Today we visited the Mayan ruins of Tikal, a place that will make you feel like Indiana Jones. But before we talk about Tikal, let’s talk about our hotel. This is, by far, the most exotic hotel I’ve ever stayed at. Everything is open air: the reception desk, the restaurant, the pool, the bar. I feel a little like I’m in the Bali scenes from Eat, Pray, Love.
Our hotel is located in the middle of a nature preserve. There are howler monkeys, wild birds, and perhaps even a crocodile and a jaguar up in the jungle around us. The bad part is that we totally have to load up on mosquito repellent.
After breakfast this morning in our open-air restaurant, we headed out on the bus. An hour and a half later, we arrived at the national park that holds the Tikal ruins, where we were given several rules:
1. Don’t leave the group. The last person who got last in the jungle was gone for 11 days.
2. Don’t feed the animals!
3. Don’t fall.
Our whole group walked to the area of Temples I and II. Well, actually most of us walked it. A few people got on the back of a pickup truck. You can no longer walk up Temple I, but there are wooden stairs at the back of Temple II and you can climb those 103 steps.
Only a couple of us climbed the giant stone steps up the necropolis. I really felt like Indiana Jones then. Those stone steps were a lot harder to crawl up than the wooden steps to the Temple.
Then our group split in two. The less hardy took a pickup truck back to the entrance and then the bus back to the hotel for lunch. The rest of us adventurers hiked deeper into the jungle. We saw the Plaza of the Seven Temples, which was just excavated from 2004-2011, so they haven’t been letting people in for that long. Then we saw the Lost World and then we finally got to Temple IV. You climb Temple IV by a series of 196 wooden steps up the back. Amazingly, George Lucas shot a brief scene from the original Star Wars movie from the top of this temple–and I don’t think there were stairs then, which means they had to bring their camera equipment up by climbing the crumbling and very steep ancient stairs in the front.
After our arduous trek, we were rewarded with a yummy lunch with fresh gaucemole in an open-air restaurant within the park.
Back at the hotel, we had a quick dip in the pool before dinner. After dinner, we were treated to some traditional Guatemalan dances performed by some local teens and preteens. I even got asked to dance at the end by one of the boy dancers. You’ll have to wait for a photo of that because my friend took photos with her digital camera, and we don’t have a way to transfer those photos to my iPad.
Not sure when my next blog post will be, depends on where we can get wifi!