Chapter 11Security

¡Señor! ¡Señor! ¡Señor!

Emerging from behind a pile of rubble, having just swung down from a semi-prostrate ramón nut tree (Brosimum alicastrum), I was mid-selfie when a bellowing baritone brashly overtook the still breeze.

The agitated words were undeniably Spanish, but I was too preoccupied with the grandeur of the moment to attempt a translation.

Que? Como?!” I returned with a perfunctory cry, still focused solely on capturing the panoramas—if no longer the stillness—that the outcrop provided. After all, this was Tikal, Guatemala, famed pre-Columbian Maya metropolis and UNESCO World Heritage Site—and some squawker was not about to ruin my ruins!

Pocketing the camera and reeling around to more bellows, I at last saw the gentleman, a miniature security guard who had worked up quite a sweat to summit the pyramid, apparently in haste. Standing behind the security cordon—the chain-link fence to which he was wildly gesticulating—the guard's guttural screeches began to draw a congregation of onlookers.

As I clambered over, sacrificing vistas to confront the commotion, the situation grew somewhat clearer. I stood on rough, precarious terrain, while the guard and tourists stood on smooth, hewn stone. Yes, there were clear boundary markings at the top of Temple IV but, having scampered up the impassable backside, how was I to know I was out of bounds?

Reaching for what I assumed only could be a concealed machete, the guard pulled a radio from his hip, alerting ...

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