El Mirador - Mayan Lost City Trek
Trip Start Jul 08, 2007
143Trip End Ongoing
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El Mirador is a very old Mayan city "lost" in the Guatemalan jungle (7km from the Mexican border). It contains the highest pyramid of the Mayan Empire. The trek is 132km long and consists of a 6 days jungle walk back and forth. It;s most probably the city that the movie The Fountain talks about, which would hide the Tree of Life. This city was built around 400 BC and archeologists are working hard at understanding more about it and rebuilding it.
Quite a rock n roll adventure to get going on this trek. Took us almost one week to setup the required amount of people to enter this journey (to have an acceptable price and group dynamic). After being 5 people, then 3, then 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and we got to the last day prior to the departure. We were 8 people then, I went to the travel agency, synchronized the group and when I went back to the hostel to get the group to book and pay, 4 people suddenly changed their mind... A 6 days trek was now too much time? We were a bit pissed and sad because we were not planning on waiting any longer to get more people. Somehow inside of me, a little voice was telling me not to worry. I did not want to force this trek to happen, but at the same time, I really did not see myself doing anything else. So I let it go and decided to relax and enjoy my dinner and we will see how things will turn out. Then the incredible happened: 4 new people joined us out of nowhere. One hour later, we gattered everyone and arrived at the travel agency just in time to book the trip for the next morning, 6 am. Later in the evening, 3 new people joined the group and so our group was formed with 11 people. 1 south African, 1 British, 2 Americans, 3 Israelis, 1 Argentinian, 1 Belgian, 1 Norwegian and 1 Quebecois, moi :).
The interesting thing is really how I have been feeling towards this spiritual journey. I really let go, searched my inside and let the events take place without feeling any fear and desire for it... my heart was then pure and it all came to fruition :). This was definetely a proof that I needed to trust my inner voice, intuition and my heart.
Day 0: False start
After a slow departure, we arrived in the last village before the trek called Carmelita. There we were told that we had to delay our departure by one day because the river level was too high. River... what river? We then learned that we had to cross a few rivers to get to El Mirador. That was the beginning of surprises... Oh yeah, I forgot to introduce our dear friends the mules. About 9-10 mules where going to make the journey with us to carry our bags, foods, supplies, water, tents, etc.
A little later that day, I sort of felt weird and withdrawn from my spiritual connection. Almost as if I was expecting something miraculous to have happened already. The spaghetti and beans we were fed probably did not help either. Then I realized that my camera batteries where almost gone. I was only starting to realize that I was absolutely not ready and organized, as any of us for that matter, for what was coming.
Day 1: Mud initiation
We walked in the mud, got attacked by mosquitos and slowly, very slowly advanced in the jungle. A part of myself, that I thought was long gone, subtely started to pop out. I was starting to understand that this place enhanced your fears and negativities. Whatever you bring with you, will be reveiled and amplified greatly. I am not sure about the others, but all day I felt on the hedge of flipping. I felt there was always something testing me, I was having momentary lapses of insanity and the more I was trying to rationalized the situation, the less it worked. I felt I was back at square one (Puerto Escondido) where I realized I was being trapped by my mind. After working hard to accepting what was happening, I started to feel a bit better.
Day 2: Pain
Today was one of the most challenging day of my life. We got up pretty early (4:30am) after a very bad night sleep (kept on waking up). Ate a plate of frijoles (refried beans) and then left. After 4h of mud trek we reached the first river. That was such a bliss. The current was gentle, less moskitos and the sun was nice and warm. I could clean and remove my muddy and completely soaked boots and pants and bathe in the river for a while. Then lunch consisted of 2 apples with jam. The others ate sugary white bread, some processed sausages but as I am a vegetarian, I did not want to eat that. Then we waited for 2hours for the mules who carried the water arrived (good organization here) so we could get a refill and continue with our journey. Then the mud kept on going for hours and hours and hours. We crossed trees, and more mud (dry, wet, liquid) and around 5pm, when the sun was coming down, we reached what I did not imagine. A swamp!! that was going to infinity. Very similar to the one of Yoda;s planet in Star Wars Empire Strikes Back. With no guide in sight, I jumped in and realized that it was much deeper than I first thought. And so I sank all the way to my waist. Got a bit worried about my decision when I saw the others take another route that seemed much dryer. As I was already wet and that my road seemed more direct than theirs, I kept on going alone for about 45-60 min. I finally saw one of ours reaching on me, felt less alone and finally crossed the swomp. I can still feel today the wet and muddy swomp on my skin and feet. With every step, I could loose a boot and fall face first in the water, scraping my camera and the content of my bag. Moskitos kept on buzzing aroung, bitting me. So did the ants, fire flies, spiders and even the trees (pretty spiky). I felt everything was against me and us on this journey. The heat and humidity was intense and every hour I had to put new bug repellent on. But the worst was the hunger. The food being insufficient, no snacks (my lack of preparation for this trek trusting the travel agent. I should know better) affected my energy level and my moral greatly. We finished that day with a 1h in pitch dark walk to our camp site. At that point, I was very near my animal self, could not think, reationalize anything, I devored some cookies one of us had the great idea to bring and I eventually devored the pasta plate our guides made quickly for us. I could not care less about my diet anymore. I needed food not to pass out. I went to bed and that was it for that day. It was an almost 40km day, we were now at Nakbe and 15km was now separating us from El Mirador.
