12 Jan 2008 4:57 pm


From Coban we negotiated some good minivans, and in combination with well timed motion sickness tablets, we got to Flores without much of a hitch. I even got to ride in the front seat for two out of the 3 micro buses, yeah! Flores is up north in Peten, the northern and low region of Guatemala. It’s lower in elevation and much warmer and also more wet. We’re in the jungle.

The island of Flores is not impressive. I recommend skipping it entirely, but it’s the typical gateway to Tikal. Tikal is a major Mayan ruin site, which was begun about 500 years BC. The most remarkable thing about the site that it is situated deep inside the jungle. So deep inside the jungle that the jungle has grown over the ruins and very tall trees are found growing right out of the stone temples. Much of the drama of Tikal is that they have peeled and beat back some of the jungle around the site, but it’s still a jungle, with parrots and toucans and monkeys and big beetles all doing their thing along side these great big temples. You can see and climb up many temples here, but there are loads more small mounds or hills with tress growing all over them and you know there are temples and structures under all of these waiting to be excavated.

We got to the park at 7am, well before the herds of tour groups would arrive. Klaus and I did not opt for the guide this day, so I can’t really tell you heaps about the Mayans except that they were obsessed with time and all the architecture is about measuring time. They had a few different types of calendars for keeping track of different historical things such as the birth and death of rulers. Their calendars and solar calendars are very accurate. No one really knows what exactly put the Mayans into decline, but it was likely a combination of things like population density and disease, drought, and too much war.

In the morning Klaus and I walked around the major large temples before the crowds hit. Once the reams of people arrived, we took a break for breakfast. After breakfast, it poured down rain, and I really enjoyed myself walking in the rain out to the remote temples. There was hardly anyone out there and I saw a group of howler monkeys run across the jungle canopy. Nice day.

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