Edit Blog Post
Published: December 6th 2013
This is one of the first things you see when you really walk into Tikal. Mayans consider it the "Holy Tree of Life" with the belief that it is the axle of the world (all according to a sign right by the base).
Last Tuesday, the 26th, a buddy of ours, old neighbor Dan, asked if we'd like to go to Belize for the weekend to renew our visas. Since our visa renewal date was coming up soon anyways we said "OF COURSE!" -- but he wasn't 100% sure of his plans so we agreed to chat at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to decide if we really were going.
By 9:05 Wednesday morning, we were emailing work and TRAMA and telling them we'd be out of touch for a week. A few hours later we were on our way to Belize with a very basic plan for the week: Bus to Guatemala City to catch a bus to Flores to go to Tikal and explore Mayan Ruins, then meet up with a friend of Dan's to spend the weekend in Belize before returning home.
It was an overnight bus to Flores, so we got there Thursday morning, and after a bit of negotiating (on Dan's part -- Roger and I are way too non-confrontational for that!) got shuttles to Tikal and back (also to Belize and back for later). Tikal is AMAZING. One of the things I was most excited about before
That white spot down there is me - that's how gigantic the tree is!
coming down here was seeing the ruins and exploring/learning all that I could. After my parents took us to the exhibit at the MN Science Museum (the DAY we left!), I was even more excited to experience all of it for myself 😊 We were at Tikal for about 5 1/2 hours -- and it was not NEAR enough time. We're luckily going back in February when Roger's sister, her boyfriend, and his brother come visit us. We started off our time in Tikal walking the path wondering where the heck the ruins were! The first time we saw any ruins, Roger and I were actually way too distracted by the spider monkeys swinging around above us! We saw earlier that spider monkeys will poop on you so to be careful -- sure enough, I almost got peed on by one! I thought it was rain at first haha NOPE - monkey pee.
There was just a small ruin there so we continued on the path that leads to the Gran Plaza, the main area of all the ruins. We saw so many different types of bugs and butterflies on the walk. And Tarzan vines were everywhere! And bamboo!
When we got to the Gran Plaza, we just stopped in our tracks. It was amazing. They were some of the tallest buildings I've ever seen, with stairs going from the bottom all the way to the very tip-top. And many of the ruins, tourists can climb up and explore the rooms and tunnels through them! A lot were being restored by park workers too. We chatted with a few who told us we could climb right up to where they were! Most of the pictures where we look like we're inside a ruin is that one. There were a lot of tourists around, but it's so big we were still alone most of the time. Behind the building we climbed a lot was a less touristy area. On the map, I'm pretty sure it was the central Acropolis. We explored that a lot too and spent time climbing up the stair area and looking out over the whole area. It was just so incredible being in this area that I've spent years studying, and basically have a degree based on! It made all my years of studying Spanish in school feel so much more real.
We hadn't really
eaten yet so we checked the map and found a restaurant that looked like it was in the park. Sure enough we walked out a bit and there it was! We had our Thanksgiving lunch in the middle of the jungle over looking ruins -- I couldn't make it up if I tried. These animals called coatis
came and hung out with us too! There was a huge pack of them, like 20 or so. They were adorable, and definitely used to the tourists in the area. You could call them like you would a cat, and they'd run up looking for food. I just looked them up on wikipedia, and it says they are also known as Brazilian Aardvarks, and are members of the raccoon family. Apparently they're in the South-Western U.S. - very cool. Anyways, after lunch we explored a bit more and found a huge pyramid type ruin. We hung out there for awhile and sat on the top of it. A huge group of people came and ran up the stairs to take pictures with us - they called us their primos,
their cousins. We got pictures of them too, of course 😊
It's hard to see but there's a spider monkey up there! Probably the one that tried peeing on me :/
left they pyramid we heard the world's most terrifying noise. Roger and Dan thought it'd be awesome to go follow the noise, whereas I was pretty sure we were walking into Jurassic Park 4 and was not 100% for the idea. It turned out to be howler monkeys! The park was starting to get a little darker and there was a group of them up in the tree tops making the most horrendous noises ever! Seriously! Go youtube "howler monkey yell" -- but make sure you're not in public place, you'll get weird looks. We stood there for awhile getting video footage, until I finally convinced the two guys we REALLY had to get going to catch our shuttle back. Of course, it was late (everyone in Guatemala is) so we ended up waiting but in all honesty, those monkeys are loud and big and they were scaring me so I don't even care. (Sidenote: I just looked them up on wikipedia, and apparently they are "foliovores" only eating leaves, flowers, nuts, etc; and also apparently they're really gentle... oops).
We got back to Flores and went out for a Thanksgiving dinner with some backpackers we met on the
Upside Down Spider Monkey!
See him!? Right there in the middle! Roger has excellent picture-taking skills
shuttle back from Tikal. 2 Americans, and a woman from Ireland. It was great company and after we went back to the hostel, showered, and crashed. We had to catch our shuttle to Belize at 5 a.m. the next morning so we didn't do anything too exciting (besides the free tequila shots from the owner of the restaurant!).
I'll write more about Belize in a different blog post -- This one's getting pretty long! We haven't looked at any of our Tikal pictures on the computer yet so hopefully I find some good ones to post.
Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday -- we definitely missed having Thanksgiving dinner with our families and catching up with everyone!
Tot: 0.42s; Tpl: 0.075s; cc: 7; qc: 45; dbt: 0.0268s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.4mb