Tikal

Our shuttle pulled up around 8:15 this morning. Having stayed the night in our nice air conditioned hotel, Alisa and I were ready to look at some ruins. We decided to not go with a guide because they can be pretty expensive. It was a really pleasant hour and fifteen minute trip to the site with a lot of interesting things to look at along the way. Although a lot of the area is poor, it’s really different. It’s as if these people don’t have much, but they have exactly what they need (I hope that makes sense).

our tour guide

When we arrived at the entrance, a man boarded the shuttle wearing a Tikal uniform and asked (in english) us if anyone wanted to go on a tour. I wasn’t gonna do it, but then he said it would only cost Q75. I asked if we could take the tour in spanish and he said yes. It was a good deal. In fact, from what we heard around town, we thought it was going to set us back Q150 ($20) a person. We told him that if we could take the tour in spanish we would pay. We all got off the bus and paid our entrance fees, were given entrance tickets and were promptly put back on the shuttle to continue our trip. Next comes the part of Guatemala that I absolutely hate. The guide asked for only the entrance tickets of those going on the tour and the money for the tour. When the shuttle stopped, we all got off, and he ran off with our money and our tickets and the retuned. The tour started, but Alisa and I were mixed in with people who didn’t speak Spanish. He would talk for a long time in English and then throw in a few spanish phrases here and there. A few minutes into the tour, I asked the guy if we could have another guide because we didn’t want an english tour; we wanted a spanish one. He responded “well then you should have hired a spanish only tour guide.” ARRRGG. This is the Guatemalen trap everywhere. They tell you what you want to hear, take your money first and then your ticket, and if you are not happy you can’t do anything about it. Alisa and I figured this out quick on the streets, but I didn’t expect this in a National Park and especially by an employee for crying out loud! IT’S LIKE A NATIONAL PASTIME HERE!

Ok, now that I got that off my chest, I feel a lot better. The ruins are awesome. There are a vast amount of ruins here that it can be overwhelming. Although Alisa and I were mad at the guide the whole time, he did take us to a lot of really nice spots around the park that would have taken us hours to find. He also was able to point out a toucan in the trees we never would have seen. At one point, we also saw a troop of odd looking raccoon/monkey animals on the ground. They were really odd. We also saw a huge trope of spider monkeys in the trees jumping around and playing. Some of them were only about 10 feet from us. It was an interesting experience. We were able to climb most of the giant ruins and have our pictures taken on them. It was really exhausting to climb them because the steps on those things are gigantic. You almost have to scramble to get up one of them. When you’re at the top, you have a pretty amazing view of the jungle. When you see the other ruins in the distance, it almost makes you feel as if you have time traveled into the past.

We made a lot of stops along out tour, so our guide could take time to discuss why everything was laid out the way it was. One thing I really appreciated about this guide, is that he always used the phrase “this is what we think” “this is our best conclusion” (statements like these are true for a lot of other things we assume we know). We learned that a lot of the buildings were designed around the positions of the sun. At some points in the seasons a shadow of a snake appears on one of the pyramids. At other points, the sun will align with other sets of buildings. We also learned that they pyramids were all painted red and that they build new pyramids on top of the old ones each time a new ruler came into power. As a result, many of these pyramids took over 1000 years to build. Finally one of the coolest things, buried inside one of the oldest pyramids was a scale model of the actual city. This means that the actual layout and design was actually planned nearly 1000 years before it was finally completed. This scale model is in a museum in Guatemala city. After our tour was over, Alisa and I hung out in the Grand Plaza for a little over an hour. We climbed around on few more pyramids and had a lot of fun exploring. It started raining when we were high up one of the pyramids, so we decided to just head down in case it got too slippery.

We arrived back at the shuttle with about an hour to spare. We took that time to just relax and get out of the sun, however, there is no way to escape the humidity. We made it back to Flores in the same amount of time and just like in Antigua a couple of days earlier, the driver just dropped us off on a random street. We had to pull out a map to find out where we were.

We decided we would skip the next ruins site and head straight to Coban tomorrow and try our luck back in the southern part of Guatemala. We also had a nice dinner at the cute little bistro that I really like. On the way home we decided we would have a movie night using my Amazon Prime. So we picked up some junk food and returned to the hotel. We had the junk food in hand and were ready to go however when we tried to play the movie, we got a message that said “Amazon would not work in the region we are currently in because of licensing issues.”

my feet smelled pretty bad after the hike

We decided to just go to bed instead.

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