Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Mayans Aren't Dead, They Just Moved South

We were all very interested in seeing some Mayan Ruins, of which Belize has a huge number. Originally, we wanted to travel into Guatemala to see the ruins there, but that one day trip would have cost us $600US, and we didn't want to spend that much on one trip. So, we sent an e-mail to Ocean Adventures, and asked them to book us on their Lamanai Jungle/Mayan Ruins Tour, as one of the blogs we read indicated that Lamanai (Lat=17.75, Long=-88.65) was one of the best.

This is a full-day trip. It starts at 7:00 am, and we got back about 5:10 pm. They served breakfast, lunch, beer, rum punch, soft drinks, and water.

The trip was marvelous! There are three legs of travel to get to the Lamanai ruins. First is a boat trip along the reef and across the bay to the mainland. During that phase they served a breakfast of Johnny Cakes, pineapple juice, fruit, and I forget what else. This was where we saw the crocodile, and the camouflaged bats.

The second leg of the trip was a bus ride from the little town of Bomba to the start of the river trip up to Lamanai. It was a little bumpy and had lots of curves and turns. When we asked the bus driver what he did while we were visiting the ruins, he said "I recover from the drive." However, the drive was very interesting; we passed jungle, sugar cane farms, cattle ranches, and small communities that are dotted here and there about the country.

The third leg was a fantastic ride up a river. The river curves and curls, gets wide and narrow, and the trip winds its way up to the Lamanai site. On the river we saw a Mayan (yes, there are still Mayans living in Belize, they just don't live in the ruins) rowing a dugout canoe with a load of wood. There was also a large Mennonite community by which we set our engine to a slow, quiet speed and kind of tiptoed.

When we got to Lamanai, we had lunch under a roofed, open-air picnic spot. The lunch was rice-and-beans, chicken, Johnny Cakes, Belikin Beer, soft drinks, and water, chips, hummus, and salsa. We had to be careful of the salsa, it was VERY VERY hot with a type of pepper that is locally grown.

Next was a stop at the museum and a short lecture on what to expect, and then we toured the ruins.

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