The road we travelled was once an ancient path through the rain forest: now it was bordered by fields that slid away to the horizon on one side and up into the Guatamalan foothills on the other.
At dawn it was deserted apart from a few cows and donkeys and the early morning mist which hung around the trees and fields like drunks at a railway station, drifting here and there then vanishing before the rising sun.
We arrived at the foothills of the Guatemalan Highlands from the small Mexican town of Palenque and were heading for the Mayan ruins of the same name. Crossing the boundary into the national park which had been set up to protect the ancient site, we passed through an archway that had been erected with the sole purpose, so it seemed, of giving the guards something to lean against.
As if out of respect for the still sleeping life in the surrounding jungle our minibus hushed past the trees and bushes lining the road.
It climbed slowly up the hill and turned sharp left at a sign indicating a nearby water-fall. The sign, like the guards, leaned against the nearest solid object: its flaking sullen paint annoyed at having to start work so early. Light filtered through the trees as our vehicle rolled quietly off the road that disappeared below earth and grass.
As we pulled ourselves out of the crowded cabin the first stirrings and cries of birds echoed around us: were their calls welcoming us or a warning to other life sleepily unaware of our presence? Standing around the minibus we stretched, yawned and shook ourselves out of languid dreams. A match flared: was it a small offering to the Gods whose presence we were about to share?
Were we to witness one of the secret rituals that legend held were still being practised in the darker recesses of these hills?
Could an ancient wise man still be following the last remaining drops of some convoluted lore which had dripped down the centuries despite the best attempts, and worst degredations, of the church? Then a cough as the match set someones cigarette smouldering - their first of the day - and my reverie was broken.
Around us the rain forest gradually came to life: wave after wave of invisible but highly audible insects mixed with the crunch of dry leaves as lizards darted here and there. The biggest of these, the stony grey Iguanas, seemed to resent our arriving so early in the morning. With us about basking was abandoned as safer and more distant stones were sought.
Walking slowly and quietly I passed through a gateway back into a time when these green hills sparkled with beautiful stone pyramids. Buildings built with grandeur and covered with friezes telling tales of kings and coronations; buildings banded with red and blue, yellow and green.
Inside plaster walls were covered in murals depicting battles, celebrations, sacrifices: testaments to a forgotten way of life.It is hard to imagine such beauty and elegance has been built on pain and blood and dedicated to Gods that demanded an ever increasing supply of warm and beating hearts.
Today, except in a few hidden places, it was all just bare stone.
This world, unlike its buildings, collapsed suddenly mysteriously falling back into the loving embrace of the jungle leaving no hint of the cataclysm which befell it. In my dreams I had imagined what these ruins would look like, how they would feel.
And how long had I waited for this moment? My mind whirled back to stories of ancient kingdoms and flying saucers, to flights of fancy which transported me through time and distance. Backwards, forwards, it was all part of the same circle and cycle and now 12 years later I was back, almost at the beginning.
Now I was close. Now I was almost within this world so foreign, so unknown, yet so familiar.
Soon the moment that could last only the merest amount of time would be upon me: and that instant of discovery, that moment of knowing, would have to last a lifetime.
As I moved closer and closer to this fallen city my eyes gazed on structures veiled in mist and mystery. And with my approach the last clinging wisps of water crawled away leaving only naked stone - the end and the beginning of my dreams: the giant pyramid, the Temple of the Inscriptions. But my pace began to slow as each step became heavier than the last.
My breathing took the rhythm of my footsteps.
I moved forward in perfect harmony with time - and time carried me forward to the Temple. Now the seconds stretched to minutes, the minutes into hours and finally I arrived at the beginning of my last step. Moving slowly my foot fought gravity to rise carrying me inch by inch towards my history.
And, when it finally reached the apex of its movement, I felt 2000 years of life rushing up from below surrounding me, freeing me from the earth and its chains. I floated onwards, upwards: old and new, stone and flesh, mind and spirit met and became one.
Now the seconds were hours and minutes a lifetime ago.
Then, silently, my last step was taken and I stood before the mighty temple: I had arrived.