|This entry is certainly deservant of some photos, but because we shipped them out before we got a chance to update you'll just have to depend on the power of the word.
We covered the long road from Lanquin to Tikal over about four days. This split up the traveling a bit and allowed us to really build our expectation for the great Mayan ruins of Tikal. I'll give a quick list, from the old trusty journal, of things we did and saw on that road.
-drove around Lanquin six times in a minivan, looking for additional passengers, before the driver would leave town
-witnessed the Guatemalan "Iron Man"- mostly competing are soldiers from the Guat army. this is a three day race that includes biking,running, whitewatercanoeing, mountaineering, and swimming
-see man throw coke can right into the river at Sayaxche (phonetic trans.: sackofshit), further confirmation that littering is a problem in C.A.
-soccermatch in Flores (aforementioned)
-first trip in the little red, three-wheeled taxi bikes - quite fun
-after leaving Flores spend a night on Lake Peten in a town neither of us can remember the name of
-have 'king of the dock' game with local kids on the lake float. we win.
-wonderful sunset on the lake
-get picked up by old-people tourist van as we hitchhike towards Tikal.
-well, that's enough, I suppose... or is that all there was?
Tikal itself is a spectacular place, but we would admit that for us, it didn't match up to the expectation we granted it. Perhaps this has to do with Tikal being the last place on our itinerary. We thought it would be the great grand finale for our time in Guatemala, a place we really came to admire and enjoy. Mandy admits she doesn't quite like "ruins" and me, having not really considered this as a topic, think I might agree with her. There is something undeniably great about these structures and for anyone who is enthralled by Mayan culture or architecture or tourist-laden, mosquito infested, expensive places it might be great. You never know how a place will strike you and often enough, I suppose, if you are suppose to like a place you find yourself likeing it. In this instance, however, we were told we were gonna love Tikal about a hundred times and we found out that we didn't love it. We liked it.
And don't get this wrong. We really did like it. We were happy to explore the park and we saw all the temple complexes (again, sorry no photos). The history of these ancient Mayans is fascinating. In fact, when considering ruins the most rewarding aspect is to consider the time that it has taken to ruin them. You can contemplate the number of storms that have wetted the stones and the actual winds that have rounded the corners, and when these temples were first re-discovered those folks must have marvelled at how the jungle had taken hold of the buildings. Sitting on Temple Five at sunset I certainly participated in the idea that some similiar sunset was witnessed by some man many centuries ago from the same spot where I was sitting. There is a great romantic and enchanting aura possible in these sacred places.
But these spiritual moments are aligned with the alternative experience of inhaling the bugspray fumes that retired German tourists felt obliged to applicate in the hotel lobby of all places. The weather wasn't great, it was gray, and the sky didn't offer to add any great drama to the photos I did take but you don't get to see.
Highlights, however, included meeting some nice girls (who had attended Unity College in Maine no less)at our Temple Five sunset, rejoining them for our Temple Four sunrise which we had to get up at 4 am to see, our lovely and humorous guide Arnoldo who did teach us much about the ancient civilization and current conditions of the Mayan people, and spending the night in a bit overpriced hotel with a hot shower.
We leave Tikal satisfied and begin to understand that Guatemala will soon be behind us. We head back to Flores where we catch our overnight bus at 10:30 pm.
Eight uncomforable hours later we are in Guatemala City. My butt hurts. Two hours later we are back in Antigua. My back hurts. Half hour later we are both asleep in a bed. When we wake up we will have just 24 hours left in Guatemala and the Central American lg of our journey will be over.