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Guatemala

Full Moon Experience?

But Covered by Clouds


View 1998 Belize, Tikal, Atlanta, and Cozumel & Bermuda on greatgrandmaR's travel map.

I had heard that it was a mystical experience to see the full moon rise over the monuments of TIkal, so I planned my whole trip so that we would be there on that date - 12 March 1998

Before you go, James Michener's Caribbean is a good book to read to get some insight into the Mayan culture.
a2af8010-f072-11ea-b2eb-e121bf028853.JPG
At least the first couple of chapters (it's a long book). It gave me a basis for understanding the the Mayan sites in Belize and the whirlwind tour of Tikal.

Wednesday 11 March 1998

We got up at 6
Sunrise from the cabin window

Sunrise from the cabin window


and chased the cows out of cabin area. (The electric fence was down).
Inquisitive Cow

Inquisitive Cow


Our car was still there - it had not been picked up by the rental company yet.

The excursion from Hidden Valley was to pick us up at 0700. I was very anxious about whether we had been forgotten. They finally arrived at 0730.
At the border, we picked up Walter the Guatemalan guide (no Belize guides or non Guatemalan guides are allowed). We went through the border paid the exit tax, got some quezels, and got back on the bus.
Belize exit fee

Belize exit fee


We picked up an armed escort courtesy of the Army from the base just inside the border to the junction of Flores and Tikal.

My cameras have started acting up. The batteries show as low on both of them. We saw many horses from bus but saving the batteries, I didn't take any pictures. We passed some lakes.

The tour included park entry fee and lunch. They offloaded us at the entrance. First we had a rest stop at the Jungle Inn.
Water truck in the morning

Water truck in the morning


Sign at entrance

Sign at entrance

Looking back to the entrance

Looking back to the entrance

Walking in

Walking in

Caves?

Caves?

Top of the tree

Top of the tree

The ceiba is a sacred tree

The ceiba is a sacred tree

A tourist reading a sign

A tourist reading a sign


The main thing people come here for is to see the Mayan temples and some of the other buildings (more than 4,000 of them). Tikal was an important Mayan site for more than 1500 years (from 900 BC to 900 AD) and at its peak was one of the great Maya cities, but then the jungle took over. European archaeologists exploring the eastern Guatemala lowlands region excavated mounds which led to the discovery of the skyscraper-like temples.
42830094791885-Entering_the_..onal_Tikal.jpg69966782791887-Entering_the_..onal_Tikal.jpgInformative sign about the Acropolis

Informative sign about the Acropolis


The ruins are quite extensive, the buildings are spread over a large area in the jungle (and more structures are still buried beneath the dense rainforest). Get a map of Tikal at the stalls outside the Visitors Center, or the Tikal handbook by William Coe also has a good map
large_791910-Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpg
Side of Temple 1

Side of Temple 1


This is the side view of Temple I which was the one where climbing was not allowed. This was where one of the greatest kings of Tikal, Hasaw Chan K'awil , formerly called "Lord Chocolate" was buried. It is on the Great Plaza.
Foot of Temple I in the Great Plaza

Foot of Temple I in the Great Plaza


Me on left - waist bag and hat

Me on left - waist bag and hat

c167b710-f06e-11ea-837f-815c82b08dc1.JPGMain plaza

Main plaza

c38a21e0-f06e-11ea-ba8c-9dc31339cd5b.JPGc3a91b90-f06e-11ea-ba8c-9dc31339cd5b.JPG791688-Temple_2_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgMy photo left and Bob's picture of Temple II

My photo left and Bob's picture of Temple II

Bird nests near Pyramid I and II

Bird nests near Pyramid I and II

large_791911-Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpglarge_791916-Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgLooking down into area between Temple I and II

Looking down into area between Temple I and II

Coati Mundi

Coati Mundi

c28a8c30-f06e-11ea-ba8c-9dc31339cd5b.JPGCoati mundi

Coati mundi


We walked through the park from about 10 am to 2 pm (with a stop at noon for lunch), getting information from Walter on the various structures and Mayan culture and religion.

