5/28/2008 06:19:00 pm

Lost Cities and Crazy Guides

Posted by Unknown |

Yesterday was ancient Mayan City day. After getting up terribly early, and eating breakfast beside our serene lake, we caught an early (running late) tourist bus to Tikal, which is a city of ancient Mayan ruins. Tikal used to be the capital city in about 700 AD, of a massive Myan nation that stretched across Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. So naturally, it’s worth checking out.

We arrived at Tikal in our bus full of backpackers, all talking happily about their lives of endless travel, to be greeted by a strange man with a mustache welcoming us to Tikal and telling us what time the bus would be back. In Guatemala you get a lot of helpful people hanging around tourist spots, telling you information, who aren’t really as selfless as their helpfulness might seem. This man turned out to be a guide, hoping to be our guide, which he soon became, after a visit to the bathroom and some bargaining from Jo, who managed to get him down from US$10 per person to 75 Quetzales per person. A saving of approximately $0.

So we set out with Able, our tashed guide, who was rather insane. He was kinda like a hyper active, monkey possessed, drama kid. He was a little bit scary, like if you didn’t quite understand what he was telling you about Mayan aqueducts he might shout at you. And seeing as I didn’t always understand, but I often said “Mmmhmm” I was often worried he would see through my ruse of comprehension and get me in trouble. Often as we wandered through the jungle he would break into bird calls or the noise of a howler monkey, which sounded a little bit like he was having an episode rather than summoning monkeys, but you got used to these mid-sentence outbursts of jungle turetts and accepted it as “just part of the experience.”

Able with Ant 1.jpg

Able Cenable

And it was a rather good experience. Even before we got to see any ancient ruins we got to see spider monkeys flying through the trees. There were monkeys all over the place, high up in the trees, throwing nuts and fruit at us. We should get monkeys in Australia.

The ruins themselves were very impressive. The archologists has restored temples, 40 and 70 meters high. And there are at least 5 of these temples scattered around the place. Some temples they have left as they found them, just tall, steep hills, covered in tress with just the stone zenith poking out the top. Others they have put back together so you can see them as they would have looked during their hey day.

Plus there were living quarters and offices and steam houses and more. The whole place used to be a city of at least 90,000 people. Now it’s mostly jungle. It’s a strange feeling walking around a place that used to so alive and so central and no is just a tourist attraction. It kinda appealed to that deserted city thing I have, but it wasn’t familiar enough to get me as excited as a deserted town would get me.

After a couple of hours of wandering about listening to Able’s informative but rather bazaar commentary we were freed from the jungle back to Tikal’s entrance where we got to eat lunch and sleep on the grass waiting for the bus home.

We pretty much collapsed when we got home. I slept, then watched The Devil Wears Prada (not brilliant but Meryl Streep was great) with Jo, had a late dinner, then went to bed.