Lost in the Lost World
El Mundo Perdido, Tikal, Guatemala
Oh, my aching knees.
Stairs, stairs, stairs! I am climbing the pyramid in the midst of the Lost World. This
area is a grouping of 38 structures and this pyramid, just south of the Grand Plaza at
Tikal, a collection of over a thousand buildings deep in the jungle of El Petén.
Tikal stands out in my mind compared to the other great Mayan sites because, unlike
Chichén Itzá, Uxmal and Copán, we must trek deep into the jungle to see the temples of
|So many stairs!|
I am amazed
as I ascend this face of the pyramid and imagine how the builders, who constructed it to
map the skies and study the stars in 700 BC, must have felt. At the top I catch my breath
and also catch a glimpse of Templo IV, in the distance, and the Talud-Tablero Temple, or
the Temple of the Three Rooms. When Abeja was up here, she caught up with some other
Americans: Matt, Kyle, and Rick. This is the oldest Mayan structure in Tikal, and one of
the only ones constructed solely as an astronomical tool. There are no buildings or
temples atop, only a flat plain that allows a clear view of the cloudy sky and the canopy
of dense ceiba trees and vegetation below. I hear a persistent "ka-kak-kak," one
of the calls of a parrot species, and below there are a few coatimundis nosing through
|Monica walking towards|
descend the back way, I am careful to step around the stones and small gravelly pebbles.
Each of the four different faces of the pyramid is built in a different style, but the
back face is somewhat overgrown with vegetation. Can you imagine being one of original
re-discoverers of Tikal in the 1800's? How would you have felt as one of the first
expedition members in 1848, along with Modesto Mendez and Ambrosio Tut, as you stumbled
upon this lost civilization which mysteriously collapsed around 900 AD? Or what if you
were with the first scientific exploration with Alfred P. Maudslay in 1881? The pictures
taken from a hundred years ago show all the temples literally covered with trees and
plants--you can barely see the stones beneath.
back of the pyramid at Tikal
I walk over to Templo IV, the top of which can only be reached by climbing a
series of ladders. Can one of you watch Star Wars for me, the final battle scene when the
X-wing fighters take off from the jungle area? I think, but I'm not sure, that this was
filmed right here in Tikal, at the top of Templo IV. When I climb down, the guard informs
me that one of the coatis stole my "pan tostada," small toasted bread slices. So
now I go to get my own lunch!
|View of Tikal from the Pyramid|
Monica - No Turning Back: The Journey to Guatemala
Abeja - Wondrous Tikal from Sunrise to Sunset
Monica - Searching for the Disappeared: An Introduction to
Monica | Monica's Archive