Historic Mayan ruins meet sprawling jungle in Guatemala

The additional-large barf luggage within the tiny airplane aren’t precisely reassuring. However the 33-minute flight to Lake Peten Itza from Guatemala Metropolis is fortunately easy, and it takes you to a totally completely different world.

Away from the road distributors and exhaust clouds, you’re now excessive up north in your approach to Tikal. This Mayan break is reached through an hour’s drive by way of lush tropical inexperienced.

In Tikal, Mayan priest Gilberto Chayax is making ready a ritual on the principle sq. of the ruins. The 80-year-old priest is a guardian of the practically extinct Itza’ language. Solely 60 folks nonetheless converse it, he says. He lights a fireplace for the brand new arrivals and addresses the “creator who made the earth, the forest, the animals and all that we see, together with ourselves”.

Guatemala has a lot of green jungle, home to a colourful variety of wildlife.Guatemala has loads of inexperienced jungle, residence to a vibrant number of wildlife.In the course of the blessing, Chayax retreats into himself, along with his arms crossed and his eyes closed. The priest takes sips of a high-proof beverage and spits it instantly into the fireplace, in order that it ignites. He later reveals that in his litany he has requested for the friends to obtain “permission to go to Tikal and the holy locations”.

The Tikal website leads you into the previous of the Maya. It was the guts of a robust regional state that existed till about 900 AD, with many as 80,000 folks dwelling right here. Temples, carved stelae and connecting paths are nonetheless seen right this moment. However little of Tikal has been excavated to date, journey information Emilio Faillace explains.

The spotlight of the location is the Nice Plaza and its two pyramids, the place 140 steps lead you as much as the sky. The views over the rainforest and the stone buildings are unbelievable.

However Tikal is only one of many websites for culturally engaged travellers to Guatemala. An open-air museum of archaeology is positioned in Yaxha, close to the lake of the identical title. The in depth Mayan website was residence to solar worship and astronomical observations.

The colourful Chichicastenango cemetery in Guatemala.The colorful Chichicastenango cemetery in Guatemala.

The jungle in Yaxha pushes itself even nearer to the ruins than in Tikal, as if it’s making an attempt to reclaim the terrain. Large timber develop on the temple ruins, and roots encompass the historic buildings like tentacles. You’ll be able to really feel the fixed screams of the howler monkeys in your bones.

Within the highlands of Guatemala, Christian and Mayan traditions meet in Chichicastenango. The pilgrimage church of Santo Tomas was constructed by Christian Spaniards on prime of a destroyed Mayan temple.

On the entrance right this moment, Mayan clergymen and priestesses stand with cans of incense, which additionally fog the inside of the church. The candlelight within the twilight and the prayers of the devoted, who stroll the best way to the altar on their knees, give the church a mystical aura.

Religion is deeply rooted within the lifetime of the inhabitants of Chichicastenango. Tuk-tuk driver Rigoberto Riquiac Conoz all the time seeks out a priest “when enterprise is unhealthy”. His blessing prices him as much as 1,000 quetzals (US$130/RM530). It’s some huge cash in Guatemala, however the priest additionally has to make a dwelling, he says. – dpa/Andreas Drouve

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