Guatemala city has an armageddonesque ambiance to it...
I'm not sure why...not a pretty place in any case.
Heading off to Peten State, 10 hrs on the bus.
They have Airport-like security screening to get on the long distance
Bus to prevent criminals from getting on and holding up the bus later on.
This is extremely common. Now they just block the road with a vehicle
instead and point a machine gun at the Bus. At least the screening reduces the
incidence of holdups by petty bandits with handguns. Let's hope all goes well today...
Rio Dulce at Lake Izabal is an inland Yachtie spot accessible from the Sea.
Finally in Peten !
A new day dawns on the shores of Lake Peten Itza.
Flores is the gateway to the Tikal Ruins.
It is a pretty little tourist town on an island in the Lake.
It was an important place for the Maya but no traces remain of their intriguing past presence,
all was destroyed by the Spanish as the idols and statues encountered were not Christian.
The new Mall on the Santa Elena side of the bridge.
Back in Flores.
Here's the tree.
One can see where James Cameron got the idea. Avatar.
The Yucatan Jungle.
This is what it looks like walking around Tikal.
An example of an unexcavated Pyramid.
The "lost World complex".
Plaza of the 7 Temples.
I think these are in the Lost World complex.
Deja-vu Ankor Wat, 1000 year old temples poking through a hot, dry, green pancake.
The view from the top of Temple IV.
This is the most important Temple in Tikal, it is the Temple of Chaak,
the God of WATER, diving and Windsurfing.
CHAK ! CHAK ! CHAK ! CHAAK !
Great Jaguar Temple from the back.
...and from the front.
It is the most famous of the Temples at Tikal.
Also referred to as Temple I.
Temple I from Temple II.
They are located at the Central Plaza, the heart of Tikal.
Great Jaguar from North Acropolis.
Great Plaza from North Acropolis.
A Northern complex, I think this is group H.
A re-creation of the area.
Tikal is but one of hundreds of sites scattered around the jungles of Peten state & surrounding areas.
There are dozens more Maya cities that have yet to see the light of day, still buried deep in the jungles.
It is quite extraordinary that so many thousands of 2000 year old Temples and buildings still remain hidden from
the modern world (2012 !) where only quetzals and Jaguars are present to witness them in all their overgrown splendour
and hear the silent echoes of shamans past while a Jumbo Jet zooms by in the sky above. Incredible ! Weird !
Note: If England had ONE of these thousands of monuments it would become a major attraction like Stonehenge,
but here most lie buried in the jungle as if they were unimportant WW2 bunkers or something....
Stonehenge by the way is a meager effort compared to these astronomical time pieces still buried in weeds.
Stonehenge is mysterious & lots older, granted, but meager nevertheless.
I don't think most people realize how substantial the Meso American and South American Indigenous cultures were.
It is fascinating that they built these massive Pyramids about the same time as the Egyptians (only a tad later)
and for the same reasons (more or less) having had no contact with each other for tens of thousands of years.
They are as impressive to me as their West Asian brethren (Egyptologists would probably beg to differ) and I am
repeatedly struck by the similarities to the parallel cultures their Asian ancestors hatched half a World away!
The duality (ying/yang) of Taoism, the myriad, goofy, more or less obvious Gods of Hinduism who all have shades of gray
are all represented as is the Jain reverence for life and Buddhist and Hindu stabs at Cosmology. Add to that the name
of Buddha's mother; "Maya" ! Inevitably there will be likeness to most of the world's other mythologies as it's kind of
difficult to come up with new concepts on that front, so you will find similarities with the Greek as well as the Nordic
pantheons. My favorite one, Chaac, the water God, makes rain & lightning by striking his Ax in the sky like Thor!
What a shame the ebb and flow of all these Meso and South American cultures could not continue for a few more centuries
un-conquered, who knows what these crazy fuckers would have come up with by now. All I know is that they could have carried
on a coherent conversation with Galileo back in the day, in between human sacrifices & insane superstitions.
The good & the Bad:
Guatemala is definitely a spectacular country with loads of potential for exploring.
Our itinerary got screwed because of holy week in Antigua so I missed out on the amazing
Coban region with the stupendous eighth wonder of the world "Semuc Champey"
(wow, does that sound Cambodian or WHAT !!??) and the caves of Lanquin...
Then there's the Pacific Coast with Monterrico et all...and countless fascinating
Highland towns far from Atitlan. Mountains, highland & lowland Lakes, two coasts,
historical cities, native villages & scummy towns. All in a small compact package,
with even more just over the borders, Chiapas & Yucatan in Mexico, Blue Belize,
Copan in Honduras & pretty little El Salvador. I can only see Guatemala becoming
more n more hip n happening for travellers as the years go by unless the
situation gets the better of it. Another negative trait is the hypocrisy of the Culture.
People just love to kill, steal & lie while wearing the Cross and talking about God...fantastically curious that...
I Can't remember having been lied to so much in any Country I've ever traveled through before.
It confirms the fact that the more religious a place is the more dishonest and violent the population will be.
Only the middle east is arguably more violent than Latin America and the religious fervor there is obvious to all.
So at the end of the day I guess the Jesus-violence here is arguably less extreme but certainly no less fatal to
the liberty of the human mind, (pagan)cultural traditions and scientific progress.
P.S. Note to self;
A conversation we had with some local women in Antigua reveals the following,
1: A 13 year old relative of theirs spent 3 months in jail.
2: The reason she was in jail is because she had sex with her boyfriend.
3: She was only let out because she was pregnant and agreed to get married.
4: The boyfriend did not go to jail because she admitted that she wanted the sex (she is evil).
That's Sharia Law, no? or Bible Law? Hard to tell those two apart sometimes...
God bless Guatemala. Allah akbar!