After a 6 am departure about an hour was spent in search of the elusive Guatemalan ATM with money in it. The Group got lucky on the second try – while the rest of us were waiting – I took some photos of rush hour in San Jose.The next next stop was to pick up an excellent bagged breakfast en route to Tikal. Wonderful local bread surrounded avocado, red onion, tomato and cheese plus lettuce. Fresh pressed juice and fruit rounded out the meal. Our journey to Tikal took us into an amazing blood red sunrise and then into rain showers. The showers cleared as we arrived and we met our excellent local guide who in addition to his knowledge of the site is an accomplished birder and botanist. He really made the trip to the site for us.
Tikal, a UNESCO heritage site, is amazing. It was a huge Mayan centre that flourished between 200-850 AD – finally succumbing to drought , overpopulation and failing agriculture. An extensive canal system drained the city during heavy rains, as well as ensuring a water supply to the inhabitants. The first Mayan highway was built in Tikal as well as some amazing temples. The residences of the elite are designed in such a way to take advantage of natural air conditioning – which we experienced today.
Our walk took us into the main plaza and the awesome views of Temple number one. Magnificent temples, birds and some loonies made the day interesting .
We were greeted upon our arrival in the central plaza with this lady apparently demonstrating Mayan ceremonial chants complete with a smoky fire. She turned out to be a very accomplished pan handler – her lead up to the request for money to placate the Mayan Gods was something quite unusual. Different tactic anyways ……
Our final climb at the site was up to Temple 4. The long hike up was rewarded by a magnificent vista over the jungle to the tops of the tallest temples in the site – a view famous from, for you Star Wars fans out there, the Star Wars Movie A New Hope.
Multiple types of birds and monkeys followed us as we moved through the ruins – some beautiful, some rather odd. Our climbs took us up through the canopy and allowed us to go eye to eye with them.
An awesome day finished with an excellent meal of shrimp cerviche followed by a brief tour about the charming cobblestone streets and colourful houses of Isla de Flores en route to our lake front lodge and a dip in Lake Peten.
Tomorrow we leave for San Ignacio and Belize.