Even though we ordered breakfast last evening, the staff manage to botch the entire breakfast service in an impressive manner. Most of us do not get any breakfast at all and the ones who do get breakfast don’t get their complete orders. But we don’t have time to wait around for it to be sorted out as we are scheduled for a trip to the Tikal Maya ruins which are nearby. Along the way there we pick up a guide who speaks excellent English and as a bonus is an actual scientist working with the Mayan heritage, awesome! J1 (Jessica) and I talk about music and it turns out she’s pretty well listened and she convinces me to give Kanye West a try.
We arrive at the Tikal site and after a walkthrough of what there is to see we start towards the first site. On the way we see lots of really cute South American Coatis (or Näsbjörnar if you’re Swedish) rummaging around in the undergrowth. We learn that the vegetation around here doesn’t get very old, the trees don’t get much older than 250 years for instance, making it really hard to determine the age of a lot of the things found around here. Another interesting fact is that maize cannot grow on it’s own but needs human assistance, raising the question of how they actually did it way back then.
The first pyramid isn’t very large, maybe 20 m, and climb-friendly so we all go up and look around. We also learn that all the structures were painted red with the steps in blue back then and the reason they know the age of the pyramids is that they’ve carbon dated the paint. Far from all the structures in Tikal have been excavated and only some of them restored as opposed to just clearing away the vegetation. The area is pretty large and the walk to the next one is almost fifteen minutes through jungle. It’s worth it though since this was the largest man-made structure in the world prior to the first sky scrapers being built. From up top the view is amazing and actually the very same as can be seen when the Imperial shuttles are first landing on the Ewok moon Endor in The Return of the Jedi!
Next up is another set of temples that they used to keep their famous calendar in shape and naturally our guide explains all about what a sham the 2012 hysteria is. Last stop is the courtyard, which is the main event in Tikal with two very large temples and some smaller on the side. We get 45 minutes of free time to climb around here which I utilize fully. This place is really awesome and now I’m no longer as sorry that I missed Chichen Itza (which I didn’t mind much to begin with since it seems much more touristy and also because the cenotes diving was something I wouldn’t have missed for the world).
On the way out there is a bunch of souvenir shops and I buy another football jersey plus one with the local beer brand Gallo. Back in town we go out for dinner to that island where people were robbed a few years back. We’re a large enough group to not be very worried, and find a nice place with a live band and good food. They also have old school chewing gum, the kind made out of sap from the the gum tree and was put out of the market some time back in the fifties when they invented synthetic gum. We each buy a glob but the taste isn’t very good, still fun though and something to treat friends to back home.
We take the long way home to see some more of the town before buying breakfast at the supermarket, the hotel had their chance and lost it already. As we leave the supermarket the staff has already closed up and pulled down the iron curtain. It’s kind of interesting to see the clerk checking the eye slit before opening the door to let me out, it says something about what kind of country we’re in.
Gallo shirt: 60 quet
Football jersey: 100 quet
Quetsal: 15 quet
Food box: 70 quet
Guide tip: 20 quet
Dinner: 120 quet
Gum: 10 quet
Breakfast next day: 63 quet