Santa Elena and Tikal

Arriving in the dark last night we didn’t really get to see the setting of our hotel but when we came down at breakfast we felt that we had been transported to the Caribbean, a very different feel here in Santa Elena.

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Massage by the lake anyone?

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View from the upper deck

After breakfast we head to the Mayan city of Tikal, about an hour drive north and not far from the border with Belize.  From the van I snapped pictures of some caution signs leading into the park, missed the monkey sign.

 So many signs, so many restrictions, at the entrance they should have had one that said . . . We hope you enjoy your visit!

Have a nice visit!

Have a nice visit!

Tikal is magnificent, a 1,800-year-old complex considered one of the most important urban centers of its time.  The expansive site is surrounded by jungle with 3,000 structures including temples, pyramids, tombs, palaces, ball courts and terraces.  The tallest temples rise above the canopy.  At its peak Tikal was home to an estimated 100,000 Maya.

With a guide we toured the main area of the park visiting the Great Plaza, Temple of the Jaguar, Tomb of the Mayan ruler Moon Double Comb, Plaza of the Seven Temples, an unusual triple ball court and El Mundo Perdido “Lost World” where 38 structures surround a central pyramid.  Awesome!

Nature will prevail

Nature will prevail

Pay attention

Pay attention

 

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The top of this temple, encased by scaffolding, had recently been damaged by a lightening strike.

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We spent nearly the entire day here, climbing a couple of the temples for dizzying 360-degree views high above the canopy.

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The jungle surrounding Tikal is home to a variety of flora and fauna, exotic flowers and birds, jaguar, wild turkeys, snakes, coati, spider monkeys and the raucous howler monkeys to name a few

Ceiba "Tree of Life"

Ceiba “Tree of Life”

Flycatchers

Howler Monkey

Howler Monkey

Toucan

Toucan

Coati

Coati

We returned to the hotel and found ourselves sitting on the deck overlooking a gorgeous sunset, enjoying a glass of wine and loving in the warm breeze; a beautiful end to another great day.

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No one was very hungry but Hector suggested a pupuseria for a light dinner and that got our attention.  He knew a family that had had a restaurant across the street from the hotel.  On inquiring he found they had moved but no problem . . . it was just a few blocks but pouring rain by this time.  A few of us were up for pupusas so we climbed into a couple of tuk tuks and headed out in the dark and the rain through back streets, totally turned around but were delivered to a home in a not so quiet neighborhood somewhere in Santa Elena.  There were a couple of tables and a grill in front of the home and a canopy covering the area.  Hector went inside to make sure this was the right place, it was.  Across the street was another home restaurant with music blaring at over 100 dB, apparently to “attract” customers.  Despite the noise we had a great time, the pupusas were superb and the beer cold, what more could you ask for

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Pupuseria

 

When we were ready to go back to the hotel Hector called for a tuk tuk to pick us up . . . oops, they stop running at 7 p.m. on Sundays.  We look at each other, the dark street and the heavy rain; we have no idea where we are and then Hector disappears into the house for a couple of minutes and returns saying no problem, the husband will be happy to take us back to the hotel in his jeep but he will have to make two trips.  The daughters bring out rugs to put in the back and we climb in the back.  The husband is very nice, speaks a little English and we enjoy his company on the ride back and learn that he had lived in Connecticut for a few years before he was married working for a landscaper.  At the hotel, we thank him for his kindness and pay him what we would have paid the tuk tuk ($1 each).  He was very gracious and we were very grateful then off he went to retrieve the other three members of our group.

 

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