RSS

Category Archives: Belize

Caye Caulker to New York

IMG_6777a

Caye Caulker

 

Nothing much. Woke Up for sunrise but it was cloudy. Walked in to the city for last glimpses of the Caribbean Sea with sun views and hanged out a little again tin the hammock at Tina’s in the Vibe Garden. Latter I walked all the way to the airport in at the Southern end of the island, a similar affair but lower key than the one in San Pedro and had a great breakfast in Tropical Hotel, bumping into Hans and Georg who were trying to make the 8:30 boat to Belize City. Bought some souvenirs and went back latter to the hotel, packed and left the place and sat on the dock for one hour looking at the sea.

The boat came at 9:50am and we left to Belize City where I jumped right away in a taxi. The taxi to the airport is listed as US$25, another rip off, but I was able to negotiated to $20 and I got there in about 20 minutes, bought more souvenirs and some good rum, and at 12:45 I sadly walked on the tarmac to the US Airways plane going to Charlotte, NC. Back to reality and to a very hectic Tuesday. Dreams don’t last.

Advertisements
 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 20, 2008 in Belize, Blog

 

Caye Caulker

IMG_6793

Caye Caulker

 

The day started with heavy winds that I could hear blowing all night and I realized that it would be far fetched a longer boat trip. It was even a little chilly in the morning when I woke up for sunrise, but eventually the heat of the day took over. I had my waffle breakfast with some papaya juice, at Miramar Hotel, and I kept checking with the agency I talked last night for the snorkeling tour, but they kept postponing the decision to do the tour because of the winds. The tour was supposed to start either at 8:00am to Turneffe or 10:30 am to Hol Chan. At 9:30 am it was obvious that nobody would go out for the Turneffe Atol, and I made up my mind to go for Hol Chan Marine Reserve, a day tour that costs B$85. Unfortunately, because of the bad weather only one agency, Carlos Tours went out and they were fully booked so I decided that I will have just a half day tour, in the Barrier Reef, off the coast of Caye Caulker at 2:00pm. This is a three hour tour and returns at 5:00pm for Bz45. This being said I walked all over Caye Caulker, on the main street and the side streets all the way to the South of the island where is the local airport served by the same companies like in San Pedro. I ate some fruit, check the boat for tomorrow, etc.

By midday I went to the north tip of the island, actually to the Split for a bath in the warm Caribbeans waters. Caye Caulker is much longer but in 2001 a hurricane split the island in two. The northern part of the island is inhabited by very few people and is basically no tourism At the split is a great bar held by some Jamaicans called the Lazy Lizard. It was such a pleasure just to stay inside the sea water. With so much time on my hands, latter I went for a lunch of tacos and a beer. At 1:30pm I went for the tour that was already fully booked with three girls from Denmark, a Norwegian guy, an English couple and a guy from New York. The coral is not so great in Caye Caulker Barrier Reef because overfishing and mass tourism in the area, and you can see lots of dead or washed out coral. Probably, people who are keen on snorkeling or diving may not find the tour interesting enough but for me was definitely satisfying.

The tour does three stops and last 3 hours. The first stop you swim in a guided tour for about 1 hour, and the guide points out to you various fish, or brings some shells out from the water. It is strenuous for people that are not swimming on a regular basis, and because of this they insisted everybody to use a floater. You swim on top of the coral, in the South Channel, an alley that goes inside the coral reef. It is extremely interesting and you see tons of fish. But the trip itself is strenuous because you have to follow the guide for about one hour and you came from there pretty exhausted. The second stop is at the shark and sting rays alley. The sharks, nurse sharks decided not to show up, but they are present in Hol Chan Marine reserve. But the sting rays came in very large numbers paving the bottom of the sea with their large silhouettes. The fishermen used to come and clean the fish in this alley throwing the rests in the sea, a great lunch for the sting rays, so now they are used to come when they hear the hum of the engine’s boat. So they came, in tens, if not close to one hundred and they were swimming, huge and gentle among our feet, mainly under us. At the beginning was kind of scary for everybody, because the animals are really big, but in time you figure out that they will not touch you with their tail so you start taking it lightly. The guide was able to catch one and to bring it out for everybody to be able to touch their velvety skin. But be aware of their poisonous sting….The third stop was at, what they call, The Coral Garden, and here you basically swim by yourself among corals for about 30 minutes. It is beautiful, except that the under current was very powerful today and demanded hard work in swimming.

