Monday, December 24, 2012
TIKAL and the dawning of 14 BAKTUN
|Last hours of 13 Baktun in Tikal National Park|
Just days before that date I was given the opportunity to actually BE IN the ancient Mayan city of Tikal here in Guatemala and take part in the celebrations! A small local travel agency threw together a bus trip complete with meals and park admissions so off we went. No hotel was needed as we would be sleeping (or not) in the park. The Guatemalan government decided in the last few days to open the park all night so that people of all faiths or lack thereof could experience this historic time. Our group of 28 adventurers (Jonesy stayed home) arrived in the last few minutes of the 20th, hustled to the Gran Plaza of Temple 2 and set up camp. Thousands of people were already there. What a scene!
There were bonfires with dancing and chanting, music, and spotlights in different colors moved about the crowd and up into the nearby jungle and structures of the Gran Plaza. It was spectacular and at yet, at the same time subdued! Kinda reminded me of the music festivals I used to attend back in the late '60s, but with a little more spirituality and fewer drugs. Mayan shamans conducted ceremonies, incense was burned and a rainbow of candles were lit.
|Long climb up to the top of Temple 4, Tikal|
Through the night and into the next day marimbas (the traditional Guatemalan xylophone) were played by different groups. At about 3am (Dec 21st) a group of young people donned costumes and danced the Dance of the Deer in the Gran Plaza. The costumes were so different from those that I had seen in the past. Some were form-fitting jaguar (printed jersey) outfits and real deer skins and heads! Loved it!
|A fire pit and ceremony Tikal December 21, 2012|
The sky was clear and filled with stars. We witnessed many shooting stars and I even spotted a satellite crossing the sky right before dawn. A park guide asked us all to be quiet and reflective. That made the next 45 minutes so much better. Yes, as soon as it was light enough my knitting came out. Unfortunately, the clouds moved in right at dawn.
|Terry and President Perez of Guatemala|
So, after being awake all night, it was time for a guided tour of some of the park. Why not - I figured I could sleep later. Our guide started us out with a detailed description of how the pyramids in Tikal form an astronomical matrix. I think he finally realized that the glazed looks on our sleepless faces meant we weren't absorbing much of his talk. It just wasn't the day for this discussion.
|Tikal Gran Plaza Dec. 21st, 2012 Celebration|
|Marimba and Mayan dancers|
|Temple 2 and Gran Plaza|
At some point on the trip home, we turned into the small town of El Remate which is located on the shore of the lake Lago Peten Itza in the district of Peten. We had stopped to enjoy a light box lunch with views of the lake. Also, this village is known for it's wood carvings and there were plenty there to see. Children hawked keychains with carved animal figures to anyone who would make eye contact. If I didn't live on a sailboat with minimal storage spaces, I would have eagerly purchased some of the beautiful serving bowls and platters.
We made it to the Rio Dulce and were quickly tossed into launcha boats and delivered to our respective marinas. I'm sure my fellow travelers hit their bunks quickly like I did - with visions of bonfires, dancers and temples in their heads. Life is good.
Sorry to have missed it!! I KNOW you took lots of pics though so will "see" it vicariously thru those. What a marvelous experience!! JackiePost a Comment