Adventures in Belize: Day 1

Having slept like humid babies, we awoke bright and early: at 5:30 am. Although the house didn’t have air conditioning, the fans on each level helped immensely. Plus, there’s just something about falling to sleep with the sound of palm trees swaying and howler monkeys screeching to really lull you.

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Waking up to sounds of chirping, the jungle alive around us and the pink sky slicing through our slumber, we were ready for a day of Myanmar ruins. After a lovely breakfast of eggs, black,retried beans, fried jack bread and freshly squeezed orange juice, our group wanted to first venture down to the Macal river. The river was only a few hundred feet from us down a windy path, but the thickness of the jungle prevented us from seeing it from the decks. Lucy’s daughter, Chloe, guided us down to the canoe dock, which really consisted of just a few rocks and a canoe that was ours to use. She warned us to be careful because there were crocodiles in the river. No swimming here for us!

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After the short hike to visit the river, we were ready to kick off the day, so we packed the car, our bags, filled our camel backs (it was going to reach 100 degrees!) and we’re off to Xunantunich. The drive out of the Eco village took about 30 minute with all of the bumps on the unpaved road, but we arrive to the river crossing over to the ruins by 9 am.

The ‘ferry’ looked like a bridge that hadn’t been finished to reach the other side and as we pulled on, the guards manually worked a wheel lever to take us to the other side. Once across, we drove a short ways to the entrance where we payed $10 Belize dollars ($5 US) to explore. A small museum explained the history of the temple and how the Mayans disappeared unexplainably around 1000 AD.

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The site consisted of several plazas with the largest, El Castillo, climbing high into the sky. Of course we had to climb it! Views overlooked Guatemala and we could see miles and miles. On the side of the structure an elaborate frieze had been reconstructed and had Chac, the rain God, in the center. We were glad we had gotten there early because as we were exciting after viewing all there was to see, there were droves of people entering. Pays to get up earlier!

The next Myan Ruin wasn’t far, it was closer to town and the older of the two. After a few wrong turns due to a GPS mishap, we came to Cahal Pech. Cahal Pech means ‘place of the ticks’ and consisted of a number of different sites in a condensed area. With tons of nooks and crannies, tunnels an staircases throughout and a smaller crowd (we were the only people there!) we all agreed this site was our favorite.

Lunch was up next and the guide book, along with Lucy, boasted about Benny’s, a local restaurant that served authentic Belizean cuisine. Grilled chicken for my mom, rice and beans with fried plantains for me, and Mike had a fish coconut curry soup with veggies and potatoes. Yum! The mayor of San Ignacio just happened to be sitting next to us and as he left introduced himself, asking us where we were from and how we liked Belize. Extremely nice man, who left us with his card in case we needed anything while here.

After lunch, and a quick stop to jump in the river) we headed back to our homestead and ventured onto the Macal River via canoe. It was glorious and the three of us took turns paddling while drinking in the river banks lush greenery. A slight breeze found its way to us on the water which made the trip even lovelier. The pontoon boat we had booked on for the following day passed us and we waved as the called to us, saying we were going the wrong way due to the current. Yelling back that we liked the challenge, we continued downstream to a small Rapids area. Here we turned and paddled back for a scrumptious dinner of white fish with loads of garlic paired with roasted corn and squash and coconut rice. Sleep came easy after the day we had, so we called it a night after dinner. What an amazing first day in Belize!

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