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Tikal
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Tikal

I’ve been cranking these posts out for a while . . . I need a Tona.

Where is that damn n-yay when you need it on this godforsaken American-style keyboard?

OK . . . Back to reality.

The pilot on the flight home said that as we were departing, and everyone in the jet laughed. I don’t think anyone else in the plane had been so far removed from the reality as I.

I am the Haganator, a super sex robot sent back through time to change the operation of one lucky website and make sure that each picture opens up in the same window.

I ran out of gas . . . again. Luckily, I was about a kilometer away from the entrance to the park. This would be the last time I ran out of gas. I have to admit, this and the last time I ran out of gas were really not completely my fault. When the guy stole my keys and I ripped off my gas cap, I lost gas mileage when I used a pierced condom to cover the gas tank cover.

Oh, I didn’t tell you about the guy stealing my gas cap, did I?

I was in Copan getting cash from the ATM as I was about to head off to Utila. I thought I would have no prolbem getting to La Ceiba and staying for the night before an early morning departure on the ferry out to the island.

Au contraire. I got out of the ATM with my Lemps and procured some fruit in bags from girls who didn’t know that when I asked for four bags of fruit that the price multiplied four times. I could see my bike clearly from the fruit stand and noticed some guys looking at me. They were doing more than looking; calculating, it seemed, but I was enjoying my pineapple too much to be worried about anything.

A Jeep Cherokee pulled into the line of sight between myself and the bike. Five minutes pass and I am finished with the fruit and get back to the bike to find my keys missing. Yes, I had absent-mindedly left the keys in the ignition. I had an extra ignition key but not an extra gas tank key because my ignition had been replaced in the crash and I had left my second ignition key in Costa with Eve.

I get on the bike after telling the woman in the store these guys were hanging out in front of to let the bendejos know that they can go puta themselves because they were not getting my bike. I went to the nearest hardware store, and after borrowing every tool in the place to mangle the lock on my gas cap, the son of the owner runs to get the town locksmith, even though it was Sunday (he went and picked him up by taxi at his house – such hospitality!). The locksmith gets the cap off, but can give me no way to consistently open and close the tank, so I trash it and strap a rubber on that bad boy.

Everyone laughs, and the credits roll.

Copan ain’t got nothin’ on this place. I think Tikal is home to the tallest ruins, but I am not 100% on that. I am 100% on them being the highest ruins above sea level, though.

Again, wish I could afford a guide because I don’t know what the big city center and all those stones sticking out of the ground in the park area was for.

From Wikipedia:

Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centers of the Pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now modern-day northern Guatemala. Situated in the department of El Petén, the site is part of Guatemala’s Tikal National Park and in 1979 was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The closest large modern settlements are Flores and Santa Elena, approximately 64 kilometres (40 mi) by road to the southwest.

Tikal was one of the major cultural and population centers of the Maya civilization. Though monumental architecture at the site dates to the 4th century BC, Tikal reached its apogee during the Classic Period, ca. 200 to 900 AD, during which time the site dominated the Maya region politically, economically, and militarily while interacting with areas throughout Mesoamerica, such as central Mexican center of Teotihuacan. There is also evidence that Tikal was even conquered by Teotihuacan in the 4th century. Following the end of the Late Classic Period, no new major monuments were built at Tikal and there is evidence that elite palaces were burned. These events were coupled with a gradual population decline, culminating with the site’s abandonment by the end of the 10th century.

So you know by now that I am a pretty unorthodox kind of guy. You would probably guess that I wouldn’t have a ‘regular’ day here doing anything. If I was staying in one place, my days were pretty standard. Eat, go to the market, hang out with friends at the beach or study and then go out to the bar – no big deal. The rest of the time, I can’t really think of a day when I was visiting a place or traveling that I had a day where nothing weird came up.

I’m still stuck with a bad case of the Lemps, and no one will come near me with this horrible disease. The cost of admission is $15 US or so, but I don’t have it. They’d accept USD if I had it, but not currency from their neighboring country, Honduras. At this point in time, I am not about to turn around and miss the splendor that is Tikal.

I go to the restaurant inside the park and just outside the gate of the ruins and order some food. It’s delivered and I finish it and go to pay with the Lempiras.

They say no. They tell me to go change it at the resort. I go to the resort, they say no. The resort tells me to go to the bank near the tourist trap shops at the visitor’s center. I get there, they won’t change the money. The bank tells me to go buy something from one of the shops, and they won’t take the money.

I go back to the restaurant and they say, “Oh well, guess we’ll give you free breakfast.” Damn. I have the money for the breakfast in Quetzales, but I don’t have enough Quetzales to get into the park.

I look at the map and see that there looks like a way around the alligator swamp. I figure, how bad could going through this alligator swamp be anyway if they just let alligators hang out in it without a fence around it? It’s worth a look around.

Turns out the map is purposely incorrect in one place and you can just waltz right in the wrong way up a drainage channel. No worries.

I have saved $25 this way and it is promptly taken from me when I get to the next town – details to follow.

I thought this video is was to be one of a giant leaf-cutter ant colony – it was processing on Flickr for over a month.

It was a pretty awesome site. I keep wondering what we have that is akin to these sites today. Some megalomaniacal guy who needs a monument to his achievements/being puts up gargantuan and ornate structures at great expense.

Trump?

Temple 3, I think.

Those were the names of the larger structures, and then the smaller areas had more intricate sounding names, like “Valley of the Seven Temples.”

Yeah. Real original.

I was behind a group of old French ladies when I walked up the stairs to Temple 2.

