Maya // Tikal Flora & Fauna
Continuing on with the Maya Archaeology series, we’re looking at the abundance of flora and fauna surrounding this impressive site. As mentioned in my last post on Tikal, the magic of this site is in the environment. Sure, the pyramids and temples, altars and sculpture are enough to blow your mind (and they will!), but when you factor in the magnificent setting, deep in the jungle forests of El Petén, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by your senses.
The smell of the earth, somehow similar to a spicy Ichiban noodle scent, and the squish beneath your feet as you trek between structures, pushing vines and giant leaves out of your path. The sounds of the birds, the scurrying of small mammals and the absolutely otherworldly scream of the Howler Monkey giving you a sense of the terror one might get, alone in these parts. The Howlers are the ongoing soundtrack, like an ambient recording you only notice every so often as you drift. Spider Monkeys emerge overhead, their call not as terrifying as their relatives, but enough to get you looking up. And when you do – look out! Nuts, seed , branches, ‘oh please don’t let that be poop’ comes flying down towards you, landing meters from your feet. Are they just having fun with you? Or not-so-subtly saying ‘back off, this is my jungle, man’?
The fifty shades of green are seen in one tropical leaf. Lichen, fungus, ancient bark and wood, carved stone, moss shrouded altars. Those small lumps in the woods – they might be an anthill, they might be an overgrown carving. Ceiba trees somehow find a path to the heavens, shooting directly up from the forest floor. The most impossibly orange bloom awaits in the darkest of shades. Specifically, most everything trod upon here is connected to the greater place that is Tikal.
Tikal, El Petén, Guatemala, 2011.