Guatemala

– visited August 2014 –

I am on a whirlwind tour of Central America; time is short as I have to be in New York soon. But better to get a quick impression of the countries than not getting any impression at all.

I start by taking a boat on the tranquil Rio Dulce. This is both enjoyment and a way to move on. The Maya Ruins of Tikal are one of the most impressive sights I have seen in my life. One of the mayor cities in the classical Maya period (3rd to 9th century) it has six major temple-pyramids of up to 70 metres of height. It has been inscribed into UNESCO’s World Heritage list as early as 1979. Tikal has thousands of structures, many which have not been even excavated. The temples are deep inside the rainforest. You start early, in darkness at 4 A.M., to be up for sunrise on one of the temples where you can see over the treetops. Being in the rainforest has another advantage. My camera is ever ready for animal sightings. Howler monkeys, the beautiful (and not so common) spider monkeys, coatis and a fair number of birds all show up. I would have loved to stay another day.

I have some tacos at a family-run street stall in El Remate. I am hungry and need a second portion. I want the guy to put the new tacos on the same plastic plates I have already used. He looks at me like I am an alien. I repeat my wish. He looks at me like I am a super-alien, throws my plastic plates into the trash and takes new ones.