If you are in Guatemala you have to visit the Tikal ruins in the Tikal National Park. It is like going to Florida and not seeing beaches- it is an icon of Guatemala. My original plan was to visit it this weekend after I was done with my Spanish classes, because of the change in my plans I went Wednesday. It is located in the Peten region of Guatemala 40 miles from Flores, where I went when I left San Jose.
Tikal is the site of one of the largest known Mesoamerican civilization. The park encompasses 220 sq miles and the ruins contain over 3000 structures many not yet excavated. The city was prominent from 400 BC – 900 AD, at its peak it had over 130,000 inhabitants. The Mayans were very sophisticated people who were very technological advance according to their calendar the world ends in 2012 (you know like the movie 2012). I wouldn’t hold my breath. Another movie Tikal was in was the first Star Wars, which is not a sappy love story thus I have not seen it.
I decided to do the early 4:30 AM tour to beat the crowds and some of the heat. Since I lost my phone I do not have a clock or alarm. So I woke up every hour or so and checked the time on my computer until. I waited outside in the dark in front of my hotel for about 45 minutes for the shuttle, which was of course late. I walked to the back of the bus and begun speaking to Piper and Kim- my friends for the day. I normally try avoid white people with cornrolls…
While waiting for my tour to start the people started talking about their mosquito’s bites and sun burns. One girl had huge red welts on her legs because of the bites. Another girl showed me pictures of her “water blisters” which apparently happens when you are in the water for a longtime and you also get sun burned. Her whole back was cracked and peeled- I told her it look like the slaves in Roots after master beat them. I really feel bad for white (and my light friends) people and what they have to go through just to be outside.
My group of 13 was guided by Boris.
As we made our way to the first set of Temples- we found a tarantula.
Of course all the (non black/me) people wanted to touch it.
These monkeys sounded like lions, they scream the whole time- they are called howling monkeys.
I was so done walking around at 11. The crowds were starting to come in and kit was HOT! I walked back with Boris to eat and wait for the 12:30 bus. While walking I think he was hitting on me as he told me about how white woman love him but he like dark girls. Ok, Boris. We also talked about Mayans. He made it very clear to me that he was not Mayan. I knew the other term for people in Guatemalan Latinads through one of talks with Nabila. They are basically Mestizos. I asked him what he thought of Mayans. He then responded that they were good people…before telling me that they were cultureless and had no respect for anything. It was so interesting to hear his thoughts about them after spending so much time with indigenous Mayan people. Especially when he makes his living showing Mayan ruins. To foreigners all Guatemalans are the same, just like all blacks are the same to whites. Of course, many of us believe there are huge differences within us economically (low/middle/upper class) and culturally (continental/ American/ Caribbean/etc). For some is always someone holding down a people/country and for many Latinads in Guatemalan those someone’s are Mayans. Boris clearly identifies more with the colonizers blood in him then with Mayans- whatever works for him. I enjoyed talking to Boris I learned a lot about him and his country I even know how much he makes a day. Side note his siblings have “Latino” names- he got his name from a Russian man who was his father’s best friend.
We finally made it back to Flores at 2:00. The city and my room were no cooler. I have been relatively cool throughout this journey in Guatemala. In Coban, I asked Yohana everyday “Donde esta mi amigo sol”, she assured me I would find the sun in Peten. The Peten region is so much hotter than what I could have imagined- and no AC.
The next stop is Rio Dulce/Livingston- The Caribbean Side.