Friday’s Five Favorite Things: Tikal edition

A while back I added a new category to the blog called My Favorite Things and I wrote a post about Porto, Portugal. It got a little long-winded but I think it was pretty solid. Now though, I’m going to change up what this category is all about.

As I write posts, I always keep my eye on the word count feature and cringe as it rises. Will readers get bored? Am I going off on too many tangents? So in an effort to mix up my blog content and give a little break between lengthy posts, I’m changing the category to Friday’s Five Favorite Things: short and sweet posts about some of my favorite places.

So here I go: Tikal.

I’ve been to Tikal twice and found it to be completely awesome both times. Awesome as in not just neat but truly awe-inspiring. The Tikal ruins are some of the largest of their kind. I’m not really a history buff and no one really wants to read my regurgitation of random Wikipedia facts so I’ll point anyone who is interested in learning more to this Smithsonian article.

In no particular order, here are my favorite things about Tikal:

1. Tikal is tall

The Copan ruins may have a lot of details (yeah, there’s a dancing Jaguar) but Tikal is a monster. The chance to see something so amazing on this kind of scale doesn’t come up very often so if you get the chance, go for it… and then back up so you can get it all in the picture.

Tikal Temple, Guatemala

The pictures don’t do it justices. Don’t just look at us down below, look up top – those tiny ants are actually normal-sized people up there!

2. What lies beneath…

My first experience with Mayan ruins was at a small, mostly unexcavated site in Belize and I was hopelessly naive about the discoveries of the world. It was my assumption that if we, as humans, knew something existed, we’d done everything in our power to dig it up and learn about it. Don’t judge me too harshly, I was just a teenager.

So as we explored, our guide pointed out that all the little hills around us were simply buried temples that hadn’t been dug out yet. You could not have shocked me more had you told me they were massive ant hills.

Tikal too is home to many of these discovered yet undiscovered mounds of dirt and the mystery of what they represent is both frustrating and fascinating at the same time.

Tikal unexcavated ruins, Guatemala

I don’t have any fabulous examples of buried ruins because they mostly just look like an overgrown mounds of dirt. Also, in my former travels I didn’t anticipate that I’d constantly be scouring through ever last photo I’ve ever taken in attempts to complement an obscure blog post.

3. Baby, it’s a wild world

Howler monkeys do not make a predictable sound. If you’ve never heard one watch this video below. It’s a very big and very odd sound and is completely jarring when it happens right over your head.

Monkeys in Tikal, Guatemala

Lots of sleep machines included a rainforest setting which I think is insane. I’ve slept in a rainforest; jaguars and howler monkeys outside and cackling geckos inside do not make for a good night’s sleep.

4. Photo-op here, photo-op there, photo-ops are everywhere

No explanation needed. Great places produce great photos.

Big tree in Tikal, Guatemala

Our friends Sam and Courtney… and a really big tree.

Tikal temple entrance, Guatemala

Even predictable stand-and-smile photos look cool with that kind of backdrop. Also, moments after this photo was taken, tons of bats shot out of that cave. Had that been capture on camera, it would have been anything but predictable.

Girls in Tikal

It really puts things in perspective, right?

5. It’s not in America, the land of the litigious and the home of the frivolous lawsuit.

Okay, so Tikal is technically in the Americas, but you get the joke. Litigious folks who ruin the fun of the rest of us don’t have a leg to stand if they’re standing in another country. I can’t speak for the whole world, but I can speak for every country I’ve ever been to besides the US when I say that awesome places presented without the fear of lawsuits are a lot more fun to explore and with common sense, they can still be (somewhat) safe.

Sam and Courtney in Tkal

Here are our good friends Sam and Courtney. Notice how we are far above the rainforest canopy. Also, this isn’t one of those deceiving photos where a safety fence is just out of sight… it’s quite literally a very steep, treacherous fall down from where they are. ¡Cuidado!

And because I ended the Porto post with a little touch of telling-it-how-it-is truth. Here’s one thing about Tikal that was a little less than perfect…

6. The scary stairs

Tikal tower stairs

These stairs (which is really more like a ladder) would maybe be fine if you were alone. They are not, however, fine when you are directly underneath a very large man who isn’t paying much attention and seems to have very poor balance.

All in all, I give Tikal a must-see seal of approval. A tour is well-worth the price so you will know what you’re looking at. Plan either toting a lot of water around or buying over-priced water inside the park.

Here are a few more pictures…

Tikal hole.

Here we are in a hole. I don’t remember why but it’s still kind of cute.

Star Wars Tikal Scene

Star Wars fans will recognize this scene.

3 responses to “Friday’s Five Favorite Things: Tikal edition

  1. Love it! You’re right about jungle sounds. . . the real thing is not something that would lull you to sleep!
    Tikal gets 2 thumbs up from me 🙂

  2. Pingback: See Jules Review: Zip-lining in Guatapé aka extreme(ish) adventures for the rest of us | See Jules Travel·

  3. Pingback: I assign new meaning to an annual girl’s trip | Worldwide Shambles·

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