Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Guatemala Road Trip log 3 – Rio Dulce - North to Tikal

Guatemala Road Trip log 3 – Rio Dulce - North to Tikal

Friday, 29 June 2015
The green leg, Rio Dulce to Tikal
Otilio, a really good man
Otilio, our van driver from Honduras to Puerto Barrios, lives in Rio Dulce, so we were able to ride with him north to Tikal. As we slowly drove through the long main street, it was good seeing him waving and greeting his various neighbours and friends. It gave a sense of community that the long single commercial road belies.

Cattle country in the north
The road north was the straightest road we had yet seen in Guatemala that gave me a great 6 hours practising Spanish with Otilio without major concern for road distractions. We passed the southwest corner of Belize with flags on the hill denoting the boundary and soon got into the cattle country province of Petén.


Located in the ruins and definitely upscale for us
The final 40+ km from Flores to Tikal became progressively denser and signs warned of jungle wildlife, until we arrived at the Tikal Inn. We were early enough to join the evening sunset tour to the ruins, fortunately guided by an incredibly knowledgeable local girl, Fauvia. (I apologize for the miss-spelling). She was amazing. She knew the history in great detail, but shared it only to clarify the chronology, never as a self-aggrandizing exercise.

Barba Amarillo, or Fer de Lance, a deadly Pit Viper
I used the zoom and my outreached arms were not perfectly steady
but I was not getting any closer!
A Pizote
Her knowledge of the local fauna and flora was equally extensive which proved fortunate when Paul stepped within a meter of a Barba-amarilla, or more commonly known as the Fer-de-lance, a deadly poisonous pit viper snake. Even as Fauvia pointed at the snake, we still had problems seeing it because the camouflage worked so well.  Fauvia also spotted the small banded toucans, the large yellow (fruitloops) toucans.

A curious but shy Fox
The spider monkeys and howler monkeys were numerous enough to be readily seen. We encountered Pizotes, probably from the opossum family, and a small Guatemalan fox.
Temple 1

The architecture of Tikal is stunning with six tall pyramids, several can be climbed, giving impressive overviews of the acropolii, plazas and palace areas. The glyphs are carved in a much lower relief than those of Copan in Honduras but the history is being unravelled and the city-state allegiances over the millennia are being better understood.

Temple 5
Looking down on the Acropoli
Temples seen thru the canopy from Temple 38
a huge Ceiba tree in fore ground, the Mayan connection
from heaven to the underworld 
After a morning visit back to the ruins to climb more pyramids we took a short afternoon van ride down to Flores.

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