We finished up our time for now in Belize and headed to Guatemala for 3 weeks in the jungle. We got rid of our rental car the day before and took a taxi to the border. We were very familiar with border crossing with a vehicle from our time in South America and decided against taking a rental car to Guatemala. Once we crossed the border we met our hired car, who had a sign with our name on it,the driver was very patient while we purchased our tickets for Tikal (you must buy them at a bank) food and got money out of an ATM. The money is called the Quetzales and is worth 7.7 Quetzales to 1 dollar at the current rates. We also convinced our driver to take us to a nearby Mayan ruin called Yaxha.
Yaxha was only 30 minutes out of the way and was a spectacular ruin, situated by two lakes, Yaxha is translated as Agua Verde or green water. The ruins are laid out on a sprawling site, laid out in a linear cross pattern dotted with temples some that reached above the tree line. Only the biggest temples were excavated leaving many structures covered by dirt and trees. We climbed some towers in the blazing heat, after summiting the northern temple I left feeling impressed by the Mayans.
As we were getting ready to leave the site we heard some noise in the tree above us, and after some posturing were able to see some spider monkeys. They were so graceful in the trees and used their tails so well, it was our first monkey sighting so we were very excited. After getting eaten by bugs and melting in the hot sun we met up with our ride, had lunch and then were on our way to Tikal.
We arrived in Tikal and checked into our hotel the Jaguar Inn Hotel which was situated just outside the park for easy access and will allow us to get into the park early and beat the heat. After the long ride and walking around in the hot sun the kids were in what we call slap happy hour. This period of time usually ends with them saying mean things and yelling. This time the kids were yelled at by a French woman which after the fact is pretty funny…
We woke up at 7:00am the next morning and set out on our Tikal adventure; we had purchased the tickets the day before. After much cajoling to get the kids up we were off to the Jaguar Temple. We had to hike a kilometer or so before we emerged into the grand plaza… As we emerged from the jungle the base of the Jaguar temple emerged into our view and was somewhat recognizable like it had always held a place in our consciousness.
There were lots of stelae or large sculpted stone shafts around the park with interesting carving, many of the Mayan kings were depicted on them.
We visited lots of temples and ruins including climbing the temple that showed the famous view from STAR WARS.
We hiked about 5 miles around the park in the hot sun, I was frankly amazed that the kids lasted as long as they did. Once we all got hot and crabby we headed back to our hotel and had lunch at a neighboring hotel that had a pool. We had lunch and paid $15 for two kids to play in the pool (Mimi didn’t want to) it was lovely to cool off in the heat of the afternoon. l think I ate the biggest burger know to man and loved it.
Later Mimi and I took advantage of our tickets for the park that didn’t end until 6pm, apparently you had to pay more to stay for sunrise or sunset. We re-visted the grand plaza and the main temples and enjoyed being awe struck. We all went to bed early that night being exhausted. We were off to Flores the next morning.