In my opinion, it's false economy to try to do Tikal without at least a half day guided tour. Walter was excellent - he not only knew the information about all the various temples and sites and could interpret the writings and calendar, but he had a notebook with the location of various artifacts which were in museums around the world.
Mayan writings under protective shed

Mayan writings under protective shed


Also he could figure out how to avoid other tour groups in the area so that we could see the details of the temples without pushing our way through all the hordes of other folks.
Walter pointing out something

Walter pointing out something

Walter would stop to allow people to climb various pyramids and take pictures, and he would also pause and allow me to catch up so I could hear the information he was giving.
791929-More_Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgBack of a temple and front of another

Back of a temple and front of another

c21227e0-f06e-11ea-ba8c-9dc31339cd5b.JPGlarge_791691-More_Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpg791930-More_Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgMan on tour - others climbing

Man on tour - others climbing

large_791931-More_Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgTemple detail

Temple detail

791928-More_Temples_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgStairs for Climbing Temple IV

Stairs for Climbing Temple IV

Temple above the trees

Temple above the trees


I did almost everything except climb the building on the south side of the main plaza. We tipped him, and he was worth it.

I took a lot of pictures at Tikal, but my camera batteries were dying. So the pictures I managed to take are often out of focus. My husband's camera is a completely un-automated type of point and shoot - no exposure settings, no distance settings, and no battery. Loaded by hand and wound forward by hand. So while his shots were in focus, they were often underexposed in the dense shade of the forest.
Too dark for pictures

Too dark for pictures


After lunch we walked back to the bus and the tour dropped us off at the Jaguar Inn which was where we were supposed to spend two nights. Two other folks from the tour also stayed behind at the Jungle Lodge

There are three places to stay right in the park where you can get up and go out early in the morning when it is cool, or to see the sunset. They are the Tikal Inn, the Jungle Lodge, and the Jaguar Inn. When I phoned from Belize, the man said they did not have a room with a private bath for the 11th. I didn't realize that he would interpret that as - no room at all. So when we arrived on the 11th, the Jaguar Inn said they had no room They said they had no knowledge that anyone had talked to me on Tuesday. There are no phones at Tikal and the hotel reservations are forwarded from Flores by radio.

BUT mail service is so bad that the travel agent sent the payment with us in a check (two nights for two people with a private bath was $96). I refused to give them the check for either night unless they found me a place to stay. So they phoned over to the Tikal Inn (which was a nicer place and more expensive). The Jungle Lodge and the Tikal Inn are comparable in price. I think their price for a double in 1998 was a little over $50.00

They finally decided that we should stay at the Tikal Inn tonight (for $6.00 extra) and stay at the Jaguar Inn tomorrow. The man from the desk carried my suitcases my suitcases over. I talked to him about a taxi to Flores on the 13th. He said that a taxi will cost $30 to the airport for the two of us.

Our room at the Tikal Inn had a double and 2 twin beds. There is no electricity during the day.
Room looking out to pool - Tikal Inn

Room looking out to pool - Tikal Inn


There is no chair in the room, but there is some hot water. I wanted to swim in the pool, but the water was too low.

After we dropped our bags, we went up to try to find the museum, but by the time we figured out which one it was, it was closed. We walked over to the Jungle Lodge and there was no one there who spoke English. A German couple who wanted to cash a $50 Traveler's check was told that the exchange rate was 6 quetzals (we got 5.8 at the border), but that for TC's it was 5/quetzals.
Front of the Tikal Inn

Front of the Tikal Inn


We walked back to the hotel. On the way I saw a hummingbird on a banana blossom. They were filling the pool -they had a water truck there.
Water tanker filling pool

Water tanker filling pool

Hole in the ground near the Tikal Inn

Hole in the ground near the Tikal Inn


After it finished, I had a swim.
Tikal Inn pool and cabin

Tikal Inn pool and cabin


The pool dropped off suddenly - it was standing depth and then it was over 6 feet. Then I had a shower. Bob came in from where he was sitting in one of the chairs around the pool (he was watching me swim so I didn't drown) because of mosquitos. We went over to the lounge. There was a tour group of 12 there -had a leader and a bird expert as part of the group.