On the boat the guide was waiting us with fruits and water and at 5:00pm we were at the dock. I jumped in a shower and went to see the sunset that was really nice today. I shot a time lapse of it and I stayed late on the dock watching some kids fishing, losing their baits but persistently and diligently continuing. From there I went directly to the Internet, for the daily ritual of email and postings and I went for dinner to Fran’s grill, right on the beach, for a barracuda steak. At dinner I met some great travelers. Hans and Georg from Munich were traveling for a 4 weeks. Hans, now retired, lived his teenage years in Argentina speaking now Spanish fluently, and latter traveled around the world like a genuine backpacker. I gave him lots of tips because he was going to Guatemala. Also, I met another couple, Emily and Simon, who just graduated from University in England and had an extremely ambitious plan to travel for a number of months if the money will last. They would cover Central America and fly to Ecuador from where they will cover parts of South America ending in Buenos Aires. Good trip! After dinner I did not want to go so quickly to the hotel ,in my last night in Belize and Caribbean and I went walking, eventually ending at the Lazy Lizard, the Jamaican hang out at the Split, where I bumped again into Emily and Simon who were with two traveler partners from Israel. I sit with all four for more chats and the Israelis just came back from the Blue Hole, and they were OK with it but obviously not so content. The trip costs $200/person and for somebody who has the Red Sea in their back door I think that any other snorkeling experience is not so great. At their recommendation we got a drink of rum, watermelon and lime that the barman never heard about. It was sour but OK, just another experience. Latter, around 11:30pm, I went reluctantly to the hotel.

 
Comments Off on Caye Caulker

Posted by on February 17, 2008 in Belize, Blog

 

Caye Ambergris

IMG_6861

Belize City

The Chinese owner of the hotel said that he will open the door at 6:00am so I decided to wake up around 5:45 and get the first available bus. The plan was to go with a company called Sartegna, that drops you at the swing bridge in Belize City. where you get on the boat to Caye Caulker, and you don’t have to walk from the main terminal to the boat. But I saw the Sartegna bus leaving just in front of me and did not want to stop to pick me up. I asked around and it turned out that another company named Cello had a bus leaving at 6:30am directly to the Swing Bridge. I took the bus for B$5 and it brought me in 1.5 hours to the Swing Bridge in Belize City.

The boat to Caye Caulker was leaving at 9:00am, I missed the one at 8:00am, so I had time to go for less than an hour in the downtown of Belize City. People, local and tourists mentioned to me that is pointless to visit the city, because it is not too much to see and is dangerous. But this place is really depressing. It is not the question that is nothing to see but, is dire and very weird, the entire city looking like bad parts of NY in the night during the 70s, people hanging out and hustling the newcomers. I walked Albert Street , close to the cathedral and I wanted to shoot some video but it was not too much to shoot even you strive. Also, it was extremely unpleasant to walk with a big camera around your neck. or tripod, and have all the eyes pointing at you. At one point I got hustled by some guys and I decided to split and I came earlier at the boat and left at 9:00 am to Caye Caulker. The boat ride, 45 minutes, is beautiful but not necessarily comfortable, the boat being packed to maximum capacity. In Caye Caulker, I went to Tina’s Backpacker, highly recommended by many travelers, but it did not have private rooms, so I was pointed to go further and after I tried several places I ended up in Miramar Hotel. There I finally found a room with private bathroom, what I was looking for, for $25 a night, but the owner showed me another room without bathroom, B$25, that it was so charming and I decided to take this one. Next I went to the first agency to do some investigations for a snorkeling tour, and the options were so numerous that I had to ponder upon them. They have a tour to Tunerriffe Atol, for Bz140, Hol Chan Marine Bz85 and half days trip for Bz45, and several others but all depend again of how many people they have.

