..... .....

 

MARTIN

TIKAL ........Tikal was settled around 700 BC. Construction didn't begin immediately, but by 250 AD, Tikal had become an important commercial, cultural and religious center. The ruling dynasty was founded by King Yax Moch Xoc. Hopefully, he didn't have to spell that name in kindergarten. Perhaps the kings never went to kindergarten. You know, you are supposed to learn how to share there. In the fourth century, King Great Jaguar Paw, expanded the kingdom and he did it with brute force. Instead of fighting his enemies hand to hand (which I also considered brute force), KGJP encircled his enemies and then had his troops start throwing spears. Of course, not playing nice came with a price. Eventually, their enemies learned how to play just as bad.

MARTIN
MARTIN
MARTIN

The kingdom grew. By the mid-sixth century, the population of 100,000 people sprawled across thirty square kilometers. The city's period of greatness was around 700 AD under the leadership of a king with one of the best names ever, Lord Chocolate. He was also called Moon Double Comb and Ah Cacau, but, seriously, stick with Lord Chocolate please.

The kingdom waned over the next two hundred years and around 900 AD it collapsed. Rediscovery occurred in 1857, when the government of Guatemala sent an expedition to explore the site.

MARTIN

MARTIN

In contrast to Chich�n Itz� that had thousands of visitors while I was there, Tikal had a couple hundred. It was still a couple hundred more than I would have preferred. However, I was able to get photos without masses of humanity in most of my shots.

The park itself was 550 square kilometers. The central city, with more than 4000 structures, occupied 16 square kilometers. There was a lot that could be walked. My friends who I traveled with preferred nature to architecture. So, we headed off the route to the main plaza towards the wilderness. It wasn't my first choice. How could anyone not go directly to the Great Plaza? But, I followed along, sweating profusely in the sweltering heat and humidity. My energy perked up considerably when we found two Mayan temples with no other people around. I knew that would not be the case in the Great Plaza. I was thrilled.

MARTIN
MARTIN

It had to be a continual battle to keep trees and vegetation from reclaiming this treasure that had been hidden for so long. I was careful as I explored, but not quite careful enough. My shoes had no traction and I slipped a little while climbing a pyramid. It was nothing serious, just a little slip up. But, I heard later that a couple of tourists fell to their deaths climbing on the twin pyramids in the Great Plaza. So, you could no longer climb them.

I lingered in the plaza for a long time. The first tower glimpsed through the jungle was Temple 1, the Temple of the Grand Jaguar, built for King Moon Double Comb. First sight of it was one of life's breath taking moments. The pyramid was built by his son, who came to power in 734 AD.

The plaza had two towering pyramids, the second tower facing the first one with equally treacherous steps, covered in moss and other slipper threats. My legs felt wobbly after my climb atop the jungle pyramids.

MARTIN
Click here to see more photos of Tikal.
MARTIN
Copyright 2014 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.