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Admiring Tikal & Flores

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We could hear them well before we saw them. Howling sound or more like a roar, like a Jaguar might make, well I’m only guessing what a jaguar might sound like. It was the kind of sound, that if you heard it in the middle of the night, you’d walk the other way even if you knew it was just a howler monkey.

The day had started early, I woke at 4:15am to catch the bus at half past four. I really should had stayed in Tikal instead of Flores; I could had slept a few extra hours, but it was bit too late for that. Half sleep I made my way downstairs to the bus and then slept the whole two hour bus ride.

Arriving to Tikal, it turned out that everybody else on the bus was on one tour or another, so I quietly made a vanishing trick to the parking lot, and then searched for the entrance for the next fifteen minutes.

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It was definitely worth getting up early; there was hardly anybody around yet, I could actually walk for 15 minutes without seeing another soul; making my way on the jungle covered paths, having the occasional glimpse at the mist covered ruin. Excellent.

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I finally made it to my goal, Temple IV at the very far end. After climbing the not so solid looking wooden stairs, I made it to the top. I remembered once again that the Guatemalans weren’t huge on health and safety. There were no railings of any kind at the top, but that suited me just fine, much better view of the jungle in front of me. I was a bit too late for the sunrise, but it was still impressive to watch the other temples disappear into the morning mist, only to come visible again in few minutes.

There was maybe half a dozen people up there, but among them was a Finnish couple I had met earlier in a bus to Lanquin. Figures, it’s the Finns who want to go to the furthest temple with nobody around, just so we can enjoy the the place in peace.

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After we had watched the morning mist make its away around the jungle and temples, we headed off together to explore rest of Tikal. We ran into some spiders monkeys who were crossing the road just above us. The pack was actually quite big, giving us ample time to admire them. Unfortunately it has to be said that while the 11-16mm lens I have is great for taking landscape photos, it is one of the most useless things for taking photos of wild animals.

After that we heard the howler monkeys and then later saw them high up (again no photos).

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I did however manage to catch some photos of animals on the ground level.

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The last temple we climbed was number V. The stairs were so steep that they were more like a ladder; just imagine a 50 meter high ladder. And it only got better once you got up, as the ledge was less than a meter wide with again no railing of any kind, with quite a few people trying to keep as close to the wall as possible. I actually saw someone crawling (instead of walking) on her fours up there.

After seeing most (not all) of the temples I decided to make my way back to Flores, where I ran into a slight problem. I had Q35 left in local currency (about £3). Now this needed to buy me dinner, some water, breakfast and something to eat on the bus back to Mexico the next day. No problem, found tacos for Q10 with a beer costing Q7. You can’t have tacos without a beer. Got some water from the hotel for Q4. So that still left me some Q14 for breakfast and travel snack. More than enough.

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So with plenty of money I boarded the bus going towards Mexico, managing my breakfast and snacks easily. Quite quickly as we left Flores we ran out of pavement once again, and kept going on a dirt road where it felt like the bus was about to come apart. On several occasion there were cows running on the road with our bus, this definitely wasn’t a highway.

Then we stopped at a Migration office and I found out that the money I had, actually wasn’t enough, as apparently I needed to pay another 40 Quetzales to leave the country, thankfully I managed to exchange some of my Mexican pesos (obviously with an excellent exchange rate) into Quetzales, so I was actually able to get a stamp on my passport.

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After getting our passports stamped, we drove another fifteen minutes to find a river with few boats. We got on a boat and half an hour later I planted my feet yet again firmly on the Mexican soil.

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