Monday, July 11, 2011

Tikal Y'all

Before I jump into the story of my grand weekend adventure, here are a few rando photographs that I had lying around. Also a bit of a vocab lesson :)
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left: Chicken buses are like pimped out school buses that travel all throughout Guatemala. They can have lights and bible verses and pictures of cartoon characters, pretty much anything. Each chicken bus also is named (similar to boats).
right: Tuk tuks are super fun :) They are like motorized tricycles? There are three prices you pay when taking a tuk tuk... 5 quetzales for locals, 10 Q for Guatemalans, 15 Q for gringos/as (AKA me)
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TIKAL ADVENTURE


Though you may not guess it from the following pictures, our trip to Tikal and back was pretty rough. Katy & I booked our bus trip on Thursday--first class seats, shuttle from Antigua at 6:30pm, bus from Guate (Guatemala City) at 9:00pm, arrival in Tikal at 5:30am--and so on Friday, we were STOKED to go. Arriving at the bus depot in Guate however, we quickly learned that we did not have a reservation. We should have taken this as an omen...

No problema, our shuttle driver assured us before proceeding to another bus station. He had us wait in the car while he ran inside to purchase two tickets. First class? He nodded. Well it looked like we were back in business. We crossed the busy street, stepped into the bus station lobby and began to wait for two hours. Quickly, Katy and I noticed that we were the only two gringas at the station and during those two hours, no others joined us.

Finally 9:30 rolled around and our bus had arrived. We were leaving Sketchville, Guate for the famed Mayan city of Tikal. Stepping onto our bus however, we quickly noticed the lack of "first class." No air conditioning, no leg room, no other gringas. Instead, 120Q afforded us musty, reclinable seats, Shakira and Pitbull playing at all hours from someone's cell phone, and a constant fear for our possessions and safety. At least my backpack made for a nice snuggle companion.

It took 11 hours to finally arrive at Santa Elena. Had our bus been direct, the duration of travel would have been more like 9 hours. Indirect travel meant stopping every thirty to forty-five minutes to allow people to get on and off. At certain points of the trip, plastic stools were pulled from the back and placed in the aisles. For those not as lucky, they had to stand for one hour, maybe two or three or four. At every stop, the lights turned on, the bus grew hot and we were awoken to a pretty bad dream.


Finally, around 7am, Katy and I arrived SAFELY to Santa Elena. Within an hour, we were in Tikal.

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SURVIVOR.
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Our accommodations quickly made up for the poor transportation. We met up with our Guate friends who had (wisely) chosen to fly and we all hung out by the pool until it was time for our sunset tour of Tikal.

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The Ceiba tree is the national tree of Guatemala. "Some species can grow to 70 m (230 ft) tall or more, with a straight, largely branchless trunk that culminates in a huge, spreading canopy, and buttress roots that can be taller than a grown person."
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Temple V

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Great Plaza & Temple I & Temple II
& Central Acropolis

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Sadly, that is the extent of my Tikal photos because Saturday night I came down with a bug. Vomit, upchuck, ralph, hurl, puke. You get the idea. Sadly, I missed out on the sunrise tour with all its fog and howler monkeys, but I also didn't have to get up at 3:45. :)

For our return home, we found a FANTASTIC travel agency in Flores where a man named Sergio hooked us up with everything we could need: first class bus tickets, a shuttle to Antigua, and restaurant recommendations. Flores itself was like a little Antigua on a lake.

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super. duper. happy.


I arrived home to Antigua around 8 this morning. I'm getting over the aches and funky-tummy from my bug, but can't wait to jump into volunteering tomorrow. Overall, Tikal was an AMAZING adventure and I recommend it to anyone and everyone. :)