September 11, 2009

Tikal with five kids

On Tuesday, September 8, 2009, we went to Tikal. We spent the night in Flores, a small town that sits on an island in a lake. The island is almost connected to the mainland, and a bridge covers the remaining few meters.

At 9am, my husband, Nando, my brother, Ian, and our five kids, ranging in age from 5 to 8, piled into the mini-van to head to Tikal. The drive through the rainforest and hills was gorgeous, and we entered the park at about 11:00am. The drive from Flores is only 62 km, but there are portions where you have to drive slowly. Plus, we had to pay the entrance fee and get ourselves situated once we got out of the car.

Once inside the park, we walked about 30 minutes to get to the Gran Plaza. The Gran Plaza has two gigantic pyramids, in addition to other, smaller structures. It was a clear day, and it was amazing to see these architectural wonders set against a blue sky and the bright green grass.

After exploring around Gran Plaza for a while, we headed off to see other parts of the ruins. The ruins are massive, so we had to decide which ones we would see. We chose two of the closest ones – Siete Templos and el Mundo Perdido. Those were smaller than the Gran Plaza, but also quite interesting.

Going to Tikal with three eight-year olds and two six-year olds, we weren’t sure how the kids would do. However, the kids were pretty interested in the ruins, especially in running up the stairs to see from the top. They also found fascinating the idea that people lived here over 2,000 years ago. However, their favorite part was the animals.

We were lucky to see two toucans, near the Mundo Perdido. We were able to watch them for a bit before they took off. We also saw quite a few monkeys and a viscote. A viscote is a small animal that looks like an anteater. Tatiana told me her favorite part was seeing the viscote, probably because we saw it quite close up, while the monkeys and the toucans were high up in the trees.
Overall, Tikal involved quite a bit of walking, but everyone held up pretty well. We let the kids rest when they wanted to, and were not very ambitious in terms of seeing all of the ruins. We left the park around 3:30pm, and made our way out of Tikal.

We had gone to Tikal via Rio Dulce, yet decided to go back via Sayaxche and Coban. The kids were pretty exhausted after Tikal, so we were able to drive pretty much directly to Sayaxche. Still, we didn’t make it to Sayaxche until sundown, which is around 6:30pm in Guatemala this time of the year.

Sayaxche is one a river, and you have to cross it to get to the town. As the kids were impatient, we took the small boat over, while Ian and Dante waited for the ferry. Once across the river, we checked out a couple of hotels, and chose el Guayacan, a hotel right on the river. We were tired enough that the quality of the hotel was practically irrelevant.

Before we were able to rest our heads, however, we ventured out to get something to eat. We found a place that served Mexican tacos, and were able to fill up. There was a fiesta going on in the town, but I was too tired to check it out. Nando and Ian went, but it was over pretty quickly after they left.

The next morning, we had one adventure after the next. From Sayaxche, we were off to Coban.

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