This past weekend was quite the adventure. I got picked up bright and early on Friday morning in a van packed with other Spanish students. There were three vans of people in all. Okay, so I’ve been around some pretty bad smelling people before (my students after gym, my dad after a long run, and this backpacker in Coban all come to mind), but one guy in my van was pretty unbearable. Guess who ended up sitting by him most of the time?…yup, just my luck. I always made sure to get a window seat.
Anyways, we started a very long drive to the main attraction, Tikal, with some stops along the way. After a stop for breakfast and many hours of driving we arrived for our first look at the Rio Dulce, a huge river that runs through Guatemala. It was beautiful.
Our next destination was Castillo de San Felipe, a small castle that was used to stop intruders. After a very short look around we went swimming in the adjacent lake, Lago Izabal. When it’s about a million degrees, nothing feels as good as jumping into the water.
After a picnic lunch on the beach, we made another long trek to Flores, an island in Peten. Unfortunately, we got there at after dark and left in the morning before sunrise so all we had time to do was eat dinner, have a drink, and go to sleep. I guess I can look at pictures online.
The next morning comes the main attraction, Tikal. Now, I don’t know too much about the Mayans, architecture, or archeology, but I found Tikal pretty damn fascinating. Our guide was amazing and so full of information that didn’t bore us all to death. The ruins, which were pretty much all HUGE temples, were pretty unbelievable and set right in the middle of the jungle. Our guide said that there are enough ruins in the park that have not been fully dug up that it could take another hundred years to excavate them all. I’ve been to the Copan Ruins in Honduras which were very detailed. These were not as detailed but absolutely enormous and surrounded by lush green jungle. After a short introduction and breakfast in the middle of the park, we toured the ruins and the best part was that we were able to climb most of the temples.
So I climbed the first temple and it wasn’t too bad. Here’s a pic from the ground:
I figured I would probably climb one or two. As we kept going I kept climbing. We finally got to the biggest temple and I wasn’t going to miss out. The actual ruin was way too steep so they had built a huge set of stairs along the side. After a very strenuous climb to the top, my breath was completely taken away. We were above all the trees looking out at the jungle that went on almost to Belize. It was incredible. The pictures definitely don’t do it justice.
I ended up climbing all the Temples that we were allowed to. Some were banned because it was ruining the ruins (kind of ironic) and some people had fallen and died. I think I did 6 in all. Being that it was the most humid climate I had ever experienced, about a million degrees, and those ruins were high and steep, I felt I had sufficiently gotten my cardio in for the day….In other words, I was about to fall over. The effort was very well rewarded though. Those views were unbeatable.