May 19, 2003 No Comments
Let's just say that I stink more now than I have in a very long time. Think about trekking for 5-days into the Guatemalan jungle in 80 degree heat and high humidity with no source of running water to wash yourself and we will see how you feel. But aside from that this has been one of the highlights of the entire trip.
In my group were 3 Italians (Massimo, Giovanni & Sonia) and our guide.
A little bit about what happened:
Day 1: We left Flores on a 2-hour drive north to the town of Carmelita. From here we began our 70 kilometer hike (about 44 miles) -- this is roundtrip. After 5-hours we arrived at the first camp of Nacimiento. We spent the rest of the day here. It was a rustic camp with only your basic necessities. Your bathroom were the bushes and your shower was the very questionable river. I laid down into my hammock and fell asleep, missing dinner entirely.... but that's OK.
Day 2: Interesting enough, around midnight I woke up and noticed that it was pitch black out, when I went to bed there was a full moon. After 10-minutes I looked up again and noticed that it was a lunar eclipse happening. You could also see a meteor shower, it was great. We got up around 5 am and had breakfast which would turn out to be a routine of tortillas, bread, frijoles, and hot water... we left camp at 5 and headed out towards El Mirador. I knew the route was going to be long and difficult but I didn't realize itw as going to take us over 8 hours of climbing over trees, up many hills and through such humid weather... but we made it to El Mirador at about 13:30... Once there we just settled in and made camp, had lunch (another deliciously bland series of tortillas, frijoles, and that's about it).. Around 17:00 we hiked to the temple of El Tigre and made the long ascent up to the top. One would never know that it was a temple that you were climbing until you come to the base of the 3rd level of the structure and actually see building materials & stone blocks. El Tigre is said to be the largest structure to be discovered in the world, according to national geographic. From atop the pyramid we watched the sun set. It was absolutely GORGEOUS. Even though you climb to the top via narrow set of steps, which being 18 stories makes you out of breath, I think I was more out of breath from the sunset than from anything else. We couldn't spend too much time at the top because once the sun went down it because quite dangerous to climb down the pyramid.
Day 3: This day we spent exploring the site of El Mirador... it is a very impressive set of ruins. These ruins show what it must have been like when people first found them. As we were walking around I sort of felt like I was Indiana Jones, who happens to be my hero, but looking at the temples which had succumbed to the power of the jungle, with trees growing through every possible crack and covered in dirt. Very beautiful none-the-less. We climbed to the top of all 3 of the majore temples, El Tigre (the tiger), La Danta (the tapir), and El Mono (the monkey). From the top of El Mono we could see what we had heard most of the day and night -- howler monkeys... And so what named the temple. Up close and personal as they were sitting and monkeying around in the trees around the complex...after 4 hours of exploring the ruins we headed back to camp and got to talk with an archaeologist from the University of Guatemala, who is the second most important person working on the site, the first being Dr. Richarde Hansen, who has been working to get the area turned into a National Park with government protection. Because as it stands now the area has been 60% deforested. We also got to see & hold some very beautiful Mayan pottery pieces that they had excavated over the past few days... what a unique experience. usually you only get to see things like this in museums. they were impressive and very beautiful.
Day 4 and 5: were uneventful as we began our journey back to civilization.
Today we arrived back to Flores at about 12 pm and i got ready for my flight. First thing on the agenda was getting into clean clothes (fortunately the owner of the tour agency I went with has a shower in the office) and then to the airport. The flight was uneventful, as I arrived in Guatemala City about 40 minutes after take off. The most interesting thing was the plane was a small jetstream 31 and as we were landing you could feel the plane trying to make its way off the runway, almost as if it was out of control, though they were in control the entire time. interesting. another interesting thing is that the end of the runway starts on a very small hill so as you are landing you are going down a bit of a hill....
Currently I am in Antigua, which is about an hours drive from Guatemala City. Tomorrow I will try and make it to Lake Atitlan or maybe just stay here in Antigua and then on Wednesday I will begin to make my way back in Nicaragua. Will probably make a quick stop in Copan before getting to San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa and finally to Managua where I will catch my flight back home.