Rolled out of San Ignatio-town by 9:30 under unraveling fog.
Light diffused over jungle marshes. Grasses and occasional trees provided breakfast spots for skinny livestock on both sides of the frontier. Speed bumps announced tiendas or schools for the next 150 or so miles to Remate, Flores. A sharp turn off the main road leads down to Lake Petén Itzá.
I arrived at the shore before noon and checked into la Casa de Don David – a tidy understated retreat less than 45 minutes from Tikal. The family owned place supports the Tikal bound by arranging transport, preparing a lunch and even serving 5:30AM coffee. Casa DD definitely goes out of their way to take the “grim” out of pilgrimage; so, I decided to return after my visit to the park to unwind by the lake.
I had packed a 7 pound-ish backpack with stuff for overnight at the Jaguar Inn. With my sack of lunch and water, I boarded the shuttle towards Tikal in the dark. — The driver continued filling the van while everyone snoozed.
Just before sun up twenty of us fanned out scrabbling up the hill towards the Gran Plaza and the view from Temple IV. The sign pointed the way and estimated 25 minutes. The risers of the steps were sometimes 12″-15″ boards and the treads were filled gravel and sea-serpent roots and sometimes cement was over that.
Up now, on a lesser incline still under thick tree canopy – stairs peek out of moss; towers make an appearance but ensnared in eons of flora. It is hard to discern form or exuberance from these muffled lumps. But, the plaza glows with ferocious mystery. The cognoscenti were still climbing towards Temple IV. People atop Temple IV were speculating about how baby sacrifices for the Mayans would be a high honor like suicide bombers in the Mid East.
It was backing down those stairs that I realized that the pack was not only getting heavy but did not help my balance. Looking down over the
tread-ways, I kept wondering how life would have been in this city. Would people have run from alter to temple and then been carried back by native bearers for a change of clothes before the human sacrifices? Was there a life for the Artisans and was this like Greenwich Village where the rich and the artists party together?
I ate my sandwich and watched the monkeys before heading to the “Mundo Perdido.” (That sign seems oxymoronic.) I loved this area with the giant 5C-54 looking all streamlined and Art Deco and 5C-49 with horizontal frames stepping up astride the stairs. By the time I got to Temple VI with another 10 story climb my eyes were heavier than the pack. So, I headed down and napped in my hammock at the Jaguar Inn until it was time to return for the 19JAN full moon, to honor the 50th Yahrtzeit of my father.
The moon rose over Temple I’s shoulder lighting Temple II beautifully. In this clearing I could almost feel the moon and the nearness of cherished spirits.