Totally Ruined!

Trip Start Mar 11, 2011
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Los Amigos Hostel, Flores
What I did
Guided tour of ruins

Flag of Guatemala  ,
Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The 4.30am departure from Flores for the day trip to Tikal National park was painful at best. But when the heat (and the insects!) crept in around 8am, we fully comprehended. 

The ancient Mayan city ruins of Tikal is buried deep in the jungle bursting with wildlife - tarantulas, a fox that pooed on our path, howling monkeys (known to throw things at tourists), toucans eating worms, a woodpecker, peacock turkeys, plus hundreds of neon-green hovering flies, mosquitoes, sandflies and other biting pests! Needless to say we were well-coated with insect repellent, so much so that the tarantula initially refused to rest on my hand. Then he got comfy - a little too comfy - nestling in for the long haul. The experience was not bad at all, especially with the knowledge that they are quite docile really and apparently rarely bite people. I can relate to being Miss Understood! ;)

We were also introduced to the bashful Mimosa plant whose leaves shrink and turn inwards when touched. Very curious, indeed, providing hours of entertainment. The range of trees in the jungle were awe-inspiring. The most impressive and most sacred in Mayan beliefs is the Ceiba. Mayans honour this tree as an energy connection between the Cosmos, Earth and the Underworld.

Then of course, there were the ruins themselves. Tikal is one of the largest excavated sites in the Americas and it even requires a map to navigate. Yet many mounds of ruins have yet to be excavated due to lack of funds and the time-consuming nature of doing the job right. The various structures like temples, houses, palaces, were literally hidden by the dense jungle. It was mind-boggling to see the apex of each structure sticking out above the trees, knowing that they had only had very basic tools.

Who knows what else will be discovered in years to come, and what more we will learn about the Mayan people? For one thing we know that they were awesome architects who built steep structures that are standing strong since the 4th century BC in a seismically active region. They also engineered the structures in such a way that allowed for great acoustics so everyone could hear the ruler when he addressed the masses. That's why you have so many tourists clapping as they explore the ruins. We also know that they were excellent mathematicians and master astrologers. That's what their range of calendars are based on. By the way...
Have you heard that the world is coming to an end on 20th December 2012? Prophets of doom have been mongering that fear for years, claiming that the Mayan calendar says so. Rest assured! The Mayan descendants we met say it's a total misrepresentation. It is true that one of the Mayan cycles comes to an end next year but then a new one starts. Just like we celebrate the end of a Gregorian cycle on every 31st December. No reason to panic and scream "Armageddon outta here!"
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