Where in the World is Jillo?

GUATEMALA – Land of the Mayans

As everyone knows 12-12-12 has passed as has 12-21-12, the day on which the Mayan calendar stopped. There were those who said the world was ending because the Mayans knew something we didn’t. Well, guess what, they didn’t SAY the world was ending, they just stopped their calendar there.
My friend, Finbarr orchestrated a tour to Guatemala for 12-12-12 and yes I was on it. My brother has also been to Guatemala and said he and his wife loved it. So, there you have it, I wanted to know the truth about this ending of the calendar and so I went to the source to find out the answers.
I met my friend, Angela (whom I’d met on my France trip) in Houston and off we went to Guatemala where everyone said there’d be soldiers with machine guns everywhere and wasn’t I scared.  No, I wasn’t scared and the whole time I was there I only saw six different soldiers or police with guns and they were not threatening. The American news media sensationalizes everything. The people were friendly and the countryside was very lovely.
We stayed in the jungle of Tikal near the famous Mayan pyramids. Our guide, Antonio was very knowledgeable. His father discovered one of the later pyramids, I believe it was temple VI. In fact, the lodge we stayed at in the jungle was owned by his family.  He walked us through the jungle (the area we were in was reforested in the last 25 years on its own) and explained how the temples were uncovered and showed us how the steps looked originally and now restored. There are many mounds everywhere that we actually saw from the air on our way in. Some are burial mounds and some are dwelling places and some are temples. The people have left them covered because it takes so much money and time to excavate them that they are better left covered so they do not deteriorate. Antonio took us on a path through the jungle and told us about the war in his country and how things changed. There were ruins of trucks and jeeps from the war in the reforested jungle. He showed us where there had been a building and other things 25 years ago and now the jungle has reclaimed itself.
    Antonio talked about the drug cartels and how it had changed their country. He said that people were forced to tell things about others or have their whole families murdered. That brings us to the Mayan shamans, most of whom are not visible because they would be killed to squelch the spirituality of the Mayan people. We were fortunate to meet two different shamans who did ceremonies for us, one on the Mountain of Gold where no “gringos” have ever been allowed to be a part of the Mayan ceremony. Two spiritual leaders from Guatemala worked for six months to set this up for us. More on that later.
Day 2
This morning six of us got up at 4:30 a.m. to walk through the jungle in the dark to one of the main pyramid temples to watch the sunrise. I carried a flashlight and we hobbled over roots and stones to the very high wooden stairway that led us almost to the top and there we climbed onto the rock steps that went all the way across the pyramid at the top. There were a lot of people there already when we got there.
We sat in silence in the dark and looked over the top of the jungle and waited. Finbarr pointed out what I thought was water, he said it was fog. Later, Antonio said that where the fog was the water used to be years ago. It was amazing sitting there in silence waiting for the sun. As it began to get light, the howler monkeys started. Their roars echoed over the top of the jungle from one part to the next. We had observed the howler monkeys swinging through the trees the day before. It was fantastic being right there in the midst of the jungle and the sights and sound. As it got lighter we began to observe toucan birds in the tree tops. How beautiful they were.
Finally Finbarr leaned over and said to start taking pictures. The last pictures showed the sun directly above one of the main temples, just the way they’d built it to showcase the winter solstice. Indescribably beautiful! It was like a huge golden burst of love. Because I had complained about having to get up so early to come see the sunrise, Finbarr asked me if it was worth it. He knew the answer from the look on my face.
We walked back down the stairs and through part of the jungle to one of the temples. Here a local shaman did a ceremony before we returned to the lodge for breakfast. It was funny, well actually annoying, as four or five people were on top of this pyramid and recording for something. The guy must have thought he was important as he was talking about 2012 but then he said to the others, “Be quiet, they are doing a ceremony.” And then he proceeded to talk really loud. Not very respectful we decided and he really had no idea what 2012 was all about.
The same ones who got up to go see the sunrise, except for Finbarr, all loaded up in a van and went to another part of the jungle after breakfast to go zip lining. It was on my “lifetime list” and I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Two young men, one who had helped build the line, were our guides. They were so much fun and took pictures for us while they were zipping along. The first line we were all just getting used to how we were to do it.
By the second line, Karina decided to do it upside down like one of the guides She probably weighs 90 lbs. soaking wet so it was a blast to watch her go fast down the line.
By the time we got to the next line, everyone wanted to do something. My time came and I “flew.” When you fly, you let go with your feet and hands and are only hanging in the harness. One of the guides was behind me so he could stop me when I got to the tree, as I was the first one on that line. They had to tell me several times to let go with my last hand as it was a little strange hanging over the jungle like that before I took off. I want to do it again only higher and faster!
On the last run the guy at the back bounced us up and down on the line after we started. That was really fun!
All in all the five of us had a bonding experience we won’t soon forget. It was a very fulfilling day for all of us. We didn’t ask about the others’ afternoon, we figured they took naps.

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