Set price meals can be included in the cost of the room. You do have to make reservations in advance. Dinner is 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., and a set menu means that there are no choices. The food was excellent - tomato-squash soup, stewed chicken, green beans, pickled julienne beets, potatoes, flour tortillas, hot tea, and flan for dessert. All very good for $20 US for two

Expenses in US$
unknown - tour from Belize and lunch
$5.00 Tip for Walter
$6.00 Tikal Inn plus $48.00 from the check we had
$20.00 dinner
$31.00 Total in US$

Thursday 12 March 1998

We didn't get out as early as I wanted. We saw some oscillated turkeys in the parking lot as we left.
19480271791859-Turkeys_in_th..onal_Tikal.jpgIn the parking lot

In the parking lot

An Oscillated Turkey

An Oscillated Turkey

Tikal Turkeys with local women in background

Tikal Turkeys with local women in background


We went to Temple IV which is a remote end that was too far away for the quick tour
Map

Map

Walking to Temple IV

Walking to Temple IV

792211-Forest_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgForest

Forest

Temple IV

Temple IV


and saw monkeys in the trees and playing on the temple. and a pileated woodpecker.
What happens when camera battery dies

What happens when camera battery dies


My camera stopped working altogether. (Bob's still worked of course because they don't have batteries)
Water trough for wild animals

Water trough for wild animals

Army Ants

Army Ants


Walked back and saw group G, aka the Acanaladuras Palace. We saw a small animal like a guinea pig.
large_19980312-170096998_12.JPGlarge_19980312-111996996_29.JPGn19980312-111796996_27.JPGOne of the plazas

One of the plazas


The Visitor's Center has some interpretive displays on the park (free but not very in depth), and a large area with a Guatemalan craft exhibit. Native crafts are on display for sale. There are many woven craft goods such as place mats, table cloths, and clothing. These are produced locally. There are also souvenir type items such as key chains. You can bargain - it is expected.
displayed wares and map of the grounds

displayed wares and map of the grounds


It was a good cheap place to eat breakfast after we'd been into the park for the sunrise, and after breakfast,
Breakfast area

Breakfast area


I bought some trinkets. I also got a very expensive camera battery.

There is a small museum on the walkway to the ruins, on the right (the sign says "Ceramics Museum (Museo Ceramica)," the official name is the Museo Sylvanus G. Morley), There is a small entrance fee (it was 10 queztals each when we were there) and almost all the explanations of the objects in the museum are in Spanish, although there are some English translations. Not many people have time to go to this museum, but it is very interesting.

It is called the Ceramics Museum because it is filled with ceramics and artifacts excavated from Tikal. The Travel for Kids website says: "Check out the three long-nosed pale turquoise rain gods, the little figure of the "Old God" from the tomb of "First Crocodile," holding a human head in his hands, an incense burner (the Maya god is wearing an owl headdress), a platter decorated with a flapping fish, a little jade sleeping jaguar."

The picture shows a re-creation of the tomb of Hasaw Chan K'awil , formerly called "Lord Chocolate," showing how the skeleton was discovered, surrounded with jade beads, pearls, ceramics and shells. It was inside a case with a window.
Recreation of tomb

Recreation of tomb

We walked back and checked out of the Tikal Inn
Black Buzzard on the Tikal Inn roof

Black Buzzard on the Tikal Inn roof


and took our luggage over to the Jaguar Inn and left it there. I saw the man I had talked to on the phone. Went and bought gifts for the kids and had lunch and went back to the room and had a nap.

The Jaguar Inn has no pool. They have electricity only from 6 p.m.to 9 p.m. There was a private bath, but no windows in the bathroom so you couldn't see without electricity. Take your shower before the lights go out. We didn't find that there was any hot water. We had twin beds, and there was a bedside table on which were two candles, and a water jug and glasses. There is no place to hang stuff except bathroom. This is another place where you put the toilet paper in trash. The bed covers had tigers on them and at night, it is cool enough to need them.

