Thursday, March 24, 2016

I Am Ruined In Belize

After a long bus ride from Antigua I hit Flores, found Los Amigos hostel and had a cold beer waiting for me thanks to Tom (England 1) and Marcus (England 2). They had flown in earlier in the day and like the good lads they are knew that a 11 hour bus ride was going to kill me. We had a bit of a night as after 10:00 the party moved to the upstairs bar where there was free tequila. Oops. With a heavy head I was up and on the bus to Belize by 7 am, at my hostel by 1:00 and asleep in a hammock by 1:15.

No that is not why I was ruined in Belize. I do not know why but when I think of Belize I do not think of Mayan Ruins. To be sure they are here because 2500 years ago there was no Belize as It was all Mayan jungle. So let the bloodletting begin.

San Ignacio is a quiet village and my first taste of the Caribbean vibe in quite a while. A good starting place for Belize. What it is also close to are Mayan Ruins most notably Xunantunich and Cahal Pech.
I am staying at the  Chaltunha Hostel which is nice enough. The woman running the place, Windy, goes out of her way to help and she did my laundry. Two people, Nikki from San Fransisco and Anthony from Seattle were talking about going to the ruins in the morning and as you do I asked to tag along. Thirty minutes later we entered the Xunantunich Ruins Park. That is how traveling goes sometimes.

Grabbing a photo before the hoards of zombie cruise ship tourist arrive

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Sweat
I know very little about ancient ruins and try to take something away each time but the task to learn is massive. I have been to Chitzen Itza, The Pyramids of Giza, Machu Pichu and various other ruins and archeological sites around the world. Many of the Mayan and Inca sites were designed and built very similar with a main temple for worship and sacrifice, games courts, housing and food storage. These were thriving communities where people lived, worked, farmed and worshiped. They were battle hardened and battle ready.

Without trying to add anything intelligent on the subject I suggest you watch a great movie from 2006 called Apocalypto. It is very well done and gives a great account of a declining Mayan Civilization just as the Spanish were arriving on the continent.

Xunantunich was larger than I thought it would be and the ruins impressive to say the least. I managed to climb the main temple fighting my height vertigo and the steep steps along the way which showed up for the first time while hiking the Inca Trail. Thanks for nothing Incas.

A little armed soldier safety is always a welcome but nerve wracking site

We caught a cab back to town to water up and headed to Cahal Pech. It is near town and we walked there in about 45 minutes, up hill, in the heat and my freaking legs are still sore from Acatanango, seriously. This site was substantially smaller but none the less impressive. What made this site more enjoyable was there were no tourist hoards sweating and hacking while trying to lug their bodies up the temple steps. It was quiet and soothing and we just hung around, wandered about and enjoyed the site.

All told it was a good day. Tomorrow will be interesting as I head out to the Actun Tunichil Muknal, better known as the ATM, cave tour. Real Indiana Jones stuff including skeletal remains.

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