On Sunday, November 15th, Mike and I headed from San Pedro cross the lake to Panajachel where we were met by our favorite driver, Alfredo Garcia. Alfredo whisked us east to Guatemala City where we checked in at the airport for our evening flight to Flores. After an hour in the air we landed, crossed the tarmac, grabbed our bags, and were met by a driver from the Tikal Inn.
We checked in with dear friend and archaeologist/naturalist Roxy Ortiz. She told us to get a good night's sleep and meet her in the lobby at 3:45am for our sunrise tour. Challenge accepted!
I love walking into the Maya site in the dark with headlamps and hushed voices. Roxy kept up a steady stream of facts and background color, pointing out treasures like this huge tailless whip scorpion
and tiny angel wing mushrooms.
Even before a gentle rain started, the air was full of moisture, which you can see in this photo we took with a timer and flash on Temple II.
As it started to get light we spent our time stalking around in El Mundo Perdido (The Lost World) and the Plaza of the Seven Temples instead of climbing to the top of Temple IV with the other dawn trippers who were waiting in silence in the fog. The fog gave up secrets to us, thanks to Roxy.
Agoutis, monkeys, white tail deer,
and birds like toucanets, crested guans, parrots, montezuma's oropendolas, and toucans. She knows their haunts and their sounds - I'm not sure we would have seen a single one of them in the dim light and the fog without her.
She knows the special places too. This was my 5th visit to Tikal and my 3rd visit touring with Roxy; she brings the buildings and the jungle and the culture of the ancient Maya to life. Can you see the ancient face gazing out from the left side of this building?
She talked to us about these ancient symbols
and about a time when workers were recreating the symbols around the front of the structure; the archaeologist she was working with marred the cement shape with his hand (see below), angry that they were making copies and years forward people would confuse them with the originals. She fit her hand in his hand print, remembering the day.
Standing on Temple IV with Temples I, II, and V in the background.
The beautiful ocellated turkeys climbed the structures, too, to dry their feathers as the sun peeked through.
Back at the Tikal Inn we enjoyed breakfast with Roxy.
Our room, #13,
had comfortable new mattresses
and nice views.
While Mike napped I checked out the museums
and revisited the ruins with a stop at this giant La Ceiba tree, a sacred tree of the ancient Maya who believed it connected the heavens with the earth and Xibalba, the underworld.
I went on a critter hunt.
Teeny frog (that's the toe of my shoe on the right)
Coatis - bunches!
And bats. Apparently the ancient Maya shared my taste for turquoise.
Mike and I enjoyed another stomp around together. That's Temple I in the background - the Temple of the Grand Jaguar.
3 more views of Temple I
After a dip in the pool and dinner we fell into bed early. The next morning, 2sday, Roxy headed to Flores to shop for the hotel and dropped us at the bus station, boxed breakfasts in hand, to take the 7am Linea Dorada bus which left promptly at 6:45 (!), cost $24 each, and arrived at the dock in Belize City less than 5 hours later.
Tikal just never gets old. HAPPY TRAILS!
You can find the complete photo collection for this trip HERE.