Guatemala diaries: Tikal the jewel of the country

452457474491486454Camino Real was a beautifully spread-out hotel. I had to take a lot of steps to go through the pool area and get to the rooms. My husband found himself all bitten by something on the river and goes to sleep after taking an anti-histamine. I have the evening all to myself. I roam the grounds and go around looking for the Canadians since this is my last chance to see them.I find them up on the terrace looking at stars! The constellations are bright and incredible. They explain that we are far away from city lights and also closer to the southern hemisphere. It is magical to see Orion’s belt, The Pleiades, the big and little Dipper. I see another side of the Canadians: they know a lot about astronomy and are good teachers. Being totally geeky, I love all this. It is almost 8pm, I eat something in the restaurant and go to bed after a long conversation with the two of them. I shall miss these guys who have gone through so much in life and have been friends from grade school. I shall miss their wry humor, their different accents, their intelligence and most of all their kindness to us. We exchange emails and bid our goodbyes.

The next morning after breakfast, we find that Bugs is not there, but a new guide, El Sabio.  He speaks flawless English and is very knowledgable about the Tikal area. He tells us that he lived in the US for many years when he was younger. Cara and Steve are still with us and we drive to the grounds of Tikal. El Sabio talks about environmental degradation in Guatemala but also about efforts being made to counteract it.  He reminds me of the young man I met in Amatique, but is more animated and articulate about his love and passion for his country.

El Sabio shows us first the grand scale thinking of the Mayans when they built Tikal. The plan is immense and the presence of waterways to keep their city functioning is foremost in their minds. Of course heirarchy is important and the more powerful among them, like royalty and noblemen live closer to the sources of water and transportation. We walk around to look at the pyramids and I am overwhelmed by their gigantic pyramids and the arrangement of each one of them. Climbing on top leads you to see the positioning of other pyramids. Mathematical calculations in laying out this city was  an integral part of the planning for the Mayans. We see the mighty Ceiba tree that is so revered by the Mayans here. We also see some ocellated turkeys that are colorful and very tame around us.

I am glad we waited till the end to see this magnificent site. We have lunch at the park with hundreds of people under a shaded area. El Sabio first drops Cara and Steve back at the hotel, more goodbyes… Then we go to Flores airport and take the tiniest plane with no flight attendants  for a one-hour ride back to Guatemala city. The vacation is almost over.

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