After another long bus ride we found ourselves in Flores, a town close to the Tikal archaeological ruins. It's an interesting little island which does not have a single tree. We stayed at a rather lively hostel called Los Amigos and we had three small quails living just under the window to our little room. For the first night we were perplexed by this amazingly loud and strange bird call only to find out the next day that it was one of these tiny quails (n o bigger than the palm of my hand) standing up tall and periodically yelling its lungs out.
Our tour of Tikal was quite interesting. Part of the appeal is the diversity of wildlife that can be seen while touring the ruins and we were not disappointed. We saw a small alligator (the big one named Goliath was apparently feeling shy), several Coati, which are related to raccoons but have a pointed snout and a much longer tail. We also saw spider monkeys, howler monkeys, a tarantula and a variety of birds.
The howlers make a spectacular racket and our guide was quite good at instigating their calls by slapping on the tree trunks and imitating their throaty howl.
Tikal is called the city of voices and our guide demonstrated why. By standing at certain spots in front of the temples and clapping your hands, there is an echo produced that is a high pitched sound entirely different from the original clap. It is difficult ot describe but fascinating to witness. The temples themselves are amazingly tall and steep, giving the comparison to New York.
They are actually the ones featured in Apocalypto. Speaking of Apocalypto, Nelly and I had been wanting to see it since Copan and had actually managed to find a DVD copy in Antigua but had been thwarted in actually watching it by various issues of region code incompatibility, not having a DVD player on our laptop, and other annoyances. It had become a game to see what the next impediment would be. At Los Amigos, just before going to Tikal I had asked if I could use their DVD and TV to watch it, and the host told me that it being pm it was a little late for a movie. To add insult to injury he slighted the movie and said it was grossly inaccurate, citing the movie's failure to portray the Mayans as astronomers and instead painting them as murderous and corrupt. I did not bother pointing out that those are not mutually exclusive traits of a society.