they were beyond excited when we announced the trip! tikal is a place that they have all heard of, but couldn't imagine having the chance to go to. its not at all like going to the city or to the beach (excursions we have done)... its an 11 hour drive each way, up into the northern jungle of guatemala. a tough trip, but an amazingly beautiful place.
the last couple hours of the drive moves into dense rainforest. and once you enter the national park of tikal, the monkeys swinging freely from trees is almost as breathtaking as the massive mayan temples - some of which date back as far as before Christ! the rise of this area would become the world-power of the mayan region politically, economically, and militarily for the next 800-900 years.
remarkably, the temples and ruins became covered and swallowed up by the rainforest for nearly 1,000 years after that, only to recently (within the last 100 years or so) be discovered again. after a huge excavation project, some of the ruins have been cleared out and huge archeological finds have been discovered. although much of the tikal ruins remain underground, what has already been unearthed is unthinkably daunting.
in 1977, george lucas used tikal as a site for some of the filming of the original star wars. mel gibson's apocalypto also filmed at tikal, and several of the tikal temples were recreated off-site for other scenes.
because of his unique love of guatemalan history, we also invited our friend dr. carlos to come along on the trip. it turned out to be a very special trip for the good doc, but not because of the mayan ruins or the history of tikal! God spoke to his heart deeply while we were there, and we are excited to begin teaching him more of the bible and helping disciple him, his family, and marriage, in a new direction!