I talked to one of the men at the Inn named Gilbert. The nearest airport to Tikal is in Flores. We had a voucher for a flight from there to Belize City so we could catch our flight back to the states. We needed to be at the airport by 8, so he said he would pick us up at 6:45. I gave him a Traveler's check for $20 in advance, but I didn't sign it because I thought he would have to bring it back with him to get it countersigned and that would ensure that he would actually show up.
Temple above the trees

Temple above the trees


Back of temple

Back of temple

Front of a temple

Front of a temple


We went back out to the ruins about 4. Arrived at the main plaza about 4:45. It is somewhat cloudy We sat at the bottom of temple II. Every time someone came down the steps the temple rang - like a musical note. There is no mention of this in the guidebooks. Saw lots of green parrots and birds with yellow eyes and tails.
Birds in the trees

Birds in the trees


All very noisy. They probably seemed noisier because the acoustics are so good. We could hear people talking at the top of the pyramid. We saw swallows, a big crested bird and a coati mundi (with a collar), a fox and a little paca type animal. There was a very slight brightening at sunset, but it was too cloudy for much more. I MAY have caught a glimpse of the moon.

When I got my photos back, this was what the sunset looked like to my camera.
Sunset over Temple II

Sunset over Temple II


The guards cleared us out at 6:45. After we left the temple area, it was VERY dark. I had my dive light which worked well, but I scared myself with the shadows. We got to the entrance about 7:30.

Comedor, in Spanish, is the dining room but it also has the meaning of an eatery, or small working class restaurant. Several of these Comedors are on the Tikal grounds. We had dinner at Comedor Tikal. The menu was in Spanish of course. We had fried chicken, french fries and rice and a drink, plus a liter of water. The food was hot and somewhat greasy. There were no refills on the tea.
Bob trying to adjust the curtains

Bob trying to adjust the curtains


We went back to the Inn and packed. The lights went out about 9:15 just about the time I finished. I inventoried the film. I think we have 27 rolls. The battery I bought appears to be giving out already. Apparently, it wasn't a fresh battery because it only lasted for a few shots.

Expenses - in US $
$6.72 Breakfast incl tip 39Q
9.00 battery
11.20 Gifts 65Q
9.26 lunch incl tip 53.75Q
3.45 Museum 20Q
79.00 shopping
13.62 Dinner including water and tip 79Q
(Jaguar Inn $48 from the check)
$132.45 Total in US$

Friday 13 March 1998

I slept fairly well. Bob was up at 4:45. I got up at 6. There was no hot water or electricity, so I didn't shower. Got dressed. I ate two pieces of bread. Gilbert came and we left for airport. He doesn't seem to have the TC for me to sign.
Receipt from Gilbert

Receipt from Gilbert


(I found out when I called American Express that they would cash Travelers Checks whether countersigned or not unless I reported them stolen first.) We made good time to the airport and got there At 7:40. We paid him an additional 70 quezels

He took us to Maya World Counter but it was Maya/Island AIr that we have vouchers for. There was no one at Maya/Island Air counter which was less impressive than the average science fair exhibit. The Tropic Air people said for us to go to AeroVeijus. It was difficult to find anyone who spoke enough English to figure out what our problem was and how to solve it. Eventually after several false starts, I tracked down a lively lady in a bright yellow dress. She took our voucher and had a long phone conversation. Then she took us back to Tropic and they put tags on the bags. She said to go up at 8:30. I went up at 8:20 and they said "No room" and gave us back our bags. We went back to AV. They took the bags and tagged them with Island Air tags. They still had "No room".

The lady in yellow came back and said she needed our passports and $20 for the exit tax. She went away and came back with boarding passes and put a stamp in our passports, that we had paid the tax and gave us exit papers to fill out. She had found out that the flight we were supposed to go on was oversold, and also overweight (these were small planes that took between 5 and 7 passengers). She apparently bullied the people on another airline who were taking the excess luggage from the first airline into taking us and our luggage too
de4ef340-f099-11ea-a5f8-3767f311993d.JPGExit tax payment

Exit tax payment


So we went to the waiting lounge (there was a metal detector which was not working), and I obtained the Belize customs documents I needed by looking at what other people had. We were supposed to go to gate 4 but actually went to gate 3 and walked out to plane. I don't know where our luggage was. The Maya World plane took off first. Others appeared to be in two tiny Maya/Island Air planes. Our plane looked like a former military paratrooper plane, with cargo nets, and the window was somewhat blurry to look out of because the engine was spraying a bit of oil. There were many empty seats They offered us a choice of champagne OJ, water, Pepsi or coffee and we got a cookie.
Road from the air

Road from the air


Our flight didn't appear to take us over Tikal although I saw the lakes
Lago Petén Itzá

Lago Petén Itzá

791952-From_plane_Parque_Nacional_Tikal.jpgLooking down at lake

Looking down at lake


.

