Banana tree at La Azotea Cultural Center (Gerry Errante)
We thought it would be a wonderful idea to begin the New Year by visiting Tikal just as it opened at 6:00 AM. However, when our alarm sounded at 4:00 AM, I will admit to having second thoughts. Nevertheless, we persevered, awoke the clerk at the desk of our hotel to retrieve our boxed breakfast, and met Noe who was waiting for us at 5:00. True to our plan, we arrived at Tikal just as it opened at 6:00. Walking through the now somewhat familiar area virtually by ourselves in the early morning mist was quite a special experience. We retraced our steps of the previous day, marveling in the quiet mystery and majesty. Taking advantage of our extra time, we went much farther afield, spending much more time at Temple V, the Plaza of the Seven Temples, and El Mundo Perdido. Noe was a font of information on the history and culture of the entire area. He also had a keen eye, calling to and pointing out various birds and monkeys and of course the plentiful coati. We saw a crocodile as well, but alas, no jaguar. After quite an extensive tour, we returned to our hotel to pack for the trip home. Once we were organized, we took a leisurely stroll through Flores, scoping out a place for out last Guatemalan meal. Our walk along the relatively new malecon was accompanied by an ever-evolving, lingering and stunning sunset. We ended the evening with quite a satisfying meal at Captain Tortuga, accompanied by several bottles of Gallo, the excellent Guatemalan beer.
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