Even French accents from old ladies sound hot. I think I need to pursue that and take up residence in France for a while.

Now French accents of African women, not so hot.

I had asked a German girl to give me a southern American accent vs. a northern American accent – she couldn’t. I can recognize the difference between the French accents and slight differences in Spanish accents, but I couldn’t demonstrate them. I guess with a bit more practice . . .

This one was the tallest structure there. There were a ton of stairs, and there were about fifteen people hanging around after the hike to the top.

Hey, two out of three ain’t bad.

Looks pretty sweet! How did I not get the whole rock in the photo. These are the types of pictures that I usually throw out because they don’t mean anything to me, but I’m keeping this one. I like the intricacy of the carving

I guess they used to let people in before sunrise so people could take advantage of the ambiance of the misty mornings. That’s why I got there at 5:30 AM (well, that and to sneak into the place without paying).

For a reason that is quite apparent to me and a bit sad, this picture reminds me of the DuckTales video game. I don’t know if it reminds me of the Genesis version where Donald was the main character or the Nintendo version where Scrooge was the main character. I think if I hadn’t changed my name to my middle name in 2002, I would have went with ‘Scrooge McDuck.’

My cousins grew up in Longmeadow, MA, and my Aunt still has the house there. Their neighborhood had the tallest trees I remember growing up as a kid. There was something regal about having tall trees in your neighborhood – it made it seem older; more well-established.

I always envision my kids living in a neighborhood with tall trees. Not one of those suburban mcmansion neighborhoods that keep popping up these days, but one of the old ones with the tall trees. I constantly wondered why the mcmansion neighborhoods had been clear-cut before construction before a builder I knew told me it was so much cheaper.

Obviously, the tall trees in this mini-valley reminded me of that type of neighborhood.

He was just chillin’ in the valley. There was no one else around, and if I didn’t see this guy three times, I saw three of them. He was quite docile for a lizard – I am just going to chalk this up to him being around a lot of humans.

You can see a person’s head at the top of the staircase railing on the left side. This temple looked like a more foreboding climb that IV, but I think it was just that you could see all the stairs in a straight line, and the rise on these bad boys was something to be reckoned with. There were more people at the bottom of these stairs than anywhere else in the park.

View from the top of Temple V. Nothing that amazing. You wonder if the king came up here that often. I am guessing no.

Coincedence? I don’t think so.

I was at this one for about fifteen minutes. They came out of about twenty five different paths and I couldn’t even think to find of where the nest was. I started tracking one trail back and it diverged before ten meters – it was an exercise in choosing your own adventure. They might have been from different colonies for all I know.

At this one, I split up one of the trails by spitting on the ground and wiping my spittle around in the dirt. That got the ants to stop going that direction, but when I started to do the same thing on a closely connected trail, the ants seemed to get around the spittle a lot easier. I didn’t really have too much spit the second time, though, so I am not drawing any conclusions from this.

Back to Temple 1. One more with a blue sky background before I go.

No idea what this thing was, but it sure looks tasty.

Requisite scale model map.

I missed a bunch of this place – I needed to get to Belize City by nightfall and I was kind of done with the ruins for the day after three hours, so I peaced. I don’t think I missed much, but whatever those things are in the dead center of the picture, I definitely didn’t see.

In the morning when I was here at about 7:00 AM, there were six or so people lined up with their corn to grind it. I wanted to take the picture then, but I thought it would be rude, so I waited until now, went and got some gas and took the video. The people that were there before were aged from five to forty and didn’t look rich. This was at about 11 AM – and a school day – so I know the kid was being used by his parents to do this work and taken from school. Really, a tragedy.

So I almost died earlier in the day of taking this picture.

I was going about 85Kph on my bike, because I was on a road that was pretty well maintained, and I figured that I would be blowin’ and goin’ the whole way from Tikal to the border. Without warning, I came upon a rut in the road that threw my bike into the air a good foot and a half. Barely sticking the landing, I dropped my speed down to about 60Kph and there was it to stay for the next hour’s ride to the border. I would say that this was the worst road that I encountered in Central America, but it was consistently awful, so I am still going to rank the Honduran road from the southernmost border in Nicaragua as the worst (http://bit.ly/kOs6G). This picture shows that the battery and the license plate have literally shaken off on this ride.

The border town in Guatemala . . . it didn’t look that bad, but it was a haven of thieves. There is absolutely no reason to stop there. It’s called Los Achiotes and you should avoid this place like the swine flu.

So here is the part of the day where I give all the money I stole by sneaking into Tikal back to the local economy. Instant Karma. I’m going to keep this short and in bullet form, because I don’t like writing about my bad experiences in Central America:

-Met this guy who offered to help me out, seemed like a nice guy
-Brought my bike to a place where I thought the guy would pinpoint the problem
-Went and had a beer with guy who seemed like a nice guy, turns out he’s a convicted felon, beats his sister, and is drunk most of the day
-Went to try to change money my Lempiras in the town, the guy brought me to all of his crooked friends who wanted to screw me over on the exchange rate
-Went back to the guy who was fixing my bike, it looked like he hadn’t done a thing to it. I am convinced today that he didn’t
-Watched him put in the oil after I said I wanted an oil change
-Paid him $25 because he said he ‘couldn’t charge me any less,’ and I didn’t want my nuts cut off
-Guy didn’t actually fix what was wrong with my bike

I leave, go to the border, the Guatemala is pretty much the easiest exit I had to do (before Mexico) and they speak English on the Belize border, so I spent a little less than 20 minutes here.

Technically, this isn’t a picture at the border . . .

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