Tikal was cool, but I’d been up for 23 hours by the time we watched the sunrise over the temples.
We left our hostel at 3:00am to catch sunrise over the park. We’d heard that sunset was better since sunrise is typically nothing but fog, but we had an 8pm night bus out of town that night so the earlier trip was our only option.
The night before, fully intending to be in bed by 9, Clay and I found ourselves eating dinner with four folks from LA. I enjoyed their company and we hung out discussing bikes, rock climbing, music, and our travels, and when I realized it was already 12:30am I gave up on the idea of sleeping. At 2:45 I packed my bags, and by 3 we were outside for our bus.
Sunrise in the park was foggy, as predicted. There were incredible howler monkeys in the jungle, making such loud and bizarre calls that Clay actually thought the park was playing dinosaur sounds over loudspeakers to create some sort of ambiance. (I, too, thought they were speakers at first, they were that loud and impressive.)
We were greeted by these weird monkey/raccoon-hybrid looking things after we climbed down from the top of the temple, and they were unfazed by the dozens of tourists running around taking their photos.
He did demonstrate how you could stand in the middle of the two main temples (at the white circle in the photo above) and create an incredible echo between the two buildings. And he also explained that the tops of the temples were oriented such that you would communicate from the top of one to the top of the other using the echo effect, without letting the people on the ground hear what you said.
All told, we spent about 6 hours in the park. It’s a really interesting place, with lots and lots of ruins, but the jungle so completely took it over that most are just mounds of vegetation requiring excavation. Those that have been re-exposed are covered in a heavy layer of moss and mold, though that certainly does nothing to diminish just how impressive of a complex it once was, and still is.
After the park, we went back to the hostel for dinner and some final packing before our 8pm bus to Guatemala. I napped for an hour before dinner (after being awake for 34 hours), and tried to get some sleep on the bus but it was sporadic at best. After a 5:30am transfer to Antigua, I’m now eating fruit and drinking tea in Rainbow Cafe while waiting for the 12:30pm shuttle to Panajachel (and then a 40 minute boat ride from Pana back to San Pedro).
Clay is staying back in Guatemala in order to catch his flight home tomorrow. I’ve left him in the care of Anaisabel and Marcos at QuetzalRoo, where I hope he can catch that Eagles game he’s been talking about for weeks. Safe travels, Bro!