Sunday, August 8, 2010


About a month ago, the two interns here this summer had their trip to Tikal cancelled at the last minute because of their plan to take the bus.  I told them that I would try to plan a trip there before they left and that I could drive.  The trip expanded to 8 people in two cars.  Along with the interns, we had my boss and his wife, the Ambassador's daughter, and an American and a Brit who work for the Solicitors General in Belize.

Throughout the weekend, we had the problem that I like to call the "Slowest Common Denominator."  Basically, this means that any large group always moves only as fast as the slowest person in the group.  It's not always the same person, but there is always someone at every stop.  On this trip, I think we were all the slowest common denominator at some point, but the big annoyances were the Guatemalan border crossing and every restaurant we ate at.

Due to weather concerns and a lengthy delay at the border (there, the officials were the slowest common denominator), we headed straight for Flores rather than Tikal.  Flores is a town on an island in the middle of a lake.  We had a great lunch, featuring the world's largest kebabs.  These things were huge and delicious.

After lunch, we found our hostel.  The 6 younger people were all staying in Los Amigos Hostel.  The atmosphere at the hostel was great.  Very rustic and they even had a parrot.  But the accommodations were a bit lacking.  While I still think I am young enough to stay at a hostel, I fully realize that I am willing to pay more than $7 a night for some A/C or my own bathroom.  I think by the time I turn 30, I may have to say good bye to the hostel for good.  But, I still have a few years left.

We wanted to go swimming in the lake.  Just down the road, there was a dock jetting out into the water.  Lakes are my preferred body of water.  I grew up on a lake in Nebraska and would one day love to be able to go boating on a lake on a regular basis.  The water was perfect.  Not too cold, but not too warm.  The lake was very deep so we could dive off the pier without worry.  Two of the girls decided they were going to swim out to the (much) smaller island near by (see the background of the picture to the left).  After swimming, we changed and then walked around town before we went to dinner.  It was a fairly early night as we were getting up early to head to Tikal.

Tikal is home to some of the largest excavations of Mayan ruins in the world.  In its heyday, Tikal was home to over 100,000 people.  Considering this about the size of Belize City or about 1/3 of the entire population of Belize, this is a pretty astounding city.  The city was "lost" for years before being discovered in the mid 1800s.  Real excavations of the site did not begin until the 1950s and it is still ongoing today.

There were five main temples and lots of other low-lying buildings.  Temples I and II are on opposite sides of the Grand Plaza.  You can climb Temple II which gives a great view of the Plaza and the Temple I Great Jaguar across the Plaza.  (see right).

After trekking through jungle for another 2 miles or so, you can also climb Temple IV.  Temple IV is the tallest structure and provides a view like nothing I have ever seen before.  The canopy spreads out before you like a rolling green sea, until it melts into a green-grey horizon.  Poking above the trees, like sailing masts drowning are the tops of the other temples.  In the picture on the left, you can see Temples I & II on the left and Temple III on the right.

After we left Temple IV, we tried to make our way to Temple V, but got lost and ended up on the path out of the park.  We decided to head for food and then for home.  A few more pictures below.
Sam and I with the canopy and Temples behind us.

1 comment:

  1. Hi. I found your blog via "the roundup" a few months ago and have been following your adventures. I saw this article today and thought you might get a kick out of it!

    Take care ~ Kristen