I slept on the floor, among the pig-shit. Since we only had 3 hammocks, I’d had to use one that was there already, + it was coarse + badly-strung – impossible to sleep on. The bus for Tikal left at 7 am, but fortunately the lady woke us up nice + early, so we had plenty of time for coffee. Then to the roadside, the usual breakfast, + the bus. Unfortunately, we encountered the same wankers we’d been at pains to avoid yesterday.
The bus deposited us at the entrance to the ruins, so we plodded up the road to the first ruins with our bags. Then we realised our mistake – we didn’t have a guidebook, + we did have our bags. We were able to remedy part of the problem when Chris + I went back to the museum to buy a guidebook. Not as easy as it might appear – Guatemala has built a huge modern complex of offices, toilets, etc, but none of it is open, so we had to search round various hotels etc. However, ultimately successful.
Returned to the others + began our tour. Certainly a remarkable place, especially the main plaza, with 2 vast pyramids staring at one another; + temple 4, 212 feet high. However, exhausting work exploring them all, + tho’ the guidebook said 3 days was necessary for exploring the place, I think 4 or 5 hours was enough for us, who are more interested in the broad impression than the details. Returned to the official area via a jungle path, + set up our hammocks in their really nice camp-site. None of the buildings there were open, but the place was clean + free, + we had a palapa (an open-sided hut) to ourselves.
A lazy afternoon, + eventually, rather too late in fact, we lit a fire, + cooked a sort of fish + bean stew – OK, but I’ve had more than my fill of sardines recently. We were a bit too late, because we wanted to see the sun set in the ruins. We gobbled down our food, then trotted off to the ruins, ran up a pyramid, + discovered we were about 5 minutes too late. Nonetheless, it was fabulous sitting there, listening to the screeches from the jungle, watching the sky change colour, with the black silhouettes in front. A hair-raising walk back thro’ the jungle – evening playing cards in a café.
Tikal is my favourite of all the temples we visited, largely because we felt we had the place to ourselves – could almost feel a bit like explorers – rather than being just one more tourist. And though we were just a bit too late to see the sunset itself, it really was magnificent to be there, on our own, as the jungle came to life.