Thursday, May 26, 2011

Tikal adventure day 1

The last few days I have been at a place in Guatemala called Tikal. It’s a part of the Peten region up in the North West part of the country. Its one of the flattest parts of Guatemala in the lower elevations and also in the middle of the jungles. It’s also where the richest Mayan history is and these ruins are the draw to make the trip up to visit.  Now making this visit is kind of an adventure to say the least I was booked as part of a huge package where I had my airline, hotel for one night and a tour of the Tikal Mayan ruins/park one of the two days.   I was picked up at my aunts house at this ungodly early time of 3:45 am and taken to the airport by a shuttle service what they didn’t inform me was that my tiny little plane left from a totally different airport then the Guatemala city one and so I frantically wandered around the wrong place hopelessly looking for someone who spoke enough English to tell me where I needed to go. I had to take a taxi for 100 Q (um a ton when you don’t have much like I did) to the right airport and ended up being able to make my flight even though I was a bit late because luckily other people seemed to be in the same boat and showed up after me.  This flight was insane. I mean it was one of those tiny planes you see in movies where like ten people fit and makes a ton of noise. Like a tiny gust of wind makes the whole thing shift about 20 feet in the air. Lucky for me I am not fearful of flying at all so I had no worry about these crazy events.

my tiny little  plane

look at the view out the window
So after the crazy flight I was in a city called Flores. It was so freaking hot here. I have never been at a place where the sun was so intense. We jumped on a shuttle to the hotel and I got to meet some of the other people also staying in the hotel and taking the tours. At the hotel I was given the option of trading in my daytime tour of thee ruins for two different ones. One was a sunset tour and the other a sunrise tour where you get out at 3 am and watch the jungle wake up. I eagerly opted to make that trade. One I didn’t want to head out in blazing daytime hours and two I figured that if I get two for the price of one that’s such a bargain.  I took a few hours just kind of wandering around the parts of the park I could get into without paying the fee.   I found this random road that seemed to go on forever and started down it. I saw some super incredible birds and even this crazy fox that was tiny like the size of a cat although had these super scary huge fangs hanging out of its mouth. It gave me a super scary death scare as I walked passed it, I was way too afraid to even try to get the camera out of my pocket to take a picture in fear of it attacking me.   It was nice to be out in this pace alone. I have always loved to hike and walk because it makes me the most reflective about myself. Being here where all these wonderful animals and plants were just made me feel so content with everything about myself. It was peaceful and relaxing exactly what I was looking to get out of this trip.
the view from my rooms balcony who I shared with Greg

the hike around the jungle I took by my self

the one picture I could get of the creepy fox thing.

When I met back at the hotel for my tour I was able to meet some other people who were along for it with me as well.  I deiced that I would take this time to try to work on my social skills and strike up some conversations. Again I figured here is this chance where I have no pressure on me. I mean none of these people will ever see me again and I will be so insignificant that I don’t need to worry about making an impression.    It helped that may were also travelers and around my age.  I loved being out in the Ruins. Mayan history is very complex and to think that there were people out there making these incredible temples brick by brick long before the time of machines. They had this ability to figure out stuff that I sometimes feel even modern civilizations couldn’t even with all our tools and gadgets.  It was so amazing and I can’t even begin to describe how it must have been almost spiritual to be in such a place where so many really amazing events and creations occurred.   We had the chance to really explore all around the ruins and even climb all the way to the top of some of the taller buildings to catch a truly amazing birds eye view. It was tough on the body but totally worth it.

a model of the whole park

one of the ruin groups

temple 5 that we all climbed to the top of.

going up was intense

once at the top it was completely worth all the effort. Look at this view!!

OK you know how I have mentioned that I love seeing animals in nature right. Well I will say that seeing animals in the natural jungle was so much better. We saw monkeys galore, both spider monkeys swinging around in the trees looking for food and howler monkeys crying out for each other high up in the tree tops. There was coatimundi all around the place acting like the modern day raccoons would in my home town. We had so many amazing birds like parrots, turkeys, and so many more flying around. The small lakes had crocodiles and turtles and even a pair of wart hogs enjoying the mud for a bath.  I even got to see a jaguar lounging in the mid day sun enjoying a  very bloody carcass for dinner but it was so far away you could only catch a glimpse through the binoculars in the distance.   I want to pack up my bags and move into the center of it spending my life studying the amazing jungle animals. Maybe someday this will be what I end up doing who knows. But I can say that I felt so much more complete as I sat looking at this incredible wildlife that I knew my life is forever changed now.

spider monkey

some sort of cool huge bird.

Watching the sun set over these temples was a once in a life time experience. Seeing how these people had built this city among the properties of moon and sun cycles blows me away but being there you can totally see how it was done.   These people are so amazing.  They were able to create so much from so little they should be an inspiration for us all.  They still carry this sense and history to all the generations still alive.  It makes me long even for some of that same sense of heritage about the African American side of myself I am so out of touch to. Maybe that should be my next step. Try to figure out about the stories and struggles my fathers side had to endure.

another of the large temples in the plaza

from the top of that one in the above photo

another view from the top of the plaza temple

sun setting over the ruins

we were so lucky to have a shaman performing a ritual during our tour so we got to watch him  set up and tell us all about it.

The night was spent hanging out with some of the other travelers I met drinking beer and talking about where we had all come from and gone to and just about who we are.  It was perfect and for once I felt like I was just another member of the cool crowd. Maybe it was being in this foreign country with so many in the same place as I am that made this conversation so easy.  One of those guys was named Greg and he was traveling alone like me and also from the states.  He happened to be my next door neighbor and we shared a balcony. He was also taking both the sunset and sunrise tours. After the tour was over he came over asking if I drank beer. I said of course I do. He told me about this awesome deal the hotel had where you could get 10 beers for like 100 Q and asked if I wanted to share it with him. I totally jumped on that deal so together we sat at a table next to the pool and just talked drank beer and a few other people from the tour and hotel joined us. It really was awesome.  I felt better then I ever had before on this trip and I tried to just enjoy it and feel how easy it was to be this person.   After all that beer and conversation we all eventually headed to bed,  a few people saying that they weren’t sure if they could make it up at 3 am to take the sunrise tour. I knew that I was going to so I made sure to set my phone alarm. Then drifted off into a very contented sleep.

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