IMG_6762

Caye Ambergris

It was already passed the 10:30am when the last tour goes , so I decided to go to Caye Ambergris and I caught the 11:20am boat for Bz15 one way and I left to San Pedro. San Pedro and Caye Ambergris, is Madona’s Isla Bonita, a song that you obviously hear walking in the island. It is way more built up that Caye Caulker and is large, but in three hours you can walk and see pretty much of it. I met a couple that lives in Seaview, Fire Island, NY one of my top spots on the planet. There are several nice resorts, like Ramos’s or Victoria. If you want to see Victoria you are better off to get a taxi because is pretty far south. The main road is not so nice as the beach front but it has lots of restaurants and many shops. I walked around for about three hours, shooting the nice palm trees from the beach. It looks like that was no massive hurricane here, because the palm trees look very good and extremely picturesque, way better that I saw in other islands. Walking in the city, I arrived in front of a store with a weird name, Tech Transylvania, It turned out that the owners were Romanians, highly educated, and moved there 4 years ago, from the western part of Romania, leaving a country that is not yet capable to offer enough positions for their University graduates students. Romania is still a first world country that is run by a third world country political class and business elite, whose main preoccupation is to get filthy rich and drive the most expensive cars like in African countries fresh after a new coup . Well, being in San Pedro is not bad at all, but still is a far cry from a European country. I had a long and very pleasant chat with them and I continued my tour of the island. I arrived at the airport, that serves the area on small Cessna planes, that for $70 can bring you directly to the International airport in Belize City. There are two companies operating: Tropic Air and Maya Islands. It is very cool to see this airport, and the very casual atmosphere. No metal detectors, no caring belts, nada. Just hop and go. From there I walked on the beach all the way to Victoria, a long and relatively arduous walk but very pleasant, admiring the palapas that are at the end of the docks and the beautiful views. Victoria is a nice complex, very shishi, with manicured lawns and nice cabanas and bars. Because I walked so far, I missed two boats and I caught a last boat to Caye Caulker that was leaving at 4:30pm. I chat meanwhile with a Canadian that lived there for 12 years, involved in a lot of local businesses, cellphone and used books, apparently all very successful. The atmosphere was great, like summer afternoons in Fire Island.

IMG_6779

Caye Caulker

The boat ride is half hour and I arrived in Caye Caulker at 5:00pm , took a shower and jumped to see the sunset. latter I went to have a great dinner of Brazilian Pork at Habaneros and went to search for internet and international phone. I could not get a phone, but probably they exist somewhere, but I was surprise at the cost of the internet, at par with all the other high prices. In Guatemala the internet access is between $0.50-1.25/hour and here, in Caye Caulker was $7-9/hour, and they were charging by the minute if you go for more. I posted partially my story and did my email and went for a walk to both parts of the town. The town is small and if you strive you can walk the entire island in 30 minutes, and the center in less than 15 minutes. At 8:00 pm I went to the agency for the next day trip, and they told me that they may have both Turneffe and the special tour to the reserve, and I should come next morning at 8:00am. I browsed the stalls that are like a night market, and sell beads and jeweleries, paintings and crafts and I went to the Seaside Cabanas, that they rent for $120/night, not bad at all for the peak month of February, where I had some pinacoladas, chatting with some guy from Wisconsin who was leaving the next day back home.

 
Comments Off on Caye Ambergris

Posted by on February 16, 2008 in Belize, Blog

 

