Our night in the trucker’s car park was pretty peaceful. When we went to leave the boss man wanted 20Q (Queztal) for parking there. A princely sum of about £2, or NZ$4.
Before we head to Tikal, there are some matters we need to attend to, being in a new country. First we need fuel, so fill up Poki and a couple of spare jerry cans. Next stop a bank for some cash. We quickly find one with an ATM outside and it likes my card and gives us funds. We ask about wifi, but cannot get a SIM card. We also need insurance for Poki, but are told we cannot get that before the bigger town of Flores.
So, now we have fuel and cash, we can head out of town and off to Tikal. En route we stop at a hardware shop for some electrical wire. The guy who serves Dennis speaks good English. He went to school in New Jersey in the States. He has a friend who sells us a SIM card and sets up wifi for us on my phone. They also point us in the right direction to a shop selling beer.
Now we are really all set up and set off once more. We arrive at the Tikal National Park entrance. The Tikal site is a further 17 kms, but we have to buy entry tickets and tickets for camping here. It is quite a performance and requires me to produce ID.
The drive into Tikal is through thick jungle. There is a 45km speed limit with numerous signs telling us to watch out for animals. We don’t see any though.
When we arrive at Tikal we ask where the campsite is and are directed to a large, grassy area, with scattered palapas. There is one other camper van and a couple of small tents.
We are setting up when a man comes along. Pointing to his wrist he says we need a bracelet! He takes me to an office with various tables and men distributing different colour bracelets. I give the camping table guy our camping tickets and he sticks a purple bracelet around my wrist. I ask for another one for Dennis, but he refuses to give it to me, even though he has clipped both our tickets. Dennis has got to come and get it and have it put on. I say that’s ridiculous and stomp off.
Returning to Poki, we have lunch. Then we go back to the office, show our entry tickets and already clipped camping ticket. Dennis gets his purple bracelet for camping and we each also get a second yellow bracelet which allows us into the site.
Tikal covers a very large area. Pleasant to walk around, as the paths are jungle covered, so cool. Or relatively so, compared to walking in the open in the scorching sun. As we have a lot of ground to cover, we set off at a brisk walk.
The ruins are very impressive. Probably the most impressive we have seen so far. The fact they are surrounded by jungle and hidden until the last moment, making them more so.
Tikal is built on a low hill. The Maya probably built here to escape the surrounding swampy ground. Tikal was settled around 700 BC. Another reason was the abundance of flint, used for making arrow heads, spear points, knives and clubs.
There are towering, steep sided temples rising to heights of more than 44m. It is delightful to stroll through the broad causeways, originally built of packed limestone to accommodate traffic between temples.
Treading softly to spot spider monkeys and ocellated turkeys. We have heard howler monkeys, but not seen them. We read that spider monkeys are very active, but the howler monkeys are quite sedentary. All they are likely to do is defecate on your head if you walk beneath them.
We return to the campsite, hot and sweaty and I head for the showers only to find the door tightly locked. I go to the restaurant next door, where the man who made us get the bracelets, produces a key. We had been warned that the showers are locked and there are no lights. So, wanted to make use of them before dark. I hurry back and tell Dennis to go while the door is open. He hears the man trying to lock him in, so has to shout at him.
Now we have the fridge life is more civilised. After our showers we sip gin and tonics and nibble cheese and biscuits, while watching spider monkeys chasing each other in the trees above us.
Our electrics are up the creek again and this evening the lights, fan and water pump aren’t working. Fortunately we have back ups, so prepare dinner, chicken with a salad and papaya for desert. We are almost overdosing on papaya. It is plentiful and so delicious.
Another early night. Dennis will sort the electrics out in the morning.