Friday, March 10, 2006

The day I raced Scott to the top of a temple.

I'm writing this up from notes more than fully formulated sentences and paragraphs. Sorry for its lack of structure.

To wrap up Thursday evening, I did get to eat my tepescuintle after all. After Scott woke up from his nap, we explored the hotel lawn, examined the banana trees, and did some stretching and yoga. We ate dinner at Restaurant Cahui (cahui is Mayan for haunted!) down the road. We ate outdoors, overlooking the lake. We were the only patrons. Completely peaceful.

Up at 4:30, on the 5:30 bus to Tikal. An early arrival means you have a better chance of seeing neat birds and animals. We arranged a small tour group - just the two of us, a 21-year-old Israeli woman and our guide Josue. We left at 7 and saw an anteater right off the bat. Josue said he only sees one or two each year, so this was a treat. Other things - a tiny frog, a tiny lizard, a couple ant freeways (very cool), a blue-headed parrot, some toucans, neat yellow-tailed birds, and some sort of white jays. And more monkeys! Both spider monkeys and howler monkeys, which sound like jaguars.

The Mayan ruins were pretty spectacular. We saw (and climbed!) temples and pyramids and palaces. Wish I could upload some of my photos right now! We learned about stellae (carved upright slabs) and altars (for human and other sacrifices, like incense, jade, cacao seeds, and human blood). Cool trees, like the ceibal, which symbolizes the Mayan world view: the branches are the heavens, the trunk is this world, and the roots are the underworld. Huge and beautiful. And there was the copol tree, whose sap is used to make incense as well as to treat rheumatism. The sap from the chicle tree is harvested as a chewing gum ingredient. There was the bread nut tree, more palms, papayas... stuff you don't find in Minnesota. Our tour ended around 11, so we took a breather in the Gran Plaza and had lunch. (A funny thing - the egg salad sandwiches we bought were really fried egg sandwiches with 'salad' - lettuce and tomatoes.) We wandered through a few more sites and caught the 2 pm bus back to the hotel for another much-needed siesta. Around 5 we walked down the road to a little dock for a dip in the lake. Blue green water, perfect temperature. We got to watch a beautiful sunset.

Now we're just finishing up dinner. Nothing as exotic s tepezcuintle, but the piƱa colada and margarita were excellent, as was the jungle tea. It's sort of spicy like chai. I got to eat a new vegetable, the wisquil, which is like a big zucchini. Again, we're dining outdoors overlooking the lake. Lots of crickets and frogs to be heard.

1 comment:

Larry Beethoven said...

Congrats on the Anteater! I didn't see any while I was Guatamala and have yet to find one here in Prague, although they could be buried under all this snow. Now you know where Chiclets come from. Did you see any coatis? Eat any?