Thursday, 22 May 2008
Day 6 (ATM)
Well today we went on a trip called Actun Tunichil Munknal which is basically a visit to a cave the contains the burials of a number of Mayan sacrifices. It appears that the people sacrificed were of high status and prob volunteered as the promise of the reincarnation was worth it.
Anyway the trip started at 8 am - so normal service resumed there then, and a 90 min trip along the Belizian roads, half tarmaced (with huge bumps outside each school to slow you down, the rest on limestone road that are at best bumpy or as our guide said today free massage road. First we had to walk on a track though the jungle which three time crossed the river up to about knee high. On reaching the site we went straight in as we were first of a number of vans that were on the way. The trip starts outside the cave entry when you have to swim 10m to get into the cave entrance where turned on the lights on our safety helmets so we could see as it went pitch black fairly soon.
The trip to the start of the Mayan artifacts took maybe an hour as week walked, paddled, waded or swam along various parts of the cave, all of which was great fun if the water was a little cold. We finally reached the climb up to the section were the archeology was this involved some rock climbing, and then we took our shoes off to walk in socks so that we would be more careful and not tread on the pots all around the floor. Most of the pots that had been left as ritual gifts for the gods had been calcified into position and were not going to be moved for anything. This is rather weird as things that have been there over 1000 years appear to be part of the rock. There were also impressive stalagmites and stalactites.
There were many hundreds of pots and the site had been in use for many years 200-600AD. Finally we neared the end of the cave and saw the again calcified remains of a number of skeletons - manly skulls but there was one full skeleton at the end of the trail. The tour is not going to be available in the following years as they are going to try and stop visitors taking pictures and cut down on the numbers entering the cave and the length of time they stay in there, This will be a shame for the new tourists but given that tourists have a tendency to step on the pots and drop things on skulls then it is prob best access is limited.
Once the whole cave was seen then we had the fun job of going back though the cave to the entrance, I think i enjoyed the caving, climbing and swimming the most (i am too shallow). Anyway it was a great day out and well worth the trip. Tomorrow we leave here and head to Guatemala to see Tikal and their Mayan temples there, we are moving hotel again to stay at a lodge in tikal overnight and then off to Roberts Grove which should be good.