Lamanai

IMG_6687

Orange Walk

This hotel I stay in Akihito is owned by two Chinese, like several businesses in Orange Walk. The owner proudly showed me last night his farm of 40 acres that he just bought that has in its middle a cenote. There are very few people here in Belize, about 300000 people, just a third of the population that existed in the Maya time. What is funny about this hotel is the fact that it looks that was built by a architect for jails. It is very clean, everything is great but it looks like you are in a cell of a jail, no mater what room you get. Also, like many hotels in Orange Walk has a room near the lobby with slot machines. As a mater of fact there are lots of this type of casinos, here in the city. Hotel and casino, like in Vegas! Last night my room was to the front and was noisy and this morning I changed it. I went for breakfast again to Juanita, because I could not find other restaurants. There are some restaurants but the city is kind of a dive and is hard to find things in it. The breakfast was very good with grapefruit juice and a great omelet. I went after that to Jungle River Tours, the agency that runs the tours to Lamanai and I paid for the tour that I reserved last night. The tour costs US$40, including lunch, plus another US$5 the entrance to the site. All the tours in Belize are expensive, the country moving his main source of income from sugar to tourism that is very well fleeced. Finally, at 9:00am a lady came to pick me up, I did not know if it was her supposed to pick me up or somebody else, and brought me to Lamanai Retreat, the place from where the boats leave. The boat was not there and I waited for 10 minutes. It came with three other people inside, two ladies from Canada and one guy, Tony, from Barcelona, with whom I had a long and great conversation all day. Tony has a photo/video production and services company in Barcelona and now, the season being slow, he was traveling for 3 months in Central America. Gilberto, the pilot of the boat took us to see some nature till the other tourists came, and we returned to pick up a large group of 15 people that came from Corazal, for a day trip. It proved that the guys were mostly Russians and not very sociable.

IMG_6646

Lamanai

We left on the river trip that brings you eventually, after 90 minutes to Lamanai ruins. The river trip was really great, because Gilberto continually stopped and showed us baby crocodiles, mid size crocodiles and even extremely large ones. Also, egrets, the Jesus bird and iguanas hanging in the tree. It was extremely interesting also to see , from afar, the Mennonite community, a group of Germans, similar in clothing, habits and religion with the Amish from the USA, settled here in the 50s , that are still the largest producers of vegetables in the country. Gilberto said that there are of three branches: the very traditional ones that do not use anything modern, no electricity or machinery, etc., the Baptist Mennonites that use electricity only for work but no in homes and some tractors and boats and the progressive ones that came from Ottawa, Canada. They do not serve in military, do not want to vote and till the independence in 1981 they did not pay taxes. They are extremely hard working and they were brought here by the British government and given the best land, and they are respected by people in Belize. They represent 3% of the population and produce more than 60% of the vegetable production in the country. On the street they wear some particular hats and the old ones have beards and they look like coming from old Holland’s paintings.The river where we took the tour is called the New River, but he Maya called “the river of the foreigner”, a prediction that proved to be true. There are many boats doing the tour that is one of the major attractions in Belize. We also saw people fishing, and a boat came very close to show us the catch, Gilberto being careful because you don’t know if the guys do not hide a gun to rob the travelers, a trick that I heard happening in some other countries. We rode the river that meanders and divides extremely spectacular, for 90 minutes and we arrived in Lamanai site, going directly for lunch. Here I had a pleasant surprise because in all the other tours in Belize, the lunch was a sandwich and if you were lucky a bottle of water, but here they prepared chicken with potatoes, salad and salsa, spicy chips and they had lots of soft drinks kept in the cooler. Lamanai, like all the other sites was very large 4.5 square km but very little was excavated and only three locations were uncovered. It is obviously that here they wait for a sponsorship to go further. The ruins are nice and well done, showing the tradition of the Maya, to demolish or cover the house of the old price/king when he dies and build new one on top, the result being that all the houses are well off the ground accessible by a flight of steps. You could see at the Temple of the Mask, the first location, three levels of steps showing perfectly, and he said that there were probably more underground. Also, it was an impressive head of an Olmec, in situ, but it was not covered in fiber glass like in Caracol. Impressive and huge, it occupies an entire wall. The next temple was also the largest, being the third pre-classical building as a height in Belize, 125 ft. The building is impressive and it has three levels accessible by very steep steps. The fun part when we were there was that the howling monkeys started to howl, protesting that another group of monkeys, named patrol, came in their territory. It is funny to see how small they are and what a horrific sound they make, that you think that is a great jaguar around. This was great because in Tikal, they howl only in the morning at sunrise, defining their territory for the day and later on is hard to wake them up.

