We had booked a 4:30AM shuttle for Tikal, one of the largest sites of Mayan ruins. It’s different from the other known ruins because it’s hidden deep in the rainforest. From what our tour guide told us, it’s believed that most of the structures are still left to be discovered. We were able to check out all the major temples and climb all of them but apparently, in order to see all the structures that would take a whole month.
The moment the temples come into view, the sense of awe just washes over you. These structures are enormous, to say the least. Their sheer size is enough to astonish anyone but what really captured me was the how advanced this culture was. They invented the number zero for Christ’s sake! Being there made me realize that I know very little about my own ancestry – I probably know more about other historic cultures and civilizations. It’s quite a shame but I would love to learn more.
The temple above is probably the most impressive one we saw that day. The Temple of the Grand Jaguar was built in honor of Ah Cacao (Lord Chocolate – I like him already). It stands on the east side of the Grand Plaza. On the opposite side of the plaza, facing the Temple of the Grand Jaguar, is the Temple of the Masks (seen below) – built in honor of the Ah Cacao’s wife. It’s a bit smaller, but apparently, when the relative equinoxes come around and the sunrise and sunset align with the temples – they cast shadows from each temple so that they are appear connected. Cool, huh?
No worries, these slabs were only used for (human) sacrificial purposes.
Temple of the Grand Jaguar again.
View from the top of the Temple of the Masks: The Grand Plaza.
I believe this is Temple V – and yes, we climbed to the top!
Our tour guide was a bit unconventional (his name was Boris but he was Guatemalan.. uh, what?) so he told us that he’d rather take us through the rainforest to get from site to site instead of the normal pathways in order to be exposed to what the Mayans would have had to deal with. In the photo above you can barely make out the shapes of some howler monkeys. Note: they don’t call them Howler Monkeys for nothing – they are LOUD. We heard them throughout the entire tour and it sounded like lions roaring.
This really cute snake held up traffic on the staircase up to Temple IV (the highest one in Tikal).
Of course, we had to get plenty of handstand shots around the site. I hope we didn’t offend the Mayan gods.