Feb 28

Hauled in by La Policia! / Tikal

by in Guatemala, North America

I was playing pool with the young men of San Andres. All of I sudden, I saw the barrels of 2 AK-47′s come in from the door to the bar, which was closest to our table. A third followed and I was relieved to see they were in the hands of policemen. Then they indicated that they wanted everyone against the wall. Being as brown as I am at this point, they didn’t consider that I might be a volunteer or tourist so I made my way with the rest of the guys to the wall. The others kept looking back at me and smiling because they knew I was an international volunteer. Anyway, the cops were very courteous and just did a quick pat down. It was obvious they were only interested in guns, of which there are a lot in Guatemala. Even if I had a knife, which I carry occasionally, they wouldn’t have found it and even if they did, I think they would have let it slip.

The next day I went to Flores and from there to Tikal. I watched the sunset from Temple II, looking towards Temple IV and it was very beautiful. That night I camped at Tikal on the grounds of the Jaguar Inn. There were huge spiders outside the tent the size of tarantulas but much faster so I made my entrances and exits of the tent very quickly. Luckily nothing got in and the mosquitoes weren’t that bad either. The howler monkeys however, were something else. These medium sized monkeys make a tremendous sound and until a guide told me the next morning what they were, I thought I was hearing a Jaguar outside my tent. The next morning, I got up at 4:30 and my group left for Temple IV to watch the sunrise just before 5:00. I found it to be the most contrived tourist trap I have ever seen. There were probably over a hundred tourists there and the sunrise really wasn’t that spectacular. However, there was a lot of fog that morning so perhaps it would have been better had there not been any. The wildlife coming to life was nice but again nothing that amazing. I explored the ruins for another 4-5 hours and have to say as a whole they were unimpressive.

The guides could have been better also. They didn’t seem to know much about the Mayans beyond their standard repertoire. Part of the reason for this is that to this day there is much about the Mayans that we don’t know despite their not being that ancient a civilization. By building with limestone in a high humidity climate, the Mayans didn’t do themselves any favors. Their ruins, sculptures and especially records (In the form of Hieroglyphs) are badly eroded and barely legible. Ruins in Egypt and Pakistan that are 3,000 years older are in better shape and indicate a more advanced civilization than whats at Tikal. Currently, there is construction of new “ruins” taking place in Tikal, the idea being to portray what the past may have looked like. However, the recreations are not clearly marked (same as in Copan), which I feel is misleading to tourists who think they are looking at original artifacts. Many tourist I spoke to felt the same way about Tikal. After seeing 2 of the most famous Mayan ruins, I wouldn’t recommend going out of your way to visit any Mayan ruins for historical/archaeological reasons unless you have a fascination with the Mayans specifically. The one saving point of Tikal however was that the jungle and whatever wildlife we did see were fun walking through.

3 Responses to “Hauled in by La Policia! / Tikal”

  1. From moosejamal:

    After travelling to many ancient sites in Europe, I have to revise my harsh criticisms towards Tikal. I would recommend going to see this most well known ancient Mayan city. My temple IV sunrise was on a day with thick morning fog and perhaps had it been clear, it might have been pretty cool. The place really is very nice. The clueless guides know very little and are arrogant. Instead of a guide, I would recommend reading up on Tikal and the ancient Mayas beforehand and bringing a map.

    Posted on June 7, 2008 at 7:42 pm #
  2. From Jonathan Bridges:


    Just checking in on your travels to see how everything is going, I was the one that met you at the IMF and we had to do your DM upgrade the day before your departure. Hope all is well and have fun on your adventure!


    Posted on April 29, 2013 at 11:28 am #
    • From Mustafa:


      Thanks! Travels only just started yesterday. Did you buy a bike?

      Posted on May 1, 2013 at 11:16 am #

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