The big one of our tour, the one that most of us were looking forward to, Was getting the chance to see the mystical home of the Mayans – Tikal. An early 5am start was hard, and the hour and a half to get there from Flores was dark and tiring, but getting there for the sunrise was one of the highlights of any of the travel experiences I have had. The walk from the entry gates passed through lush jungle, and in the early morning the jungle was alive with all sorts of crazy sounds. The howler monkey especially likes to “go nuts” in the early morning, gosh they were loud! After a stroll through the jungle we came across the furthest temple, a large one that had over 200 steps on a rickety wooden ladder structure to contend with. A bit of hard work so early in the morning, but seeing the peaks of the other temples popping up through the misty jungle was truly a sight to behold.
After capturing the sun rise we headed down to discover the rest of the complex. Even though it was early that steamy humid jungle was already beginning to heat us up. It would only get hotter as we left the shade of the jungle paths and climbed up large temples. So many steps, very very steep too. Coming down was quite scary, if you suffer from a fear of heights the going down is terrifying, it almost feels like you will topple forward!
The main plaza is obviously the focal point of the complex, and by 10am it already gets quite crowded with tourists who decide to sleep in and come at a more reasonable time. I was secretly glad we came early and saw the sunrise in peace.
As we headed out after exploring the temples I took one more look behind me and saw a temple framed by trees,a scene that will always stay in my memory.
As we left we moved away from the entry, where there are the usual gift shops, toilets, canteen etc. Our guide took us only about 500 metres down the road, to a small hut where we could sit on wooden benches and eat a picnic lunch. It was here that we met a local family who were scraping by trying to sell cans of soda to the few tourists who make it this far. Our guide told us that most of the tourists eat and shop in the complex, and don’t see this family selling drinks way cheaper. So we sat with them, bought lots of cans of coca cola, and showed them photos on our digital cameras. The kids were having an absolute ball, pulling funny faces to the camera, then teasing each other when the image played back. Leaving the children and their friendly parents was actually a little hard… I wish we could spend more time playing and having a laugh. Yes, I am a big kid at heart!!