It is just a matter of closing one’s eyes in silence; in Tikal National Park, a place brimming with mysticism, the voices of the Mayan rulers can be heard as if chatting among the mahoganies, cinnamon trees, Ceibas trees that fill the area with numerous hues of color.
Before opening your eyes again, just breathe deeply in and imagine what this city looked like from the 8th century BC up to the 9th century A.D., 1,500 years of Mayan rule contributed to a high level of development en culture, the arts, architecture, Urbanism, mathematics, astronomy, agriculture and commerce. Even though this land has been plagued many times by nature, it has been wonderfully compensated: the luxuriant vegetation of its vast subtropical forest covered and preserved the magnificent buildings of stone and stucco.
There is growing interest worldwide in the Mayan Culture; in Petén, the largest province in Guatemala, is located the most important city-state that this civilization ever had. The discovery of Tikal by the Spanish friar Andrés de Avendaño dates to 1696, and it was Sylvanus Morley, who named it Tikal, which means “place of voices” in the language of the Itza people. Scores of historical facts are hidden in Tikal; that is why it is convenient to tour the place with the assistance of a guide.
A free rein to emotions, unwritten recommendations for to touring the park are to be followed, such as wearing comfortable shoes because it will be a several-hour walks with some ascents. A good quantity of fresh water should be included (it will never be enough, though). Tourists should be ready for amazement at every bend, and most important of all, emotions should by no means be suppressed. These details now clear, let’s start our journey.
The paths are well delimited. It is only a question of making up one’s mind as to where to start from. A good possibility is to start with Q Complex, to the east of R Complex built in 771 A.D. by the ruler Chitam. Here both Stele 22 and Altar 10 are located.
The journey goes on for half an hour, suddenly, a bulky stone structure gets in the visitor can appreciate it entirely. It is Temple IV-the temple of Bicephalous Serpent-built in 470 A.D. by the Yaxkin Caan Chac Dynasty; it is 65b meters tall and is the highest in Tikal. Its wooden stairway invites the tourist to climb and conquer the temple. And hundred steps further up, we come across the cresting base.
Although we are, panting and our legs are trembling, our eyes cannot believe that what lies before them is real. The first gasp of delight is broken by the lack of air. Our breath back,
we start to explore the scenery, the high all-year-round temperature of this region.
At forty meters from the ground, the trees which used to form a natural roof for our journey look like small bushes with different tints of green. In their treetops, some spider monkeys play indifferent to all the mysticism that surrounds them. From this viewpoint the tourist can see the Lost World, Temple V, and further beyond the Acropolis, the temple of Great Jaguar and the temple of the Mask. There is a desire for perpetuation in the pyramid in the same way as the Mayan rulers did, but we have to descend in order to continue with the journey.
The great square, just like in every Mayan city, there is a great square that used to be the heart of the city life. On one side there is a group of ceremonial buildings called Northern Acropolis; it was also a mausoleum for the year 292 B.C. and it is the oldest. It consists of nine temples, the most important of which being the one of Señora Ocho Guacamayas (Eight Macaws Lady).
To the south and strongly contrasting with the ceremonial aspect, there is another group of palace-like building called Central Acropolis, for residential and administrative purposes.
The eastern area is occupied by Temple 1, or Temple of the Great Jaguar (Ah Cacao) -it was here where Tomb 165 and the jade-bits Tikal mask were found-and a tiny ball game field. To the west, there is Temple I or Temple of the Mask (YaxkinCaanChac).
By 6 p.m. there is something like a pilgrimage to the Lost World, the oldest construction in the place, used for mathematics calculus’s. Also known as the Temple of the Large Masks, it is 36 meters high and faces the temple of the Zoo. The disk should be admired from the summit. The sun sits shyly in the horizon. Offering a majestic sight, as if presenting the lucky onlookers with an amazing palette of oranges and reds.
The shrieks of the spider monkeys break the prevailing silence and peace. The apes seem to be telling us that this is their territory, not ours. Colorful toucans skip from tree to tree, which start to lose their brightness due to the absent sun, whose whims cause an early departure, thus marking the end of the day.
At the base of the pyramid a guide warns us that the Park is about to close and that there is no time left. The Mayan spirits have shared an unforgettable stroll with the tourists-at least for a few hours.
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