Thursday, 22 May 2008
Day 4 (Travel & Lamanai)
Well it was another early start with the alarm this time going off at 5:30 am. This was so that we could get breakfast at 6 am (pancakes and syrup) and then set off before 6:30.
We set off on time and headed toward Lamanai which is one of the larger Mayan cities that were in Belize. In fact it is one of the most uncovered and actually rebuilt in part so it was much easier to see the structures. The debate as to whether archeology is about recording things as they are and then returning them to nature, or to rebuild what is there, to what it was, so that tourists can see it will go on for ever but given that a number of these mayan sites went out of use 1300 years ago. The jungle has taken hold of them and between the tree roots and 80 inches of rain a year there is a fair amount of damage done to the original structure. However i don't mind if some are rebuilt often with the same stone, so that it is possible to see how amazing the buildings were.
We got to climb up the high temple which was a good 20-30m above the canopy of the forest and the views were incredible. Well in the sense that all you could see was the tree tops and the river to the side, but nothing else. Given that this building was nearly 2000 years old the achievement in building it was amazing. There are many temples and residential buildings on site and many are now visible. the fact that these cities were bigger than anything in Belize today is incredible.
Then we moved on again in the truck ( a lot of driving today) over to a community project to look after the black howler monkey. The idea is that visitors are shown round by local volunteer guides who know the area and take you on a walk seeing a number of monkeys who don't hide at the top of the trees but are so used to humans they are able to have their photos taken close up. The villagers promise not to cut down forest to be involved in the project and so the numbers of monkeys can increase. I am not entirely sure the benefits to the villagers is that great but the attempt to keep the deforestation at bay is commendable. So anyway we got to see a "family" of monkeys which played up nicely for the camera.
Eventually we made it to Chaa Creek a resort in the west of Belize and very nice it is. It would be better if you were a honeymooning couple and as i am not it is a bit weird but hey it is a multi star resort and it sure beats slumming it. I have 3 nights here on a slightly less demanding schedule so there is a possibility of relaxing, and given the 5 hours of driving today the chance for my spine to recover.
I have mentioned it but I will again, it is HOT. 100 degrees and humid is not the recipe for relaxation at all.