Exploring Guatemala- Tikal, Flores, and Finca Ixobel

Our entrance into Guatemala couldn’t have been any more spectacular. Our first stop was Tikal, the ancient Mayan ruins in the northeast. Again, we are just amazed at how advanced these civilizations were. Huge cities with magnificent architecture. You really have to see this to believe it. These cities just rise up out of the jungle. Unlike other ruins around the world (like in Egypt), the buildings here were built without the use of the wheel. Think about that for a second. (Read more info about Tikal at the bottom).

After Tikal we spent a night in the town of Flores located on a tiny island in the middle of a lake. That was a pretty cool little spot. We enjoyed delicious food and the drinks were ridiculously cheap. For that reason we had to have 2 or 10 of them.

Here we are 8.5 drinks into the afternoon. It took 10 minutes to figure out how to use the self timer on our camera. It couldn’t have been the alcohol, so it must have been how the Japanese build cameras. Don’t worry, I intend to write a letter to consumer report.
After that we headed south to Finca Ixobel, a little eco hotel located in the jungle. We had a fun horseback riding trip into the pine forests. Now our butts hurt.
We’re moving on this morning, heading southwest. TREE
More on TIKAL:
The collapse of the Classic Maya is one of history’s biggest mysteries still plaguing archaeologists (and my friend Jen) to this day. What makes the disappearance of the lowland Maya civilizations so intriguing is the combination of the cultural sophistication they attained before the collapse and the relative suddenness of the collapse itself.

Classic Maya culture developed in three regions in Mesoamerica. By far the most important and most complete urban developments occurred in the lowlands of Guatemala. This region is a drainage basin about sixty miles long and twenty miles wide and is covered by tropical rain forest. Tropical rain forest is extremely difficult to live in; despite its lushness and moisture, it can only support small human populations. While plant and animal growth seems almost out of control and the rains never stop, the rich soil actually makes extremely poor agricultural land. The principal urban center built in this unlikely region was Tikal.

The first people settled in Tikal around 700 BC. By about 250 AD, the dawn of the Classic period, Tikal had become a heavily populated, religious, cultural, and commercial center, but it would not even reach its apogee until 700 AD. Then, a mere two hundred years later, POOF! The people vanished. This thriving tropical urban center was completely abandoned. Why would a people so advanced in astronomy, mathematics, and language desert their city center? 

One of the latest and most compelling reasons is that the lowland Mayas brought their demise upon themselves by allowing their population to grow too large, which forced them to overuse their natural resources.  Sound familiar? Stevie


  1. Brilliant! Can I come join you guys somewhere? I'll sleep with kiki, really…

  2. Hi Stevie,
    You look so happy and so beautiful. We are proud of the life you have chosen to live. Keep pursuing your dream.
    Lots of Love, Terry and Duke

  3. I'm reading 1491 Tree. Thanks for the tip. AM.A.ZING.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Really enjoying finding your blog! My husband & I live right outside of Portland, Oregon so feel as though you're one of us:) We did a backpacking round-the-world in 2007-2008, right now are back at work saving up $$ and then hope to be off in a couple of years to drive the Panamerican and circle around South America and then, who knows!
    Keep up the great posts and pics and great to see Kiki.. unfortunately, Maddy, our old black dog may no longer be with us by the time we head south but we absolutely plan on bringing a dog with us so glad to see how well it's going for you all.
    Cheers and safe driving. Rhonda (and Jim)

  5. Alexis Schulman says:

    "The pyramid blocks were hewn from quarries using stone and copper tools. There are examples of each stage of block extraction at existing ancient quarries. Granite was quarried using pounding stones of dolerite, some of which have been found laying about the quarries. The blocks were transported to the pyramid site from remote quarries using barges, and from local quarries using wooden sleds. The Egyptians did not use the wheel during the Pyramid Age, an invention that would have been of limited used on softer ground under heavy loads. The sleds were dragged manually, sometimes with the help of beasts of burden, over smoothed roads. Some of the existing pathways were equipped with transverse wooden beams to lend support to the sled. A lubricant may have been poured upon the road to reduce friction." Thanks google search, Tree just got MODED. LOL.
    If I didn't stop school to work in the movie industry I dreamed of getting my PHD in History with an emphasis on the ancient world. In other words BOOYAH. LOL.

  6. Check out the brain on Brad!
    I stand corrected. Thanks Sis.

  7. Hey Guys, Great Blog! Fun, Inspiring… I have already passed your address along to others pining to take off but instead sit, unsure in the 'Land of Certainty'.

    As for your recent arrival in Guatemala, might I suggest, if you haven't already heard… stop in the Rio Dulce(aka Fronteras), park/stay at Bruno's and plan to take a side trip down the Rio to Livingston, perhaps staying in the canyon at Finca Tatin near the association, Ak'Tenamit (a wonderful project that supports the local Q’eqchi Maya). Then after hanging out with Phillip in Livingston (take him some paperbacks for donation to the school library, maybe he will give you a tour of the 'real' Livingston) and getting your hair done up in cornrows (persistent hair stylists there)… get in your van and ask how to get to the hot waterfalls at Finca Paraiso (about 45 minutes West of Fronteras). It is an Indiana Jonesian like jungle confluence of a river that flows out of a cave and a 25' waterfall of luscious, back pummeling hot water. A day there will be long remembered, especially if you make your way up river to the cave (bout a 1/2 mile)… take water-proof head lamps, swim in and be amazed! (note: you may need to negotiate with the guard at the waterfall to let you wander up river, otherwise just slip off over the rocks and when you return give him a decent 'tip' (30Q or so) for guarding your towels)
    I'm also from Oregon, and preparing to leave next week in my reconditioned Westy for my first ever drive south (always have flown), to the Rio in fact, where I keep my sailing cat and regain my sanity. Disfruta y Buen Suenos! – Biff

  8. Hi Biff,

    Wow, thanks for all the great advice. We just did Livingston (see our next post). We'll check out your other suggestions. Thank you so much! Cheers – TREE

  9. Hi Rhonda and Jim and Maddy,
    sounds like you've been on a great adventure and that you have another one coming. Do you guys have a blog? If so, send it over! TREE

  10. Hey Biff- Congratulations on taking the drive!!! Wooohoo!!! Are you starting a blog? We'd love to follow your adventure and swap notes along the way. Wish we were going to be here when you were here….would have loved a sundowner on the deck of your cat 🙂

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