Mar 2 – Got up early this morning for the 90 minute ride to Tikal, the huge site of Mayan ruins in the rainforest that was discovered in the 1840s, and is still in the very early stages of being uncovered and restored – about 15% uncovered since work began in the 1950s.
The place was originally called Yax Mutal (Yosh Moo-TALL) by the folks who lived here, and pottery uncovered dates back to 1000 BCE. There is no waterway, so the complex includes 10 huge reservoirs to collect rainwater during the rainy season and distribute it to grow crops and sustain the 90,000 people who once lived here. By 900 CE, they were all gone, probable victims of drought and warfare.
Here is what a pyramid looks like before the archeologists start digging:
Here’s one in the process of being uncovered:
Our guide Luis shared his passion for the history of Yax Mutal with us. If he looks familiar, it’s because he appeared on Survivor: Guatemala – The Maya Empire, when an episode was shot near Tikal. I’ll have to look for the episode when I get home.
The howler monkeys made a huge racket up in the trees – if you didn’t know better you would swear it was the roar of a T Rex!
We also saw spider monkeys and a coatimundi.
The temples are laid out so they line up with the sun on the equinoxes and solstices. Very mathematically precise.
Below is the latest building uncovered. See how the stone is still white on the bottom where it’s just been exposed?
These are the altars and stiles thought to have been used for sacrifices. They are arranged in groups of nine.
From the top of Perdido Mundo (the lost world), you have a 360 degree view of other temples in the distance.
A face has been uncovered at the Temple of Masks. Can you see it?
Another carving – not sure what it represents:We befriended Sue from Bristol UK, who climbed up and down the pyramids with us.
Fascinating, very hot 🥵 , experience of a lifetime!