The Indiana Jones of Mayan ruins
27/11/09 - Tikal, Peten, Guatemala
Random occurrence>>>swapping PSP games with South African Mike
What´s annoying me>>>the tour company scamming us (the guide buggered off after an hour leaving us to join a much bigger group. And they did the same to Tanith and Mike the day before so it´s a pre-planned scam.
We took the bus from Flores at 5 in the morning to Tikal. Tikal is the Indiana Jones of Mayan ruins, a lost city of steep-sided pyramids hidden by vines and creepers, with a soundtrack of squaking birds and growling monkeys. According to our guide, scholars attribute the rise of Tikal to a brutal new method of warfare developed by its warriors. Instead of tackling their adversaries in hand-to-hand combat on the plain, the soldiers from Tikal used auxillary units to encircle their enemies and threw spears at them from a distance. This early use of `air power´, the brainiacs argue, caused fewer home-side casualities and allowed Tikal to become the dominant kingdom in the region. And apparently Star Wars was filmed there too.
That dot is me
As we took a path through towering trees and vines, alive with the sounds of the jungle, occasionally one sound cut through maiking a startling noise that was a cross between a roaring lion and a rampaging t-rex. It was the mating call of the howler monkey. I hear one of the party say "it`s like something from a horror movie...if I didn´t know what it was it would freak me out".
When we came upon the Great Plaza, home to the steep-sided temples you see in all the brochures and guidebooks and where Star Wars was filmed, it was overrun by tourists. I clambered up Temple II and sat down, soaking up the atmosphere and pretending that I had stumbled upon a lost civilisation. It was a conceit I revelled in until I was disturbed by a herd of American tourists.
FRom the Gereat Plaza we made our way along a path to El Mundo Peridido, the Lost World. The path wound its way around huge mounds, covered in jungle with a few exposed stone blocks the only indication that underneath was yet another marvel of the ancient world just waiting to be restored. Not so long ago, all of Tikal was like this.
In the Lost World, from the top of the South Acropolis you get a fantastic view. As far as the eye can see, there is a canopy of jungle with just the tops of some of the other pyramids poking through. It is enthralling and uplifting. This is the highlight of my travels so far.
We decide to leave Guatemala the next day and head back to Mexico as there is very little else to see in Guatemala in the immediate vicinity of Flores. Another 10 hours bus journey to look forward to.