Monday, February 28, 2011

Crazy Bus Trip to Tikal

This past long weekend was a whirlwind of a trip, starting with Geoff picking me up right after school on Thursday (after our day of professional development at school), and then rushing to the bus station. We took a 5-hour bus from San Salvador to Guatemala City, another overnight bus from Guatemala City to Flores, and then finally took a cab ride from Flores to Tikal. Altogether, we were pretty much commuting non-stop between 3:30pm Thursday and 7am the next day. Sooooo, totally hectic!!

I am a sleeping machine, so I slept pretty much the entire way to Tikal. Geoff, on the other hand, slept almost none at all on the way to Tikal. (As it turns out, the overnight bus drivers were insane, and they were going at breakneck speed for pretty much 8 straight hours. Every time I would wake up from my nap, I would feel the entire bus swaying from side to side on a fairly narrow road, because of the crazy high speed we were going at. As a result of feeling nervous, Geoff had trouble falling asleep.)

But, anyway, according to plan, we arrived in Tikal on Friday at around 7am. Which was fabulous! It gave us almost two full days in Tikal itself. We wandered for the most part by ourselves, using the map that we had bought for 20 Quetzales. (The exchange rate is about 8 Quetzales:1 dollar.) WE LOVED TIKAL!!!

Tikal is an impressive show of Mayan culture, obviously, but for me the personal highlight was the fact that it is located in the middle of a jungle and was all kinds of rustic glory. We saw some amazing flora and fauna (including tons of monkeys!!), and heard the howling monkeys roar for quite a while. It made me feel like I was in Jurassic Park. (The park even has jaguars running wild, but thank goodness we didn't run into any.)

Here is Geoff's favorite animal in the jungle (besides the scary howling monkeys). We call this one the "monkey anteater" (not to be confused with their real names).

We also saw an incredible sunrise at the top of one of the temples. For me, it was a really unique experience to drive through the jungle at 4:30am, while everything was pitch dark. (We weren't silly enough to go driving by ourselves, but even sitting in the back of a pick-up truck was pretty scary. I kept looking back at the pitch darkness and thinking about the jaguars that we were waking up...)

We were on top of the tallest temple!! We sat there for a good couple of hours, through all the phases of the sunrise. We also listened in admiration while the alpha howling monkeys did their jurassic roar, which lasted a good 30 minutes. (They aren't morning people, I see.)

Then, another personal highlight of mine was when I un-wussed myself into climbing a 7-story high temple, where the only way up was this really steep set of ladder-stairs!! See left side of the first picture below; the original Mayan steps are deteriorated and cannot be used. (I'm deathly afraid of heights. Actually, Geoff had to talk me into going up, even when I was already half-way up the ladder-stairs.) Real-life application of rise/run?? YIKES.

On our last day in Tikal, we left early and went to hang out in the "nearby" town Flores. It was a beautiful tourist town on a lake. Super chill! There, we caught another amazing sunset -- this time with blue streaks in the sky?? (Maybe that's common, but I had never actually seen that before! We thought it was stunningly beautiful, so we took a picture.)

All in all, what an amazing trip! And half a miracle it was that everything worked out exactly the way we had planned. I'm back and feeling good about being back, but it's going to be hard to be without Geoff for a few weeks.

And then, it's crazy, but as soon as Geoff comes back to El Salvador from his "business trip", we'll have to be tying all of the loose ends for moving and making summer plans.


  1. Hey Mimi,

    Do you think I could subscribe to your comments feeds? I'd like to be able to read them from FeedDemon, which is my newsfeed reader. I added the "comments subscription button" to my own blog by following these directions:

    Feel free to delete this comment after you've read this :-)


  2. Hey Paul,

    I tried adding it, but I don't like how with that gadget I have no control over the links and therefore cannot make sure that I forward all subscription requests to feedburner. I am going to hold out on this until I have more traffic / regular discussion, and maybe I'll revisit this. :) Sorry!


  3. came here from f(t) Kate N. and just had to click on a post titled Tikal. I took the same trip years ago, and the same experiences, except we stayed in Flores, and not Tikal. Did the jungle/temples, including the harrowing climb to the top, and experienced "old man" basketball, (who beat us 20-somethings) with the locals at the court atop Flores. Great pics. I'm enjoying your math posts too, as this is my first stop by your place.

  4. OMG we loved Tikal. Thanks for visiting and bringing back the good memories!!