Monday, March 31, 2014

Tikal 2–Alexander’s take on the Mayan Ruins

posted by Alexander

Our first view of the Great Jaguar temple.
We had to wake up pretty early, and drive for five hours but we finally made to Tikal. An ancient Mayan city that is a ruin now. I expected that we would arrive and already be exploring ancient Maya but apparently we had to walk along some trails first. We passed some cool signs teaching us about the wildlife though. There were howler monkeys that liked to try and poop on peoples heads, and big raccoon rodent things called coati. There were also supposed to be jaguars but we didn’t see any of those. After a little while of walking on the trails we finally arrived at the Grand Plaza. This was an assembly of four ruins. Two huge temples, one slightly bigger than the other and a north and south Acropolis. These were less about height and more about spanning more area.

Toy temple view from the North Acropolis.
Now, I have been to Chichen Itza on the solstice which means there was a special shadow that looked like a snake descending stairs but I was a million times more impressed with Tikal. Aside from a few ruins like the taller temple I mentioned (called the Great Jaguar) you could actually go on a lot of these ruins. They had added scaffolding to the other temple in the Plaza so we could climb up to the top. We got a great view of the Acropolis’s and saw some more temples in the distance we wanted to check out.

Christopher exploring the North Acropolis.

Even though the temples were tall the South Acropolis was cooler. There were so many little nooks and crannies to climb around and we could actually explore it all! We could even go inside the buildings. Although there were no deep tunnels or anything. Christopher and I did a ton of clambering around the ruins which made mom and dad kind of antsy. We also checked out the North Acropolis but I thought it was less impressive than the South.

Scrambling on the South Acropolis with the Great Jaguar temple behind.

Finding all the nooks and crannies.

We could have just seen that and been happy but we had until three o clock and there was plenty of time. We had a snack stop and saw some Coatis and then headed of to the next temple. As we walked along the trails it was hard not to think of when these would be packed with people, and huts, and shops. Tikal after all was a booming city. Mom had a little guide book and when we read about how they had trade routes and messaging with other places that were where Mexico City is now, Mom was amazed at how far they would travel.

Coati (also called Coatimundi) where everywhere.  They acted kind of like dogs.
Then we reached one of my favorite temples. I think it was called the Sunset Temple. It was so high up that we had to climb tons of stairs (newly added) to get to the top. Since it wasn’t actually the ruin that was really tall it didn’t get credited as tallest in the park. But it was definitely the highest up. The view was so fantastic I can’t describe it. We could hear howler monkeys roaring in the background and I thought it sounded a lot like Sasquatch getting mauled by a grizzly bear. There was no guard rail on that temple so one misstep could send you plunging into the jungle. When we had seen enough of the view we set off again to go check out some other temples.

Approaching the sunset temple through the jungle.

Looking out from the Sunset temple.  The view from here...
...was this.
Now we saw a lot of temples that day so I will just tell you about my last most memorable one. We weren’t even aloud to climb it. There was just some aesthetic about the temple that made it the most impressive one. I don’t know what it was called but I will make sure to put in a picture.

My favorite temple.  I'm not sure what it was called.  I think maybe just Temple VI.
The drive back was agonizingly long and everybody was exhausted by the end. We had some pizza from the restaurant bar and went to bed.

If you ever want to check out a Mayan ruin don’t go to Chichen Itza. Tikal is awesome!

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