I leave Belize to get in Guatemala, I move away from the Caribbean coast to the picturesque village of Flores. Geographically, Flores is a projection of land in the southern part of the Peten Itza lake and is flanked with an only bridge to reach it. We cross the bridge and we get into another dimension, a cobblestone road encircles the blocks of colourful houses and gives the impression of a tourist sphere besides the city of Santa Elena. A cosy place to cheer us up or to prepare us to receive a visual and emotional slap in the face because this small peninsula is the entrance gate to the archaeological site of Tikal. “Stones and stones again” or “just another Mayan site” will say the blasé tourist, but on the shady paths of the dazzling and enchanting city of Tikal, probably dawned the honour of the most beautiful site of the Mayan empire.
The site is huge and the ways numerous to link the monuments to one another. More than ever, the jungle took over the old edifices of an extinct civilization which formerly built and livened up these stone-made pyramids. To wholly live the Tikal experience, we must set off in search of adventure like a trip we would embark in without any established plan or like a dish we would order without knowing its contents. Return to the roots of a genuine exploration, where elements of surprise invited themselves at each junction of the discovery paths.
In the return bus, the sensory whirl hardly fades that a seed has jut germinated in my head. Another city, even bigger and more mysterious whose main pyramid would cover the totality of the central square of Tikal by itself. Unimaginable to tell oneself that this site keeps on wandering anonymously far from the desires. To reach it, we must dust our trekking shoes and walk for 2 days through the forest to finally marvel at this grandiose city known as El Mirador. Unfortunately, it's not the good season to go there but this sort of adventure attracts me and just arrived, I have already a good reason to come back to Guatemala.
Keyword - wonders of the world -
Thursday 4 December 2008
Monday 24 November 2008
Divers of all over the world rush to the Yucatan for a little bit special immersion. And so do I, I gave in to temptation, the weird universe of the cave diving. Here, no fish, no corals, no current, but a couple of stalagmites and stalactites, flabbergasting plays of light, a visibility that can reach 100m and a Dantean impression of navigating in another world. For my introductory dives, I booked an intensive day with the discovery of 3 cenotes, Dos Ojos, Calavera and Grand Cenote. An inebriating selection: Dos Ojos for its subaquatic rocky outgrowths and the rays of the sun which in places hit this submerged cathedral, Calavera for its green waters and haloclines and Grand Cenote for its half-moon shape. Before diving, we get strict instructions about the safety. We go into the water and fitted with a lamp we start kicking alongside an Ariadne's thread. The feeling of breathing underground and wandering about among an almost complete darkness make me shiver with joy. We play with the stalactites surrounded by a heavy silent that only the noise of our bubbles tear. At the end of the Dos Ojos cave, a hole lets the rays of a soft and saving light gush out; the divers of another group seem to hover in the middle of this luminous halo. Exhilaration of gliding in this unreal world. Time goes too fast and we are already at half-dive, we go astern and kick towards the entrance. We get off, the smile clung to our lips and not totally recovered from our underground experience.
The other dives will complete the emotional patchwork of these aquatic peregrinations.
Halfway between Tulum and Playa del Carmen, another cenote attracts the fans or neo-enthusiasts of these underground aquatic networks. The cenote Chacmool offers the most beautiful plays of light and to that, we'll have the unforgettable opportunity to split the dive into two by surfacing into a grottoe. We take off our masks and regulators to contemplate this exclusive cavity. We are the pioneers in front of their discovery. Filled with pleasure, we swim on the surface, we observe the different stalactites and the roots of several trees which seep through the rock to come and draw the nourishing liquid. It's time to leave our find and kick back towards the land with the same sensation of not being completely here when we finish the dive, the mind drifting at several meters underwater.
Sunday 16 November 2008
We thought that after Chichen Itza, the other Mayan cities would be tasteless, passed over in silence. That was without counting on the elegant city of Uxmal. Admittedly, the game ball doesn't reach the proportions of its elder sister and the main pyramid impresses less but the interest is elsewhere. We find again the gorgeous blend of a nature which embellishes this kind of archaeological remains. Not too much intertwined roots to let the stone breathe which the sun gently ricochet off. But enough foliage to clear away the impression of a theme park creating from nothing. The iguanas run onto the unstable white bricks. We can go round a wall and triumphantly come out through the main gate which looks over the main square. At the bottom of the park, a long staircase drives us to the top. We look back and the previous buildings we just stepped on settle down below. The greatest ones tear the greenish ceiling wallpapered by the foliage of the canopy. A fabulous view Chichen Itza didn't offer to us. That's the way that Uxmal wins the elegance contest beyond dispute.
And to complete our Mayan collection, a scenic road made of curves cut in the forest links other small undervalued sites which are worth the trip. Kabah, Sayil, Labna or more south, Edzna sound like the elementary particles of one of the most glorious civilizations of the humanity.
We leave the north of the Yucatan peninsula to head for a third land of Mayan remnants nestled into the Chiapas state, Palenque. The hostel which welcomes us for the night belongs to the coast town of Champoton; nothing exciting but heavy pelicans which have a go at an elegance exercise, perched on wooden blocks.
« previous entries - page 1 of 7