Sunday, April 30, 2017

Day 2: Tikal, Guatemala

     Today we started off with a scenic drive to Guatemala to visit Tikal National Park. When we arrived at the Guatemalan border we went through immigration and then received our Guatemalan stamp for our passport. After we reached the other side we met up with our tour guides for the rest of our trip, Noel and Reggie. They talked with us about the history of Tikal National Park. We learned about Guatemala's national tree, the Ceiba Tree, it towers over all the trees in the rainforest making it one of the largest trees in the park. We talked about the exchange rate for Guatemala, 1 U.S. dollar is equal to 7 Quetzals. After learning about the history of Tikal National Park we had arrived at our destination. We started our hike to our first stop, the map of Tikal National Park. After we looked at the map we set off to see our first temple. As we were walking through the park, our tour guides pointed out different things for us to look at. We looked at a "gum" tree, where company's who made bubble gum would collect the sap from the tree to create their candy. There were several spider monkeys in the trees as we walked through the park. They would swing from tree to tree and then sit on a branch and watch the tourists as we walked past. After visiting the temples in the courtyard we headed towards the main plaza. The main plaza is where the Mayans celebrated their religious ceremonies. There are three main temples in the plaza, they constructed the plaza in a way where it makes your voice echo throughout, making it easy to hear from the top or bottom of the temple. In the main plaza, there is Temple III, where Mayan priests were the only people allowed on top of the temple. There are 106 steps to get from the ground to the top of the temple. After we left the plaza we headed to the last temple of the day, which is the largest temple that has been discovered in Tikal. The view from the top of this temple was featured in one of the Star Wars episodes. In all, we hiked around 12,000 steps through Tikal. Afterward , we headed to lunch at a restaurant in the National Park where we had Guatemalan fried chicken, which was delicious.

       Once we got back in the vans we headed to a little market shop to look for souvenirs for friends and family located in Guatemala. Then, we headed back to the border of Guatemala and Belize where we got both a stamp for leaving Guatemala and a stamp for returning to Belize. On our beautiful ride back to the Mayan Mountain Lodge, we were able to look at the scenery and take it all in. Once back at the Mayan Mountain Lodge, we settled down to a nice dinner and watched a performance by the Garifuna. They performed many traditional songs and dances from their culture. We were able to meet the four female dancers and three male dancers. The girls did a beautiful job dancing and singing and the guys were so talented on the drums. After their performance, they asked us to come to the stage and dance with them. We learned a couple new dance moves. After the dance, we all went back to our rooms because we have an early morning tomorrow.

**We are struggling to keep the wifi connected here, therefore pictures will be posted tomorrow.

-Kelsey Barrick (Student Leader) and Courtney Ziegler (Staff)

View of Temple from on top of Temple III

One of the largest Temples

Court Yard
Main Plaza
Howler Monkey

Ceiba Tree (National Tree of Belize)
                                                           Map of Tikal National Park

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful pictures and what wonderful tour...truly enjoying your experience