We left at 2:00pm and Gilberto drove very fast and dropped the guys from Corazal for a direct bus and continued with the rest of us and showed us more crocodiles and iguanas. Right before I arrived, a swift move made my sunglasses to break and to fly into the river, an offer to the Maya river of the foreigners. We arrived at 4:00pm and I had a final chat with Tony, about his company and FlyingMonk and drank some great papaya juice till around 5:00pm. He had to catch a bus to Chetumal , Mexico and I wanted to shoot a litle more in Orange Walk, if it is something to be shot, and I went to the church and on some streets, getting lost somewhere on the back streets. I found eventually my way to the hotel and tried to post this blog in the hotel computer that yesterday did not want to collaborate. The trip was OK but the ruins of Lamanai after you saw Copan, Tikal and Caracol are disappointing. However the ride on the river was worth it, being different than Rio Dulce. I went to look for dinner in Caye Caulker Bar and Grill but I found out that it got closed a while ago, so I ended up at Lee’s Chinese restaurant, where I had a lobster ceviche and a beer. There are lots of Chinese restaurants in Orange Walk and when I asked the lady from my hotel, she said that this is a country where is easy to come. The population is very low, lots of land and opportunities. Belize is a very young country, just 26 year old and you can tell it. It has a melange of population, of blacks, Hispanics and many Asians. The language is English but the largest majority. more than 53%, is of Spanish-language descent, that entices you to address people in Spanish and not in English. They speak a very relative English and they speak Creole with less Spanish along the coast. There are blacks looking like in North America, and as a result there are several stores on the main road selling lots of white sneakers. It is a country that tries to base its economy on tourism, so they developed lots of eco-lodges and eco-resorts, but it is not so developed, the roads are terrible and it looks that many thins do not work right. Besides, you have a large black population that, as our guide mentioned today, is waiting for the government subsidies. As a result, the hard working Chinese are prospering, creating successful business and monopolizing, like here in Orange Walk , the restaurant business. The stores are held by several Indians. In spite of all these, the prices are very high, in restaurants and stores, everything being way more expensive than in Guatemala or Mexico, at lower quality levels. The trips are outrageously expensive for a country so poorly developed, being at par with similar trips in the USA or even more. The food is expensive, the prices for Chinese food in the Lee’s being higher or at least equal with prices in NY. And more than anything the country, as I encountered till now, is devoid of the vibrant spirit, Guatemala had. In Guatemala, the Maya culture is everywhere, ancient or contemporary. The women that are weaving, the markets, the village life is authentic and rooted in a tradition that did not fade in time and under various occupations. The Maya-Catholicism, so ingrained in the locals is another one of these traits. Everything in Guatemala is flamboyant and you don’t need tours because, the tours are part of the day to day life when you go to a large market. You have the feeling of a culture that is loomed inside a cocoon and no force can rip it apart. In Belize, is the opposite: The trips are the core of the day. Belize is famous for diving and people come here for this. The prices are outrageous but are OK as long as the services provided are fine. Yes, all the trips are exquisite and extremely informative, well done and professionally crafted, but the experience ends when you are dropped at your hotel. It is missing the immersion in the country’s culture and it looks more like a theme park. No interaction and even if you have it, you have the feeling that this population is here not because it belongs but because it happened to be here. So, if it were to compare, the proportion would be exactly the one from the time I spent in my trip 80-20% between Guatemala and Belize.

 
Comments Off on Lamanai

Posted by on February 15, 2008 in Belize, Blog

 

Actun Tunichil Muknal

IMG_6514

Actun Tunichil Muknal – cave entrance

The today trip was more than a regular trip, but it was an experience that hardly you can match. After the breakfast at Hanna restaurant and the successful change of money in Belizean $, I finished my blogs and I left from St Ignatio, with all my luggage, with a minibus in the trip. The minibus stopped to a resort to pick up two other persons, and we left for 30 minutes of paved road, followed by another 30-45 minutes of dirt road on a derivation road from Teakettle Village. We arrived at the parking place for this trip and, we got prepared to leave in the hike that would bring us to the cave. I changed the group trying to return earlier because my plan was to catch a bus from the paved road to Belize City and from there another bus to Orange Walk, a city in the North.