Day 3: El Mirador and its magic!!
We first visited the Mayan city of Nakbe in the morning. Was not much left but a very high temple of about 70m high (very high for a Mayan temple), still pretty much covered by jungle and trees. The walk to El Mirador went well, after the previous day, we were ready for anything! It was much dryer, the jungle changing quickly into a forest and so the trees where wider apart, less tropical and so less wet and hostile.
As soon as we arrived, part of me felt really calm. I did not feel the high energy we can usually feel at such sites. We climbed quickly the highest pyramid (80m) of the Mayan empire and admire from its top the jungle around. We could see Nakbe in the distance, it was so beautiful. We could really enjoy the satisfaction of this 66km trek from Carmelita. The ruins where disappointing however as very little has actually been uncovered and much has been destroyed through time. The question I could read on everyones lips: Why? Why all of this suffering for this? But part of me was very calm and I then felt that something else was going on. Coming down the pyramid and walking for a few minutes in the forest, we then got to 2 estellas (stone tablets). Some of these estellas are believed to contain spirits... as so I put my 3rd eye and hands on the first one and felt wonderful. I could feel the rock literally pulsating, felt my heart dancing, waves of green light going from my 3rd eye to my heart and then to all of my body. I stayed like this for 2 minutes. Then I went to the other estalla. Very different experience, as if the first one opened me to receive the energy of the second one. I felt it vibrating. I was now one with the stone and we were vibrating together. I could feel this very clearly. WOW! This was why I came all the way here. I stayed like this for a few minutes and then left for the campsite happy about my trek so far. We then got in contact with the head archeologist who was nice enough to show us the interior of a pyramid being excavated. They have discovered a temple (around 400 BC) under another one (200AD). The archeologist was so astonished by the discoveries they were making here! He claimed that El Mirador was much larger than Tikal which is one of the largest city of the Mayan Empire. He showed us a big panther head hidden under the temple and my 3rd eye confirmed the great energy in there. Not as amazing as the estellas, but similar to other Mayan sites I have seen on my journey. That night, I made one of the most profound dream I could remember.
Day 4: On our way back
After this great sleep, we visited other smaller pyramids in the morning. Before to leave El Mirador, we went back to the famous estellas. I went directly to the second estella and did not felt much this time. After a few minutes, I went to the first one and the experience was then stronger than the first time. I saw my heart been taken out of my chest and massaged throught vibration of green light energy by the estella. I felt this energy for a few days following this experience!! What an initiation!!
Day 5: Reverse of day 2, therefore pain!
The swomps where not at the same place as the first time, as the rain changes many things, but all the rest was the same. I discussed this with some other members of our group and we concluded that it is in moment like this one that we see who we really are. When no comfort is left to hide behind, all of our negativities come out: our fears, insecurities, defense mechanisms, hatred for others and yourself. If in these moments you manage to control yourself and get in a meditative state, then you can reach/walk towards enlightment. The arrival at the camp was such a bliss. I felt that the hard work was behind me. I jumped off my very very dirty clothes, washed myself (with a water bucket) for the first time in 6 days and I then felt like a new man! I thought the hard part was over.
In the evening, I reflected some more on our journey so far and the following came through: Any reason is good to let yourself feel miserable, to blame others and nurture your hatred for them. When you walk in swomps such as the one we have gone through, the point is to be fast and remain dry because you know your feet will kill you in a few hours if they get wet (blisters). So if the person in front of you is not quick enough, or something annoys you about them, they tend to be an easy target/reason to nurture your hatrid and so your misery. You have to realize that your are the only one who can change your perspective and use this opportunity to cleanse yourself, meditate, get out of the trap (your head), feel your sensations, refrain yourself from reacting and go one step at a time. So basically, I have learned a great lesson and learned to focus on the NOW.
Day 6: Coming out
The first 2h of that day where the worst 2h of all the trek. The way was much more difficult than it has been on the way in, thanks to a great amount of rain. The mud was real liquid, sucked the boots down, it was very slow, so much humidity as the jungle was getting more tropical, more mosquitos, spiky trees, swamps, etc. I could barely keep myself together and then I remembered my previous reflection, focused on how I felt, focused on one step at a time and we eventually made it.
Overall, we had an impactful experience from which we all learned a lot. I would say that I managed to get in a special connection with each of the member of our group. Very nice people, all seaking in their own way to find who they are and what they are here to do. Love to all of you.
I have to give my congratulations to Oliver (UK) who managed to walk about 90km on his (and ours) socks. His boots hurt him too much so he decided to walk on his socks for more than half the way!! I did not wish I was in your socks! :)
For all of you who seeks the same journey... make sure you have enough and proper food/snacks. Some of us almost past out because of the lack of it. In other word, double check everything the travel agent is putting on the truck to get to Carmelita, stuff your bag of snacks, dry fruits, chocolate (but remember the warm temperature)... anything that gives energy. Also, its apparently very dry during the dry season... so up to you! Enjoy!!