Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Tikal

Eric and I went for the earliest bus we can get on from Rio Dulce to Flores (tourist town for Tikal). And at the stop I saw David from Tacuba, El Salvador! He arrived in Rio Dulce from days of diving in Honduras, and wanted to goto Belize for more and better diving.

The chicken bust arrived 40 min late and they packed as many people as they can, I ended up standing for 3 of the 4 hours to get to Flores. Luckily (or unlucky), the bus driver drives very fast!

Anyway, David and I caught up on what's been happening. Besides his bad diving experience in Honduras, his sunrise tour group, some 70 people was robbed by 3 masked & armed robbers in Tikal! The first 20 people or so in front handed the money over, while rest of them ran away! Interesting stories seems to happen to David!

After saying good bye to David again, Eric and I went to get the 2PM shuttle ticket from Flores to Tikal, we're going to stay within the park, so we can see it at sunset and sunrise. The tent I rented was big and comfortable even without a mat (Q20 more for a mat). We got into the Tikal ruins around 4:30 I think, perfect soft light, blue sky and few white puffy clouds, made for good pictures. I got out around 6 as it was getting dark, had a shower, washed some cloth, but Eric was nowhere to be seen, I thought maybe he was eating with other friends he made on the shuttle (only 2-3 places to eat in the park). But by the time my meal arrived (around 8), Eric showed up, said he was lost in the ruins because he did not have a flash light and stayed too late! Luckily he managed to shuffle-feel his way out and with help of a guide who happens to be leading two tourists with flash light.

Since there is only one internet place in the park, they charged an arm and a leg for using it - I spent $2 for 15 minutes. Anyway the power at the lodge shuts at 9PM.

There was a crowd at the entrance around 4:50AM, some of them arrived from Flores (they got up around 2:30AM). We paid Q50 ($6.5) for a security guard not wanting get robbed. Most people paid Q100 for a guide. The strangest thing is that our guard disappeared soon after we started. It was replaced with another an armed guard when we got to the sunrise place at temple IV - so much for security! Foreign tourists pay about $20 to get in (verse local of $3) and they can't even provide basic security!

Anyway it was very foggy, so there was no sunrise other than hearing the jungle come to life with various jungle noises. Not worth the Q50 spend. One can just come in at 6AM and still enjoy the sounds. Anyway I left the group and started my wondering of the Tikal ruins among the thick jungle. It was nice and cool to walk in the jungle and visit various parts of the ruins. The sun broke through around 9AM. It got hot really quickly after that.

I finished the morning walk through around 12PM, and went to see if I can do a tour of a nearby ruin Uaxactun tomorrow and was told they need 4 people minimum to do this tour, again a tourist willing to pay the $60, yet can't. So I need to pack up my backpack and checkout (and get a refund for one night). I saw Eric at the camp area and we said our goodbyes, he is leaving at 12:30PM and going to Belize on Wednesday.

After a badly needed lunch break and drink, I head back in to the ruins for a little more picture taking. On the way in I saw Ken and Dottie from Rio Dulce coming out, I know they will be here, but did not know when. It was still hot and sun still high so I took about an hour of siesta at the Gran Plaza.

Around 3 I started head to temple IV the highest structure in Tikal hoping for good overall picture, but the clouds had move in, and hazy horizon made the good picture difficult. But I managed to found bunch spider monkeys, and able to get a few good pictures in (very difficult as you're shooting against bright background or dark canopy and the monkeys are constantly moving). Anyway by 4:30 I was ready to get out, tired feet, thirsty and hot, and coughing getting a bit worst. The slow van got back to Flores around 7PM. First order of business after checking into a hotel is dinner, and then internet - shower can wait till tomorrow :) Did not have a good night sleep at all, I was hot and coughing and sore throat kept me awake a lot.

Tikal is impressive because of the high and steep temples as well the being surrounded by thick jungle teeming with wildlife (and few robbers). I saw many spider monkeys, and noisy howler monkeys, a toucan, parrots, and many other birds. The highest temple is temple IV, which is 64 meters (around 213 feet) high above the jungle's green canopy.

This morning I went into the sister town of Flores, Santa Elena to check out the bus price and schedule to go to Belize. The non-chicken bus wanted to charge the full fare to for Belize city even though I am getting out half way at San Ignacio. So there might be a little more chicken bus/minivan awaits me. Stephanie is willing to go into Belize with me, so that will be cool.

I have 1.5 free days here in Flores to wait for Stephanie to arrive, and lots of cheap and decent internet, so pictures should be coming in bunch soon - it is already uploaded.

PS I am having a sore throat and cough at this moment (since the finish of my volcano hike). Thanks for Dr. Alex, he thinks I have a viral infection as I feel totally fine otherwise.

3 comments:

Evert said...

Nice pics! AND it sounds like you're really hitting it off with Stephanie. *wink* Hope you feel better soon!!!! :)

Jonathan said...

haha, we're traveling friends that shared some common travel interests

Linda Wang said...

Traveling friends ... uh huh :)