A Message From Tikal
I realize that not everyone enjoys ancient ruins rising up majestically above the canopy of lush jungle. This is one of the reasons for the increasingly large number of antipsychotic meds out there. But for those of you not suffering mental illness or who have found the appropriate medication, Tikal sends out its welcome.
Tikal is unequiva, . . . unequive, . . . unequivi, . . . absolutely amazing. I have walked through rain forests with flora and fauna so unusual and fascinatiing they gave me goosebumps. (Have I mentioned I'm a botany nerd)? I have explored Mayan ruins that are every archeologist's dream. (Have I ever mentioned I'm an archeology nerd)? And I have dodged poop thrown at me by monkeys that made me wonder why the Chicago Cubs never have offered a contract to a single spider monkey. (Maybe Mr. Bubbles the chimp can finally break the species barrier). Tikal possesses all of these traits.
We crossed the border from Belize into Guatemala in a van driven by a man whose odd tour guide technique involved telling us of disasters that occurred at each point along the way.
"And if you'll look to the left you will see the place where we were once stopped by armed gunmen who robbed the tourists. And the guy who was sittig right where you are, John, was dragged out of the van and beaten unmercifully."
"And up here is where the guy that used to drive the van was killed when he got out to change a flat and got eaten by a jaguar."
Well, we made it without loss of life. Which was fortunate because no one should die before getting to see Tikal.
The central plaza has the effect of instantly transporting you back in time. Standing in the plaza you could be 1500 years ago watching a good, old-fashioned human sacrifice. Except that no one around you is Mayan and no human sacrifice is taking place. At least, not the day we were there.
I should warn you, there are no escalators. If you desire to see the view from atop the pyramids, you are required to climb stairs. Instruction booklets on manual climbing of stairs is available if necessary for tourists unfamiliar with the process. Not only do you get to climb stairs, but further cardio workout is available for no extra charge when you run through the feces-throwing monkey obstacle course. After which there are more temples and pyramids to climb.
When you reach the acme of the pyramids down the trails you discover the true reward of Tikal. The view is magical. You climb up above the canopy and find yourself surrounded by jungle as far as the eye can see. The only signs of civiliation are not your own civilization, but one gone for a thousand years. Ancient pyramids rise up like mountain peaks around you. Even the symphony of jungle sounds goes silent; the only signs of life the birds soaring just above you as you view the world in a whole new way.
As powerful and in charge as the human race thinks itself, this view says otherwise. "I tolerate you to a point," Earth says. "But I can squish you like bugs should you get too far out of line. Keep that in mind." Then Earth smiles and invites you to enjoy the view.