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  • Brian D. Hinson

The Mayan Ruins of Tikal in Guatemala


The Mayans left behind a wealth of ruined cities for us to explore. Tikal is one of the most spectacular, located in the Peten region of Guatemala.

My girlfriend Tracy and I were there in a rented Jeep in 1995. The plan was to see as many of these cities as we could manage in two weeks. The civil war that went on for decades had just ended about six months previous. Some of the former guerrillas had turned to banditry, so we had to be a bit cautious. Also, the roads were so shitty that sometimes moving at about ten miles an hour was about all we could muster. The original plan was in the trash after only a few days.


But we were not missing Tikal, king of the Mayan cities in Central America.


We stayed in a little hotel in Flores, a nearby town the night before. We were cautioned to follow one of the tour busses that departed at the crack of dawn. We weren’t hot on waking up so early, but, the advice was sound. Lots of tourist vehicles got robbed on that road, and the busses had armed security on board.

I tailgated a bus the entire sixty or so kilometers.


Worth it? Hell yeah. The ruins of ancient civilizations always give me shivers of excitement, and Tikal has the goods. Towering pyramids steeply rise from the jungle floor. Partially restored buildings of commercial and cultural significance have trees still making efforts to grow from their stone walls. Stellae stand in silent tribute to a dynasty that ruled the city for a thousand years. The song of the rainforest birds echo off all the stones as you stand high above, surveying the remains of a powerful empire from atop a pyramid over 200 feet tall.

Today, there’s no such frequency of highway robbery. Guatemala is still cheap and the roads have improved exponentially.

This book by Joyce Kelly is an indispensable as guide for the ruins and as tomes of historical and cultural information.


An Archaeological Guide to Northern Central America : Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and el Salvador



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