When we arrived at the Belize International airport, we got our baggage right away and quickly went through immigration. Then we stood in line half an hour waiting for the American counter to open. Because we were in transit, we paid 5BZ$ instead of 30BZ$ as an exit tax. (We had paid 30BZ$ at the Guatemalan border.) We checked our bags and went upstairs to lounge, and had a drink (tea/soda) and banana cake.
Exit (not red)

Exit (not red)

Black fire extinguisher

Black fire extinguisher


I took photos of the FE's. Not all FE are red.
Fire extinguisher

Fire extinguisher


There was one with instructions behind it

  • 1 - shout for help
  • 2- pull alarm
  • 3- call fire dept
  • 4- fight fire if feasible)

Then I went down and bought 6 postcards to send kids, Mother and Blondie (our neighbor across the street) and stamped addressed and mailed them. We went through the departure area. Bought pen with a soccer ball kicker inside for our grandson and a small change purse for our granddaughter. Then I added up the shopping for US Customs.

Our ticket says on it "Please reconfirm flights prior to departure"

Our plane arrived on time and got off on time.
FLT 2104 lv BZE 225P lunch Arrive Miami 521 -non-stop 727 stretch

We had a good lunch. There were 3 girls that we think were airline employees that were on the plane with us from Belize (which was half empty). There was a brunette (who was nice looking) and two suicide blondes - with short skirts, big hair and leathery tanned skins. (Bob called them "the bimbos"). They had their photo taken in the Belize airport by a baggage handler and on the airplane by the stewardess.
1998-0313-143690941_10.JPGLeaving Belize

Leaving Belize


We arrived in Miami a little early and it took no time to go through customs (not many people flying on Friday the 13th).
We found gate (E24) OK and the gate was NOT changed. However the printer at the gate did not work.
FLT 1880 LV Miami 735 p Arrive BWI 1011P non-stop 727 stretch
When we got back to Baltimore, we called our local cab and he picked us up at departures - cheaper than using an airport cab.

Expenses in US$
$32.00 Taxi to Flores airport -20$ /70Q-
40.00 exit tax Guatemala
7.90 postcards and stamps
5.00 Belize exit tax
1.00 Sandwich
6.75 Banana bread and drinks $13.50BZ
8.00 Miami airport - turkey swiss sub, bagel with cream cheese and cup yoghurt
10.00 Taxi home
470.00 Plane tickets home.
$580.65 in US$

I asked the insurance company whether they would have paid for a flight home if our lady had not managed to get us back to Belize City, and they said that they would not because the flight was not canceled.

Total Assessment of Expenses. The trip cost $2712.67 for 15 days (about $181.00/day for the two of us) and I spent in addition $173.20 gifts and postcards

Breakdown of expenses

Belize transfer services $750.00 for 15 coupons plus $6.00 for the Tikal Inn
1 Ignacio's huts 2 nights
2 Driftwood Dive shop snorkeling trip
3 Dinner at Roques
4 Dive with Belize Diving
5 Hol Chan snorkeling
6 Rubies for 3 nights $2.50 tip
7 three dives with George $2.50 tip
8 Plane to Belize City
9 Tradewinds 3 nights
10 Dive with Brian
11 Clarissa Falls 3 nights plus 3 breakfasts and one dinner $2.55 tip
12 Tour to Tikal $5.00 tip
13 Jaguar Inn - 2 nights $96 plus $6.00 for the Tikal Inn
14 Plane from Flores to Belize City
$756.00
plus $21.95 telephone to check on reservations

$337.00 insurance
$940.00 two airplane tickets RT to Belize
$42.00 plane tickets to Caye Caulker
$52.00 taxi to and from BWI and to Flores
$227.91 car rental
$59.60 gas (hi test) and tire repair
$422.71 food and drink Average $28/day
$48.50 map, ointment, battery and Jaguar book
$129.45 admission fees, exit taxes etc.

In May we bought a boat like the ones that we chartered in 1997.

Next, I do some diving and Bob gets certified in Cozumel

Posted by greatgrandmaR 12:31 Archived in Guatemala Tagged temple tikal batteries coati_mundi Comments (8)

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