From the parking place you leave in a hike of about 45 minutes in the tropical forest, seeing all sorts of plants, some friendly and some not, crossing through the river three times and getting wet The dress code is bathing suit with a T shirt and sneakers or tight sandals. After 45 minutes we arrived at the entrance of the cave, and Orlando the guide prepared the helmets and the head lights to get inside. The entrance is done through a 12 feet deep pool that you have to swim across, a very shot swim of less than a minute. Inside the cave stalactites and stalagmites welcome you. This cave was, together with 10 other in the region, the place where the Mayas made human sacrifices and blood letting between 800-900AD, in a very dire period for their empire. The empire was obviously decaying and they tried this last resort to make the Gods have mercy and find a solution for the problems they encountered and that eventually brought their demise. At the entrance is a formation that resembles a Maya king. But what is the most interesting is the fact that you have to walk in this cave on the stream of a subterranean river, and you are most of the time in water to your knees, sometimes to your chest, but most of the time to your waist. We walked and scrambled the stones, and climbed subterranean waterfalls, for about one hour, meanwhile admiring the fantastic formation of limestone that the water shaped. Bats were occasionally wakened up by our foray and we kept walking in line inside the cave. If the water was too deep we could swim in the underground pools. This cave and many others represented for the Maya, the underworlds, or Xibalba. The roots of La Ceiba, their national tree, having the roots in this underworld and the branches holding the sky. After about 45 minutes of walking we took the shoes off and we put just some socks, and got up in the higher level caves where the rituals were practiced. Lots of old jars were scattered all around being marked by the archaeologist not to be touched. Fire pits could be seen where Maya were doing purification. That could be done in two ways: either with the dripping water from the stalactite that was collected in these jars, a practice that I saw it also in Vietnam, or with smoke that was obtained by burning their own donated blood in ceremonies of blood letting. The blood was latter put on fire using also copal as incense for making smoke that was rising to the Gods for results. This ceremony was conducted by a shaman, a preserver of the Maya civilization. From the beginning of the upper floors you could see jars all over but the more you advanced you realized that there were jars all over. Most of them were broken because after the ceremony that was lasting 6-7 days all the vases were broken. Latter on , we advanced to the cathedral, that represents the 5th level, pout of the 9 level of the Xibalba, But the counting was done: 4 levels going in, the 5th and the same 4 levels going out, makes 9. The heaven had 13 levels in Maya tradition. The cathedral was majestic; a huge room full of broken or intact jars all over with remarkable sparky stalactites and columns. At the back of the cathedral was an altar where it was in the middle the symbol of corn that was used in the ceremonies and where the blood letting was done. Latter started to show up the skeletons. First a male, followed by other and finishing in the crypt shaped room of the cave, where it was the woman-shaman that is presumed that performed the rituals. Also, there could be found two skeletons of children, 8 and 12 months old. The archaeologists assume that the regular blood letting did not succeed and they started the sacrifices, to be sacrificed being the highest honor. The name of the cave is given from this space where the woman shaman body was found. After we saw everything we started to return, getting off from the upper dry area, and after getting the shoes on, starting again the hike in the river back to the entrance where we swim again the pool. The cave has 3.5 miles but old artifacts were found only in the area we visited. In total we hikes in the water and inside about 0.5 miles and the entire tour was about 3 hours inside. The cave was discovered in the 80s and it was heavily searched by archaeologists, existing also a film made by Nat Geo about it. This is the reason that is visit able by people, but I think in no other place in the world you can walk and almost touch so old artifacts that are in situ in a cave.

At the base camp, that was the old archaeological camp, we got somehow dry and we ate our lunches included in the trip. After that we started to hike back the 45 minutes walk we did before fording the water three times. At the parking I was moved to another minibus that dropped me at 3:30 at the crossing with the paved road to wait for the bus to Belize City. The bus came in 15 minutes and I got in and arrived in Belize City at 5:50pm for B$4. The Orange Walk bus was right near and I jumped into it and left right away, and it brought me in 1.5 hours for B$5 to Orange Walk. Here I got a room in Hotel Ackiniko, owned by some Chinese, that apparently have lots of businesses in this town and I tried to send an email from their email but it did not work. So I went quickly and I ate at Juanita , a local dive with good food, and tried email and blog again from another place.

