We started our hike to the ruins of El Mirador this morning, but Julie threw up twice and didn’t feel up to a 7-hour hike. Luckily we had a flexible itinerary and decided to just take another day at Tintal. We climbed the pyrámida that we missed yesterday with its epicly steep stairs (characteristic of all Mayan ruins, we soon discovered).
Walfre pointed out all the other ruins in the distance, a.k.a. little green lumps.
We talked Mayan history on the pyramid. I noticed that the jungle is flaaaaaaaaaat.
Back at camp, Jim and Vince were jonesing to sleep in a tree. They found two medium-sized trees near the camp and rigged up the hammocks.
I spent my lazy afternoon brainstorming for Zero Tuition College (or whatever it will become). A sunset on the pyramid sealed the deal.
I celebrated the new year somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean by going to bed at 9pm (which is pretty late for the intrepid jungle explorer, especially when the sun sets at 6).
Today we explored the Mayan ruins of Tintal. A pack of howler monkeys greeted us with, you guessed it, some serious howling. (I have a video of this which I’ll get up later.)
We found a sweet “Strangler Fig” tree to climb. This tree sprouts from the ground and wraps itself around other trees like a constricting vine.
I used the Big Shot (a badass $140 slingshot for tree climbing) to put a throw line into the Strangler.
Then I prepared to climb.
We got high.
Vince got realllly high, using our special “Spider rig” technique which lets you move between nearby (10-15 feet away) with ease. On the hike back to camp I spotted a little feral pig. That night we met a few of the other, much larger tourist groups in Tintal, which included Germans, Italians, Swiss, Beligiums, Guatemalans, and Australians.
The first day of our 10-day jungle trek started at 5am with Walfre (our guide) picking us up in his sweet Toyota.
Along the way we bought cigarettes with which to “bribe” the guards at each ruins site. (This turned out to be more of a nicety than a bribe.) We also stopped for breakfast at a comedor típica. I peeked into the kitchen.
Vince played ¨Welcome to the Jungle¨on his iPod as we drove farther into the endless green canopy. Bienvenidos a la jungla became our trip slogan.
We picked up our guide’s assistant, Juan Carlos (blue shirt on the left), and the muleskinner, Miguel, in the village of Carmelita. Loaded gear and people on the mullas and off we went.
Tourist’s route. At least they’re honest about it. I read that Guatemala gets 60% of its income from tourism.
Jim fell in love with the pimienta plant, a.k.a. allspice. His mule was also named Pimienta.
Other highlights of the day included:
- Getting my first mosquito bite. Malaria, hooo!
- Falling off the mule after it ran me into multiple low branches. Jim fell off too as his mule hit a mud pocket.
- Checking out some authentico chicle trees.
After 5 hours of walking and riding we reached our first ruins site, Tintal. We set up our hammocks, trying to avoid the mule poo everywhere. My sweet hammock is on the right.