In anticipation of my husband and sons fondness for climbing everything they see,
I joined a local gym and started walking.
At first I could only walk 15 minutes or so.
My goal was to not slow down Todd or Jack.
That thought alone of disappointing them kept me motivated most days.
By the time I left for Guatemala a year later I was walking for 45 minutes on a pretty steep incline.
(A shout out to my very own personal trainer Peanut. Thank you for all of the times when I did not want to go that you were there beside me, encouraging me. I will always be grateful.)
I would need every bit of that training for this day.
It was decided that instead of JUST visiting Tikal which is a beautiful huge collection Mayan ruins, we would also go to Yaxha, a lesser known but still magnificent historical site, ON THE SAME DAY!
We decided we would start out early and go to Yaxha (prounounced Ya shaw)
Our friend Alfonso was there waiting for us outside of the hotel with that big smile I had come to depend on.
We drove for about a half an hour on a fairly well paved road only to turn off onto a very primitive dirt road.
This would be "the road" (and I use that term loosely) for the next hour as we made the ascent up to higher ground. Alfonso seemed to know the road like the back of his hand, weaving back and forth and side to side to miss the worst of the pot holes and jagged rocks.
Occasionally there would be a cow or a horse or pig in the road and it looked like he would run right into it but the animal always seemed to move just an inch to the left or the right to avoid being roadkill. It was like a well choreographed dance.
We arrived at Yaxha and I could see why Alfonso was excited for us to see it.
It was truly as if we had stepped back in time to the days of the Mayans.
It was remote and junglely and we were the only three people in the park save it were the employees at the front and Alfonso, who would wait at the car.
Todd and Jack scrambled to the top of the first structure they could climb. I stayed below to take pictures and to survey the landscape. I being the most anxious in the group always become the navigator, surveying the lay of the land and planning possible escape routes should a jaguar suddenly appear from the thick forest foliage.
Jack had told me that it was not unheard of.
I wish that I could fully explain what it felt like to be in this fairly remote jungle area, just the three of us, as if we had stepped back into a previous time.
The sights and sounds were overwhelming.
Here is a video that I hope gives you a taste.
The sounds of the howler monkeys were unlike anything I had ever heard.
The only sounds that I had heard like that before were from the soundtrack of Jurassic Park.
It made our little adventure seem fraught with danger. (I have been waiting for a chance to use the word fraught)
As we made our way towards the sounds they abruptly stopped.
The silence seemed scarier.
Todd and Jack both without discussion picked up big rocks and held them in their hands.
I was not sure whether to be comforted by that or not. I mean how good was their aim?, I wondered
We stopped briefly to look up into the trees to see if there was any movement.
I suggested that we just drop the rocks and go. I sighed with relief as the wooded area led to a clearing.
Jack and Todd found the highest of the pyramid like structures to scramble up.
Once again I stayed behind to take pictures and slow my heart rate down to acceptable non threatened levels.
And then perhaps my favorite memory of Yax'ha happened.
I watched as my husband and son sat alone on top of an ancient civilization and they talked.
I don't know what they talked about,
But they sat up there a long time, side by side, deep in conversation.
And my heart was filled with gratitude.
Gratitude for the wonderful man who has been more of a father than I could have ever hoped or even chosen for our children; kind, gentle, always interested in their lives, willing to climb anything along side of them, filled with love.
Gratitude for my son who served the Lord faithfully for two years, kind and gentle like his father, starting a new phase of his life with endless possibilities.
Gratitude that they had this moment together.
And I got to watch from a distance.
Grateful that I had a camera, but realizing it would be one of the mental snapshots that I would keep forever.