Flores and Tikal Mayan Ruins

We left San Ignacio later than we planned due to a late bus, but we got over the border and then to Flores, Guatemala before sunset.  After we were picked up, it was not long before we were at the border.  First one line for one guy to take the first look see at our passports, then another guy took a look see and stamped the books.  Then we had to cross the border by foot, going directly into the Guatemalan immigration office.  This line was going slow because it seemed some travellers were confused, and we found out why when we got to desk.  They wanted $3.00 from us, legally there is no charge to go into the country.  If we had the money in Belize dollars, US dollars or even Guatemalan Quetzals we might have given the corrupt so and so worker the money, but Jim slapped some Belizian coin on the counter, equaling up to a whopping 22 cents US, and said, “That is all the money we have!”  I was so proud of him, but scared too!  Later on he told me he had seen the guy stamp both our passports already, so what was he to do, not give us passports back!  He did give us our passports and feeble 22 cents too!  We found our bus and waited for the rest of the passengers to make it through the ever so fun immigration process.  The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful, except the herd of cows blocking the road, but that is the norm down this way.

Flores is a great little town on a little island in the middle of a big lake!  It has the feel of a  isle, but instead Greek of the whitewash, there is color everywhere.  The cobble-stoned winding streets lead up to a main park in the middle of the island which is at the top of the hill.  You can be entertained at the park, by non-stop basketball games or the local cheer-leading squad practicing their throws and jumps, mind you in Flores, there are more boy cheerleaders than girls.  There are also the secret little pathways squeezed in between buildings, as if the tiny island really needed short cuts.  Stuck in door fronts are a plethora of Guatemala artwork gift stores.  Guatemala has the most wonderful textiles of all of Central America, and the multi-colored hammocks, skirts, and purses just added to the festivity of the place. 

Information Link about Flores, Guatemala

PHOTO ALBUM LINK

Speaking of festivity, we were there for the starts of Kings Day, January 6th, when the three wise men went to see baby Jesus bearing gifts.   Big huge explosions started at around 4am which was followed by throngs of people singing, laughing and stampeding around the jig-saw puzzle streets.  After a couple of hours of this, I got up to see what was all the racket and all I saw from my room was a really really nice sunrise.  There are worse ways to be woken up!

Speaking about getting up, we had an early start to get on over to Tikal to check out the massive ruin site. Jim and I decided to go on a guided tour, since we really like to learn as much as we can when we visit places. This guided tour was a bit much, like 20-30 people too much. Caesar was a great tour guide with a lot of information, but trying to keep a bus load of people together is not easy. And all the waiting we had to do for the slower looky-loos was kind of irritating. Besides that, Tikal, was majestic as ever! I was there 6 years ago, and although there were much less people, there was probably less money for upkeep too. With that in mind, there was a lot of fixing up going on around the place. Nice for future visitors, but seeing a Mayan Temple with scaffolding around it, just takes something away. I am impressed with the changes they made to get to the top of Temple IV, the highest temple. The last time I was there, you were basically climbing a tree and then a ladder in a tree, now there were sturdy, yet steep, stairs.

Before I go any further, here is a link: Information on Tikal

After some guided information on the way to Temple IV, we finally got there. It was not only the place I was excited to share with Jim, but I hoped to share the experience I had the last time I was there with Jim too. At the top of Temple IV you are well above the tree line. Now picture this, a ball of light shining through the foggy mist that hovers over the tree tops and all you can hear is the prehistoric sounding grunt-growl of the howler monkey, hundreds of them, all over the ruin site. When I was there the first time, I was awestruck. I felt I was back in time just waiting to see a Brontosaurus head pop up with large branches of leaves hanging from its mouth. I see him turn his head side to side making sure there isn’t a T-Rex around to spoil his breakfast. It was so surreal. Unfortunately, I did not have the same experience. Maybe it was because part of the top of the Temple was covered in scaffolding, maybe because there were 30 other people tucked into one little area, or maybe it was because the few howler monkeys left in the park could not be heard over those 30 other loud people. None the less, you could still see the other temples popping out way above the tree line and the mist, yes, the mist was still there. It is still a beautiful sight and I hope Jim enjoyed it this time as much as I did the first time.

After scrambling back down the long stairwell, we headed on to other Temples. We climbed some, some we watched others climb and some only one of us climbed! We whisked our way through the dense forest that surrounds most of the ruins, finding a surprise here and there. A new discovery to see, even a temple we can now climb, and then there were others that were closed off for preservation. Wear and tear is not kind to 2000-3000 year old structures. We were there for over 5 hours, walking every bit of that 5 hours, and we did not even see the ball court! We did snaked in and out of living quarters, old market places, an acropolis or two, and probably a palace as well. Amazingly made, much sturdier than stuff is made today, but why did they leave? Besides the ground being basically made of Lime and the area having no water source, why did they settle there in the first place? Interesting people, amazing history!

TIKAL PHOTO ALBUM LINK

I would say we completely enjoyed our trip to Tikal, but at some point there must have been some kind of weird Mayan ju-ju going on because Jim and I had few spats. It did not effect how we felt about what we saw, the history we learned, or the photos we took, we just wanted to kill each other, nothing too serious! Fortunately, we got over it and by the time we were back in Flores we were back to normal.

We showered, napped and then later set off for the evening, well, for dinner at least. We made it for sunset dinner on the lake and then after we took a walk around the main park where we sat and watched the local life pass us by. Glad we stayed in Flores, instead of at Tikal, it is a quaint island village one should not miss when in the vicinity.

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~ by HenderBalz on January 16, 2009.

One Response to “Flores and Tikal Mayan Ruins”

  1. Hi!
    Tikal is one of the most spectacular, amazing and impressive sites i´ve been ever in my life, any information or photo isn´t enough to discover the magic and the greatness of the place. Recently i had the opportunitty to visit Tikal in a guided tour and it was simply an unforgetable experience.

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