Trompe le Monde: A Round the World Tour Diary

An online travel diary so people can keep up to date with what I'm doing and where I'm going.

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Location: Home, United Kingdom

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Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Tikal

You know that bit in Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope (or, as to it I shall hereafter refer, Star Wars) where the Death Star is going to blow up the Rebel base? I've been to that very base. No, I haven't travelled to a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. Today I went to Tikal, a famous Mayan ruin site and the location for filming for that very Rebel base (side note: does anyone in the film actually say the name of the planet said base is on? All I remember is that it's not Dantooine).

Smug points next time I watch Star Wars aside, what was the point of me visiting another Mayan ruin? Well, even leaving aside the point that Mayan ruins are great and I'm not yet bored of them, Tikal is miles better than Copan. There are more temples, and less intricately carved Stelae (sort of like tombstones with carvings of gods and rulers on them; very nice if you know what you're looking at, kind of samey if not).

Not only are there more temples, in fact, but they are also better: Taller, more varied, more impressive on every front except for carvings. Also, and this is the trump card, there's no need to go on a jungle walk in Tikal: you're permanently in the jungle. The temples are surrounded by it on all sides. The only time you're out from the green canopy is when, ascending the steep stone steps of a 1400 year old pyramid temple, you break through the top levels of foliage and emerge, blinking in the dazzling sunlight, for a breathtaking view across miles and miles of green, literally extending as far as the eye can see in all directions. Plus you can also see howler monkeys, parrots, peacocks (on the ground, admittedly, not visible from the top of a temple), eagles soaring overhead and other temples poking above the trees like (overused cliché metaphor alert) islands in a see of green. It's fantastic.



Right, don't expect to hear from me for a while: I'm off to Belize, where I shall be relaxing on a tiny island in the Caribbean and not speaking Spanish - Belize, having been formerly owned by Good Ol' Blighty, speaks English. Well, Creole and English. Maybe I'll pick up some patois...

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