The story continues. Tikal was impressive but there was no visible sunrise due to fog which we expected anyway. We managed to relax a bit after visiting the Tikal ruins although we only returned to our rest day stopover town of Flores after midday. Flores is the main town near Tikal and has an airport for travelers to fly in specifically to see the Mayan ruins at Tikal. It was a 60km drive from Flores to Tikal and on the return journey to our hotel, I sat above the protuding back wheel of the bus which was extremely uncomfortable but better me than Dad.
We took a lot of photographs of Tikal and it is a spectacular complex of ruins with tall pyramid style buildings that you have to walk up. The main temple is temple 4 where we ascended to try and see the sunrise at 06:20am. Afterwards we walked around other pyramid shaped ruins and took photographs of the jungle surrounding Tikal. There is normally a football field at all Mayan ruins where the Mayans once played their brand of football. After these matches one of the players was sacrificed according to ritual practice. There were significant architectural, farming and daily activities taking place at Mayan citadels and this is obvious in particular once you see the extent of the ruins at Tikal. There were once 150 000 people living in Tikal but the citadel was deserted before the Spanish arrived in America in the early 1500’s.
Once upon a time agriculture took place in an 8km radius all around Tikal but there was a drought for 20 years which ultimately forced the citadel to be abandoned. All very interesting but I can tell you that we walked approximately 10km whilst at Tikal without having had breakfast until the tour ended after 10am and so we were starved cyclists by the time we got to the restaurant after the tour. One more fact, Tikal means something like “the place of sounds” in what I think is a native American language. If you clap your hands near the temples, there is a clear echo which is quite voluble. Just a pity that civilisation did not continue after the ruins were abandoned.
Today’s cycling. We cycled 109km from Flores, Guatemala, to San Ignacio, Belize in good time. In fact we almost reached the border by noon after cycling 93km. Dad and I cycled well and we didn’t experience any mechanical problems with our bicycles which makes the going a lot faster. It was goodbye to the dryer Peten region of Guatemala and welcome to the rainy Belize countryside of perennial rivers and green fields. We took our second coke stop of the day, both after lunch which was at 60km in Guatemala, in Belize mainly to take cover from the rain which started to fall once we crossed the border. At our first coke stop which was in Guatemala, not for the first time, an alcoholic pitched up at the coke stop which prompted our departure.
One thing you learn while you are on this expedition is that we are all different, some in peculiar ways, and you must try to accept people the way they are. The group of cyclists are a good bunch and I am sure to miss them once the expedition is over in two days’ time. There will no doubt be some celebration when we end the cycle at the Laminai Temple on 21 December. However we have another long ride tomorrow of over 100km and it has not yet been confirmed how long the ride will be on Doomsday, 21 December. It has most surely been a learning experience and Dad will no doubt tell you more.
I am glad to hear Mom that the concert was good. Am I right in thinking that St George’s Cathedral is at the end of Adderley Street? The St George’s Cathedral I am thinking about is a very impressive church and I have visited it myself. Looking forward to arriving in Cape Town on Christmas Day. Keep up the hard work at SANCCOB, Margaret, and I look forward to seeing you at the hacking. It’s all