 
Comments Off on Actun Tunichil Muknal

Posted by on February 14, 2008 in Belize, Blog

 

Caracol, Belize

IMG_6437

Caracol

I got my breakfast of banana shake and pancakes at Martha’s and I came to the agency at 7:15am, waiting for the bus at 7:30am. I played at the internet a little and I was on my way with a minibus to Caracol, the largest Maya site in Belize, famous for its observatory. There were 3 more people in the minibus, two Canadians from Alberta, Bruce and Jilliane, and a guy, Ed, from Raleigh, NC.

The road to Caracol is extremely bad and very long. Because of this there were attacks on the road, form Guatemalan gangs coming over the border, at its nearest point, the road being at 8 miles to the border. And because Guatemala considers Belize part of it and they hate each others is no extradition treaty for criminals. Sergio, the driver and guide, told us many stories about the past attacks that happened about 2 years ago, escaping one of them by just by a hair. As a result the Belize officials took note and now from a security point where we had to stop, we traveled in convoy all the cars together, about 4 of them, followed by a car with two soldiers with guns. The road is beautiful, through pine trees, that unfortunately was attacked by a beetle infestation in 1998 and destroyed 60% of the trees that were standing only with their trunks in the air like after a big fire. After that we traveled more through tropical forest, stopping first in a village San Antonio, close to San Ignation and latter to the security point. Considering the time for picking up the other passengers and with all the stops the entire road took about 3 hours and we entered Caracol’s gate at 10:30am. Louis took us in a tour, explaining about plants and trees, the curative features of some of the plants we saw and about Maya, Caracol and demise of the civilization. Great stories!

Caracol was a great center of power that was able to defeat and conquer Tikal and Naranjo around 600AD. It is the largest city in those times, and its population at its peak was probably 150000 people, double than the present population of Belize City. But was astounded us the most where the monumental buildings that do not have a par. There are one of the most impressive monuments I saw, especially Caana translated as the Sky Palace, the main palace, observatory, and administrative building. Caracol, that means snail in Spanish, is uncovered, like all the other sites in Mexico, and its plazas are spectacular. In spite of being the largest site , few mounds were cleaned and it has only 4 plazas to be visited. The most spectacular is the one that contains Caana, one of the most complex buildings, if not the most complex buildings I saw in Maya world. The Sky palace is located in a symmetrical square with buildings on both sides and a mound , partially excavated in front. The next square, that was also the most important is the one containing on one side the Palace of the Wooden lintels facing the famous observatory, the place were the priests were making decisions about the crops and such based on the lunar calendar. We climbed all on them, because here you can and saw many other places, in total about 4 complexes in about 2 hours. At 1:15 pm we were back at the entrance, had the lunch that the guides are bringing and took a stroll inside the museum. At 2:00 pm all the cars had to leave, escorted by the same police car with guns. So you cannot stay latter than 2:00pm. On the way back we stopped in two other locations. The first stop was at a magnificent cave that was formed on Rio Frio. The river passes inside this cave full of stalactites and smelling of bat dung. We stayed there 20 minutes and in ten more minutes we stopped again at the pools formed by Rio On, a flat area in the river where you can bath or just admire the river. We stayed there 45 minutes and we got into the water.

IMG_6407

St Ignacio

At 5:15pm we arrived back to San Ignacio where I came directly here at the Internet provided by Pacz Tours, free with trip purchase and I wrote for 3 hours the past blogs. I bought my ticket for tomorrow trip to the ATM cave, an interesting experience and rated as the best thing that you can do in Belize. I tried to eat something after these long blogs but many of the restaurants were closed so I went again to Serendib, where I got a great spicy dish of shrimps. In the restaurant I bumped into Ed, who is a criminal lawyer in NC, with whom I chat about trips and let him go because he was catching a bus at 6:30 to Belize and latter a boat to Caye Caulker, but we planned to meet in the Caye.

 
Comments Off on Caracol, Belize

Posted by on February 13, 2008 in Belize, Blog