When backpacking we often tend to mix with fellow travelers and wander together for a while, then split and later do the same with other tourists we bump into who are heading the same way. Or when staying at a hostel we get to know like minded people and hang out, just because it’s fun. What do you do when everyone around you is going to see that famous attraction but you’re not too sure if you want to go? Do you go for the sake of ticking it off and keeping up with the group?
Read on and you might have just found the answer to your dilemma. Here is the reason I decided not to visit the most well-known attraction in Guatemala..Tikal
Tikal are the ruins of an ancient city found in a rainforest in Guatemala[wikipedia]
Mexico and Central America are famous for Mayan ruins, there are several of them all around. Some of them are smaller, some of them are bigger, some are easy to get to, others are less accessible, but they are all very impressive…and when you see them you start to wonder …how?…why?…and wow! …and then all of the factual questions come to your mind and you wish you knew more history:-) But you don’t and you just stay in your awe bubble..
After I left the heavenly Caye Caulker(read about how to spend 21 days on a beautiful island of Caye Caulker in Belize for free) I hitchhiked to San Jose Succotz – a little village in the west of Belize – where I stayed with my Couchsurfing hosts. Since I didn’t have a fixed plan as to what to do next, my hosts suggested I go to Guatemala – Tikal – and then come back to Belize and travel with them for a while. That was a suggestion I liked, so I took it:-)
So I went. I stayed with another Couchsurfing host in San Benito, Guatemala. She told me a short story that she had been told when she was a little girl. It was so simple but deep at the same time…and it changed my mind about going to Tikal.
There were several frogs competing to climb a huge mountain and the first to climb to the top, would win. They started to go up, some of the weakest gave up very quickly, others carried on but kept on crying about how hard and impossible it was to go all the way up. Slowly more and more frogs started to drop out. The frogs that were still going kept complaining how high the mountain was and that they would never get to the top, that it would take too much time and energy, that it was dangerous and pointless. Other frogs dropped out. Soon all of the frogs gave up except for only one that kept going without looking back or saying anything. This one frog got all the way to the top and won. After the competition a local newspaper came to see the frog and asked how it had accomplished such a tiring, difficult task. The frog didn't answer, didn't say a word.. Later the frog's friends came to see him. The local newspaper then went to see the frog's friends: 'We asked the frog earlier today how he managed to climb that huge mountain but the frog said nothing. Do you know why?' The frog's friends answered: The frog said nothing because he's deaf...
I thought this was quite a story:) it shows exactly the way we – humans, not frogs:) – are. This little froggy story somehow filled my heart with even more happiness and excitement.
Just think what you would do, or would have done if you never heard any comments, judgments, critics, complaints or warnings towards something you are or you are planning to do. Would your life be different, would you be elsewhere if you always did what YOU wanted and not what others expected from you? Would you have done things that supposedly were dangerous? risky? stupid? crazy? thoughtless? and would you have done things that you really WANTED and not things that you ‘SHOULD be doing’?
I’ve always tried to follow my heart before I listened to others, but sometimes it’s just so easy to forget what it was that we wanted and start doing what is expected from us.
The majority of tourists who visit Guatemala, visit Tikal. I came to conclusion that it is just another Mayan site. It surely is a beautiful one but so are all the other hundreds all around Central America. Why should Tikal be more important than the others and others underestimated? So somehow Tikal became very popular and it made the entrance fee go up to US$20 plus there are special designated buses that go there and also cost fortune (comparing to the local bus prices) while to see other Mayan sites costs around US$4- $5.
I started to question the locals why Tikal was so much more important than the other Mayan sites and no-one seemed to know the answer. Among all the ‘I don’t know’ s there was one ‘because it’s bigger?’ response. I chose to go to a different Mayan site and I was absolutely amazed. It is located in Belize, only around 70 miles away from Tikal.
It’s nearly as big as the main pyramid in Tikal (Tikal 47m/Xunantunich 40m) and the views are breath-taking, you can see both Belize and Guatemala from the top of the pyramid. I loved it and I would recommend everyone who are on their way to see Tikal, to go see other ruins, too. They are as beautiful and important as Tikal. Preferably see others first, fulfill your hunger for ruin-explorations and save some US$30 for something fun:)
Everyone should be like the winning frog – be deaf to what others say, follow your heart and do what You want to do. Surround yourself with positive people and you will be able to accomplish anything and everything. Take the most of each day and enjoy your life.