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Published: January 28th 2018
Tikal, Peten, Guatemala
I got a bit ahead of myself in the last blog.
We actually spent some time in Tikal after crossing the border into Guatemala and back into Belize. Commence Tikal…
We (Cheryl, Chuck, and I - Leila) arrived to Tikal Wednesday, January 10, 2018 in the afternoon. It was nice to return and to drive the countryside of Guatemala once again. Guatemala is a very beautiful country with endless hills, valleys, greenery, fincas, lots of livestock, and farms. It had it’s own feeling, as have really all of the places we’ve visited. I am always reminded it is best to take the back roads and take your time getting to know the place, the people, the history and culture, and also the sites, the sounds, and smells. Introduce yourself, make new acquaintances, act with respect, courtesy, and consideration. These are things I try to do, anyways, and it seems to make for good experiences and give meaning to the paths I follow. Back to Tikal…
We arrived to Tikal after lunchtime, so after checking in at the Hotel Tikal Inn we went for lunch at one of the restaurants between our place
of lodging and the entrance to the park itself. Tikal Inn was $50 per night for a cabana with private bathroom and terrace facing the pool. There was hot and cold water, the place was comfortable and clean. There was dining and parking available on the grounds of the hotel. The wifi was limited and intermittent, lights go out between 9 at night and 7 in the morning, the beer was Guatemalan, and the language was Spanish. If this last bit makes you twitchy, skip Tikal. Otherwise you should enjoy the place immensely! I actually appreciate being disconnected and cut off from my normal world and forced into the culture of another. It is refreshing, energizing, and renewing.
The first afternoon we spent approximately 3 hours walking and exploring the trails and structures of Tikal. On our way out of the park we stopped and listed to the howler monkeys as the passed overhead through the trees calling back and forth to one another. It is really quite impressive. That evening Cheryl and I waited for the power to go out to see the stars as I’ve never seen them anywhere else in the world. The stars
Hotel Tikal Inn
at Tikal remain as one of my favorite experiences and memories. Once in the dark we laid in the pool lounge chairs in the dark surrounded by endless stars and the call of the howlers. The longer you stair at the stars, the more stars appear. It is so impressive and absolutely amazing!
Tikal is an impressive site! It is expansive and grand in size and style. Probably the main feature at Tikal is the Plaza Grande (great plaza), a complex of structures surrounding a great courtyard with stelae and altars. I should say too that the modern Maya use many of the structures and altars at Tikal in our present day. This brought me back to the question I’ve heard asked so many times. What happened to the Maya? My answer is nothing, but then absolutely everything at the same time. Their history is nothing but extraordinary.
The second day at Tikal we spent another 6 hours more walking the trails, climbing some of the structures, and exploring the site. This visit to Tikal I was taken more by the abundance of plants and trees, and also the hieroglyphics. I did climb some
of the climbable structures, and explored them as well, but was more struck by what surrounded the structures rather than the structures themselves. Although, the structures do maintain their own grandeur with certain ease in their own right. The trees were incredible! There were ceiba, cedar, mahogany, and endless more towering overhead in every direction. Wildlife included turkey family of spider monkeys complete with a spry little baby in tote, parrots, nameless other birds, of course the howler monkeys, and the pizote. The pizote (pronounced 'pee-zo-tay') is akin to our raccoon. The pizote seemed mostly indifferent to the humans, although sometimes they would cautiously approach, presumably looking for food. When Chuck and I visited Tikal roughly 10 years ago people would feed the pizote, this is now notably frowned upon as conservationists work to maintain the natural setting of the park. Sadly the overwhelming birdcalls Chuck and I remembered from our previous visit were this time lacking. Workers told us it was because there has been too much development and commotion for the birds. A bird watcher staying at our hotel suggested it was rather because it was not mating season at the time. The birds were present, just not
as impressively as we remembered from our last visit.
Regardless, we had a wonderful time at Tikal. To a certain degree it was indescribable. I think Tikal is a place that needs to taken in, in order to really be appreciated. I think, too, Tikal is a place I would always be happy to return to.
Until then, we travelled back to Belize to the Mountain Pine Ridge.
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