated the Mayan region politically and economically, with a population of about 90,000 people. As with many of the other Mayan ruins, Tikal was later abandoned, around the end of the 10th century. And it was to remain abandoned and forgotten until 1848 when the governor of the region visited it.

At the entrance of the park, you're given a map and you just follow the different paths and signs to get to the ruins. In the process, you find lots of wildlife: we saw toucans, coatis, lots of birds and even howler monkeys.

Start of the hike in Tikal

Temple II

Another shot of Temple II

Temple I

Burial Grounds in between Temple I and II

On top of Temple II, overlooking Temple I

The kids playing "Let's go up and down the pyramids"

Camila on top of a pyramid

Temple V

On top of Temple IV, overlooking temple III and Temple II. Here  a scene for Star War's New Hope was filmed.

Mom, I'm tired...

Before going to Tikal, I used to wonder how could such a place just disappear. But after visiting it, it became clear. The ruins are located in the middle of a massive jungle. You're surrounded by luscious green vegetation, looking for pyramids you  know are there and yet you can't see them, Then you get to a clearing and there they are. Some temples are low but some, like Temple IV, are about 65 meters high.
Some of the pyramids have been maintained and others, whether for lack of resources or simply for educational purposes, have not. In those cases, it's really clear to understand how nature simply takes over after some time. In a lot of places, there are unearthed ruins yet to be seen.

Nature taking over a pyramid.

The place is absolutely stunning and it took us about 7 hours to see all of the temples and pyramids. By the end of the hike, we were all really tired of walking and going up and down the pyramids, but our hearts were fuller. 

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