In The Way

Slinkies at Tikal!

It was totally worth the adventure hats. Last Sunday we flew up north the see the ancient ruins of Tikal.

Our flight left from Guatemala City somewhere around 6:30 in the morning, which meant that our bus left Antigua at 4am. It gets light around 6 here, which made 4 am either very early in the morning or very late at night.

On the way to the bus we witnessed two men stop their moto, dismount, chug the rest of their can of beer, and keep driving.

It was cold in the morning as we drove to Guatemala City, and my zipper broke on my athletic jacket I wore in the morning.

After checking into the airport with our passports, and checking out all of the other American and Asian tourists, we were ready to fly.

Valerie and I had been talking about going to Tikal for months, and had exquisitely planned wearing extreme jungle adventure uniforms as well as imitating Ace Ventura with some slinkies.

Here is a picture of us with our adventure uniforms!

Matching outfits! Photo from Libby Sgambelluri.

When we arrived in Peten about an hour later we noticed two things. 1) it was much hotter than Antigua and 2) our touristy van smelled of mildew.

While driving into the park we noticed these signs. These signs were hilarious, but also instilled some fear in us. Seeing 3 giant yellow signs warning of the eminent danger of snakes is a little intimidating. I am terrified of snakes, and I’m still recovering from our adventures through rattlesnake country in South Dakota.

Here are some pictures of the signs.

Snake!!

Small animal of some time! I don´t remember what these were called!

Pabo / Turkey!

Puma / Jaguar!!

This is either a boa constrictor with cute bunnies inside, or a speed bump with three bumps. I´ll let you decide.

After arriving where we enter the park, we met up with our guide, whose name I believe was Carlos. He had a large mustache, and grew up in this very jungle area. He was super knowledgeable, and gave us a very excellent tour. Crystal, an assistant with Spring Arbor University, noted that he was the best guide we have ever had for any SAU tours.

He made jokes like ¨You can´t run from a jaguar. You just have to run faster than someone else.¨ or ¨If you touch a branch on a tree, and realize it is kind of slimy and moving, you should probably move your hand. It might be a snake.¨ and ¨If you feel something falling on you from above, it probably isn´t rain water. It´s pee from the monkeys.¨

You get the point.

After a few of these jokes we stopped by the beautiful Ceiba tree, the national tree of Guatemala, and a tree integral to the rainforests in this part of the world. I saw this tree in the Milwaukee Public Museum this summer, but of course, it was merely a fake replica.

Here´s the tree.

The beautiful Ceiba tree, national tree to Guatemala.

This tree is something of an oak tree in Michigan in that it is the centerpiece for the surrounding jungle. It provides shade for surrounding plants and trees, is much taller and wider than other trees, and, I would imagine, has some huge root systems.

As we walked up to this tree, Carlos said, ¨Hold on a a second, I am going to see if I can find my little friend today.¨ From the path, he walked behind this beautiful tree. The way he gave us his mustachioed smile, and the way he had a twinkle in his eye, I was sure he was about to throw a fake snake out at us from inside his backpack. Valerie and I hung back from the group, not wanting to panick upon said snake-throwing. We were thinking something like ¨this is going to be great, us laughing at them.¨

When we heard girls screaming, we realized we had guessed incorrectly. Instead, Carlos had walked behind the tree and lured out a real live, wild tarantula that was living under the tree! It was unbelievable!

He said ¨When I was a kid, we didn´t have uhplaystation. We just had these, and these are my favorite toy.¨

And with that, he asked anyone if they wanted to hold it. Here is a photo. There is a video, too, but it is on the Facebook, so I can´t post it on here. You´ll have to befriend Valerie or I to view this.

Valerie holding the tarantula! Seconds before she held it, I thought to myself ¨There is no way I can hold that thing¨, and even did a sissy shudder at the thought! There´s an awesome video on the Facebook!

The rest of the day went great. We saw ruins, monkeys, turkeys, tarantulas, (NO SNAKES!), and the incredible views from the tops of the ruins of Tikal. It was a blast, and we absolutely loved it.

Valerie and I at one of the 4 ¨main¨ temples. This is on all of the Guatemalan liscence plates, and currency, and things like that.

Guatemalan National Liscence Plate!

For months Valerie and I had been scheming how to make the Tikal experience the best experience possible. So, we thought, what better to take to some ancient pyramids but a SLINKY? After watching this memorable scene from Ace Ventura, we had to take it with.

Heres a picture to prove that it happened!

Slinkys down some ancient Mayan stairs.

Valerie just has the best of ideas. Altogether, we slinked, we slanked, and got a bunch of great pictures.

As always, thanks so much to the Gilman Scholarship for helping fund this awesome trip to Guatemala! Check their site out at http://www.iie.org/GILMAN

Thanks for reading!

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