I´m actually becoming a morning person here due to the sun rising so early and the sound of the birds or chickens as my wake up alarm. Although yesterday I did set my alarm to make sure I was packed and ready. I was picked up by our friend Erwin here who owns a hostel named Sak Luk. He then took me to the beach in El Remate where the Triathlon Allison was participating in was starting. We cheered her on as they sounded the start and waited for her to make it back out of the water and on to her bike. Once on her bike, we caught up with her and rode along side her the whole way to Tikal which was about 20 miles.
Once in Tikal, she put on her running shoes and began her run around the ruins. While she was doing her run, I was guided to the finish line by our friend Estella and her beautiful little girl Esmerelda, to wait for her. It was in the middle of the Central Plaza where Temple 1 and 2 are in Tikal. After climbing to the top of Temple 2, I got a true sense of the magestry of the Ancient Mayans and the beauty of the land where they lived and highly respected. After also climbing Temples 4 & 5 and hiking around Tikal park, I definitely got my taste of the jungle.
The variety of the trees and plants, let alone the insects and birds we saw were incredible. The sounds of the jungle are something I will never forget. I truly wish I had a video camera just to record the sounds. Those of the Howler monkeys which sound like a lion was so strong that we could hear their echo a few miles away. I did catch a glimpse of 2 but they were deep within a few trees and moved along before I could snap a photo.
After hours of walking through this historical place we then waited for a bus that would take us to a very remote and primitive town called Uaxactun. The only running water or electricity is from a generator. We stayed at a hostel that was owned by a friend of Erwin´s. We had to be careful where we walked and use our flashlights since there were toads hopping around. We were made a meal of black beans, tortillas, rice and scrambled eggs with onions and red pepper. This is the primary diet most remote and poor Guatemalans eat.
After being exhausted we all laid our heads down for attempted sleep. I think I did manage to catch a few hours but didn´t sleep too well due to the intense heat and humidity, the absolute blackness of the night and the sounds of the crickets and bugs buzzing against the screens above our head. Once the chickens and the roosters started welcoming the morning, we quickly gathered up our things and walked about 800 ft. to another ruin. We watched the sun make it´s way into the day and had a moment of silence while listening to the birds that Erwin said were saying hello to us.
We then caught the bus which was a very bumpy ride once again from Uaxactun, back through Tikal and ultimately back to El Remate. When back at my bungalow, I put my bathing suit on, grabbed a quick bite of the carrot cake I had bought the other day, grabbed an apple and headed down to the dock for a rest and a swim. The cool water was very soothing and today I noticed all the little fish that hung around even though I was amongst them.
After mingling with some local El Remate folks I headed back to my room and took a very needed nap. A shower followed and some relaxed conversation before Allison and I were picked up by Erwin who has been incredibly generous with being our guide, our taxi and our friend. We are now in Flores and Santa Elena for the afternoon. For the first time there was a heavy rain today and a few degrees of cooler temperatures until it burned off.
The rest of the afternoon will be shopping around, dinner somewhere here in Flores, going to the Maxi Supermercado to get some groceries, and back to El Remate. Tomorrow I will have a full morning meeting with the teens to hopefully get a closer look at some Howler monkeys and the possbility of some Spider monkey as well during our hike to Cerro Cahui Biotopo. After….could be another swim, more relaxation, or who knows…another venture out.
The more I´m here and the more I get to know the local people, the more I learn about the political corruption. Although the land is rich with resources, most people are poor. Similar to the US but more so, there is a big divide between the rich and the poor, the middle class is very small and the lines are grey. Overall, the beauty wins and is what I do my best to soak in everyday.