Slowly everyone in our group entered the main lobby of the Tikal Inn to meet up with Roxy and her crew to begin the second half of our tour. Destination: Yaxha, pronounced "Yah-sha".
Yaxha is a Maya archeological site that sits in north-eastern Guatemala. The former ceremonial city centre was named after the nearby Lake Yaxha. The name derives from the Mayan word, yaxa, which means "Blue-green water".
We all piled into the travel van and set off. Fifteen minutes into the trip, I realized that I should have made a trip to the little girls room; the ride wasn't supposed to be too long, and I thought I could just hold it. That's what I get for drinking too many liquados!
We got off of the one lane highway and proceeded on a "gravel" road, which was more of a boulder road (I'm serious). Many of the bumps were so big they would send you off your seat just to land to be sent flying off again and again. This twenty minute ride on boulder road was not helping my situation - every time I would land on the seat it felt like I was being punched in the kidneys. A sports bra would have been a good decision! Ouch!
When we arrived in the parking lot, I was surprised and impressed with my bladder that it hadn't yet burst on impact. I did not even wait for the van to come to a stop, I leapt out the door to the nearest washroom. Aahhhhhhhhh... what a relief. I did not care that the washroom had no lights, no seats, no toilet paper, no soap or even a way to keep the stall door closed. When in Guatemala you quickly learn to carry toilet paper and hand sanitizer around with you at all times - the main airport didn't even have any!
Once again, we followed Roxy around as she painted vivid stories of these ancient Mayan people. Whether it was due to the harsh sun at Tikal or possibly the occasional morning nausea I felt from the antimalarial medication or maybe even a combination of both - I was able to enjoy the tour of Yaxha much more then Tikal. The intense sun wasn't beating straight down on us any longer but instead it lit up the temples and ruins with a beautiful warm golden glow.
Yaxha is the third largest Maya city in Guatemala following only Tikal and El Mirador - which the only way to see, is by taking a 5-6 day trek (hiking/camping) through the jungle.
Yaxha has more than 500 structures in its 237 square kilometers that are linked by causeways.
At the end of the tour we arrived at the base of another giant temple that we were going to climb. I was very pleased to see this temple also had a wooden staircase built around it. Breathless and sweaty, I staggered to the top and instantly forgot how much pain my calves and hamstrings were from all the climbing. All that I could see and think about was the glorious view from the temple top. The shimmer of the lakes, the scattered blanket clouds, the trees and jungle, the song of the birds, the howl of the monkeys, the silence of the travellers and the setting of the sun. Everything so beautiful and perfect. I fell in love with that moment and will never forget it. We all sat gazing at the top of the temple all relatively silent and in our own moments.
There was a narrow path set up along the edge of the upper platform that circled the temple. I pretty much stayed planted to where I was - I'm not particularly a fan of edges or cliffs or falling hundreds of feet, so I let Steve explore and tell me all about it.
Eventually the sun was almost set and Roxy encouraged us to start our descent so that we aren't stuck climbing down in the pitch black.
The ride back to our hotel was fairly quiet, everyone exhausted from the big day of adventure. Napping a bit and chatting a bit with the other travellers and then we arrived at our hotel - one more hill to climb! We said our good-byes to Roxy and the others and went for showers and then to the restaurant to get some dinner finally.
Dinner was amazing as usual and we started chatting with another Torontonian couple staying in the hotel. What are the chances of that?! The only other people staying in this remote part of Guatemala in this small hotel is also from Toronto! We discussed Tikal a bit (as they were visiting the following day) and places we have both been and plan on going. It was an amazing day and the evening was nice and relaxed with good food and lovely people. Have I mentioned that I love Guatemala?