I entered a contest with World Nomads a month ago where I had to write about a special travel experience for the chance to win a travel writing workshop in San Francisco with a Lonely Planet writer and $3000 to create and travel your own 10 day US road trip. I didn’t win so I wanted to share my story with you guys. It is a lot shorter than what I would usually write to fit the 2500 character guidelines. I hope you like it.
We hadn’t realised that it was a sacred day when we set out for the ruins of Tikal.
The date was 12th December 2012, a sacred date for many cultures and believed to be good luck.
I felt indifferent. I was fatigued from traveling at a fast pace over the preceding months. I couldn’t muster the spark of excitement that I felt when we arrived at the jungle-covered ruins of Palenque a month earlier.
My spark of wanderlust was flickering dangerously low.
We entered a world of dense jungle. Giant Ceiba trees towered over us, stretching their chunky arms to the heavens. Firmly ensconced in the thick vegetation was a stone Temple covered in moss.
A group dressed in white were standing in a circle. Their spiritual leader was reciting something in Spanish and the words were repeated back to him in a droning chant. I heard a voice behind me say that they were praying for rain. The sky was blue and there were no clouds in sight.
Within 20 minutes of leaving the Temple the heavens opened.
Finding a small overhang in the nearby ruins we threw ourselves under it, joining a local groundsman who had already sought shelter there. Over the next five minutes more people joined us.
Crammed together in a small space, the rain continued to rage around us. Our need to stay dry bound us together but there was also an unmistakable feeling of connection between us.
One couple announced that they were going to marry themselves at 12.12pm, a sacred time on this sacred date.
As the time crept closer, the rain wasn’t showing any sign of easing. The couple bid us farewell and braved the extraordinary weather to find a private shelter to perform their marriage.
Determined to make it to the tallest temple in Tikal we surrendered ourselves to the elements a short time later.
Rivers of muddy water rushed down the trail as we sprinted to the Temple, our feet pounding the soaked earth.
Rickety wooden stairs took us above the ancient jungle. The cleansing rain washed over my body and a feeling of exhilaration coursed through me as I took in the view from the top of the temple. There was definitely magic here.
The spark of wanderlust inside me was reignited and burning brightly.