Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Tikal Tikal Tikal
After a wonderfully exhausting morning at Yaxha we headed for Tikal about an hour and a half away.
I was grateful for the chance to just sit and rest from all the climbing and monkey keep away.
The rocky road combined with our exhaustion now became a lullaby urging us to take a well deserved nap.
Jack sat next to me his head bobbing against the glass straining to find a comfortable position.
I watched it for awhile until it dawned on me that I was his mother.
I laid my coat on my lap and told him to stretch out and lay his head down for a few zzz's
He seemed grateful as I scratched his head while he slept.
I had forgotten how good it was to be able to take care of him again.
Two years ago, I had to work hard to let go of taking care of his temporal needs and focus on being a support from a thousand miles away, writing only once a week, calling just 4 precious times, going against everything I knew how to do as a mother.
I had almost forgotten that I could now do that again.
My legs were numb from the mornings hike and keeping them still underneath his head.
I didn't care.
I was his mother again and enjoying getting back from the two year break.
We reached Tikal around lunch time and decided that we didn't want to waste the daylight by eating at the restaurant there so we purchased soft drinks, cookies and pringles to sustain us.
We had fun buying Jack things that he had denied himself on his mission because of costs.
We found a semi shady place to sit down and eat. My back was killing me from the morning and so I sat on the ground so I could have something behind me.
That's when I saw THE ant.
I had seen these ants the day before at Petencito Zoo and was amazed.
They are leaf cutter ants and they are EVERYWHERE in Peten. You cannot walk 20 feet without coming across or almost stepping on a line of them.
They amazed me with their capacity to carry objects much larger than themselves.
I noticed as I sat eating my lunch that they were carrying away Pringle crumbs while we ate.
There was one ant in particular that had bitten off a little more than he could chew or carry.
Having a sore back myself I felt a kinship with the little guy as he struggled and strained under his heavy load.
I whispered him to just put it down (I know that's what I would do) and I even put a smaller crumb in front him to entice him to give up.
He just kept trying and trying, attacking the piece from every angle.
At one point I thought he had finally seen the folly of his ways as he left the chip crumb and walked off.
He had gone to get an ant friend.
I raised my hand to Jack as he helped me get back on my feet to climb yet another set of stairs.
Tikal was much more "touristy" than Yaxha and I saw my first "gringo" of my trip.
It somehow made me feel a little more at ease and I started to enjoy the beautiful ruins.
I had been reserving my strength all day to make sure that I could climb to the top of the highest ruin available. It was not as bad as I thought and said a little thank you shout out to the YMCA and Peanut.
When we got to the top the view was worth the climb.
We sat up there just taking it all in.
I tried to imagine the people who built it and what their lives had been like.
I enjoyed the cool breeze that was more obvious from the higher elevation.
I thought what a wonderful moment we were having together.
And then the bubble burst.
In the form of four very inebriated Guatemalan youth.
How they got to the top of the structure without falling and killing themselves is a wonder.
At first they seemed friendly and harmless,
but then as they talked, even though I know no Spanish I figured they were talking about us, and NOT in a good way,
I looked to my only translator...
He was looking straight ahead, his eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched.
If he had been a cartoon character there would have been smoke streaming from his ears.
He was angry.
For the record that does not happen very often. I always called Jack, happy Jack for his easy going disposition. I had not seen Jack this angry in a long time.
I tried to whisper to him and ask him what was wrong but he said to be quiet and just keep staring straight ahead and not make eye contact.
I wanted to leave.
Climb down the long narrow stairway to the other people below but Jack said to wait, that they would leave soon.
And they did, after taking some pictures of them huddled together, mugging for the camera and sticking their middle fingers in the air.
I was relieved until I heard someone saying from the top of the stairs, Hey...Hey.
I looked over to see the youngest of the group, the one who I noticed looked too sweet for the pack of guys he was with, trying to get our attention.
He had waited until his friends has started to make their way down the steps.
In broken English he said,
Sorry....sorry about that.
And then he was gone back down with his buddies.
Jack sat for a few minutes before he told me how much he hated alcohol and what it has done to the lives of the families he loved in Guatemala.
I could tell from his face that he had seen and experienced sadness from the effects of alcohol in families there first hand and I felt a little sad that he was exposed to that but so proud that he would feel so strongly about it.
I wondered about the young man and what chances he had to retain the spirit that I thought I saw a glimpse of in his apology.
The rest of the afternoon it weighed on my mind.
More howler monkeys...at least that is what I was told.
I never did actually see the little buggars.