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Stompin’ on some Ancient Ruins: Lamanai, Belize

I can’t think of a better place to go for a honeymoon.  Here was our set of options after brainstorming (and my conclusions for each):

·      Napa Valley – The wine is great.  Lacks a certain element of “adventure”.

·      Hawaii – Can’t say anything bad about Hawaii, except it’s a bit cliché for a honeymoon

·      Mexico – I’ve been to those all-inclusive resorts and they breed a certain older, obese crowd of Capri-smoking, leathery-skinned American.  The exact crowd I’d like to get away from.  Not closer to.

 

… and then our woe’s were resolved as we received a trip to Belize as a wedding gift!  Belize!  Exactly!

 

I can’t personally imagine being anywhere else!  If you find yourself bored in Belize, double check your GPS.  You’re not in Belize if you’re bored.  Especially if you’re staying were we are staying, at Pedro’s Inn on San Pedro.  You’re welcomed by dogs at your arrival, and the rooms are highly affordable, starting at $75 BZ (which is less than $40 US – insane), and there’s a pizza place right there that is a lot more than a pizza place.  The pizza is incredible, and is the perfect place to go after a long day of adventure.  Hope you like Jaagermeister too, because the owner, Peter, is going to be there and if someone rings a bell that sends shots of Jaager around the bar, he’ll insist you have a shot (unless you have good reason not to).

 

The staff is ridiculously helpful.  They will arrange any trips you want to go on and not in some high-pressure office with marketing propoganda everywhere like you get at most resorts.  Just a young guy hanging out, ready to make whatever you want to do, happen.  We chose Lamanai, the ancient Mayan Ruins.

Lamanai, a Mayain Village with structures still standing that date back as early as 650 AD, accidentally translates to “submerged mosquito”, and you can blame the Brits for that, who occupied Belize some time after the 17th century and mispronounced the village, which is supposed to translate to “submerged crocodile”.

 

The journey out of San Pedro to the mainland was part of the fun.  We loaded into a small motor boat with a handful of other unsuspecting tourists and two Belizian’s; the driver, who looked a lot like P-Diddy and another rasta-mon.

 

We took off into the Caribbean and spent the next 30 minutes bouncing along off the waves, wondering what we have to look forward to.  Suddenly we were faced with a jungly scene that looked just like a scene from Lost, or something you’d see in National Geographic.  And instead of slowing down, our driver began to accelerate.   A look of confusion with a slight hint of fear came over everyone’s faces as we sped towards the land, when all of a sudden, we entered through a swampy meandering river that seemed barely wide enough for our boat.  Hardly any time for relief, though as our driver skillfully sped through, our boat banking as we turned right, then left, over and over again through the twisty swamp.

 

We stopped to look at some bats.  I couldn’t see the bats at first, but everyone else could.  Great.  “Hey mon, dey are right der!  In fronta yer face!  You are blind like a bat, mon!”.  Suddenly I’m being hazed by our rasta guide, but it was all in fun. Kind of.  Finally I saw the bats and we were on our way.

 

We arrived at a very cool village where the villagers,almost too authentic to be true, but they definitely were… were out working, kids were playing, no electricity or running water.  They boil water to bathe in, hunt for their own food; the real deal.

 

Many of them were selling wood-carved and polished bowls and we promised to buy some stuff on our way back.  For now, we need to check out these Mayan Ruins.

 

After a pretty fascinating bus ride through several villages, we arrived at Lamanai.  Like any historical landmark, you can expect to see gift shops and a museum.  The museum is small but pretty mind-blowing.  We couldn’t believe the stuff we saw, which included teeth from ancient mayans, and old pottery from 650-1500 AD.

 

Soon we were off with our guide, who taught us all about the vegetation, showed us a tree that rubber comes from, found a tarantula and teased it with a twig as it snapped at his fingers.  All entertaining at the least…

 

Before we knew it, we were faced with a cool boxy-“pyramid” temples.  The cool thing about the second temple that we saw, was a ball court where the ancient Mayans would play this game with a ball, sometimes with a human head.  The goal was to get this “ball” over to the other side of the court without it touching the ground and into some sort of hoop. They couldn’t use their hands.  But you better win, because if you lose, you’re dead.  Literally.  The winner was treated like a hero and the loser got to lose his head.  They trained their whole lives for this game.  Not a game I’ll be playing.

 

The largest of the temples provided an awesome panoramic view of the jungle to all who can make it to the top.  There was a rope available to tourists to hold onto as they make the steep ascent and descent from the top.  I’m still convinced that the rope isn’t necessary.  People clung to it for their lives.  But if the rope were not there, I feel that they’d simply walk up like any set of stairs.  Just pretend there is carpet on the stairs and you won’t need the rope.  The view was well worth the climb.

 

We also walked through a trail where we could hear theHollar Monkeys shouting at us, but the time we got to them, they had left.  We hoped to see them, and most people do, but not us.  Dang.  But there’s plenty of wildlife to be seen.  We saw a snake, vultures, several crocks.  Don’t call them alligators or the Rasta-Mon will be quick to correct you.

 

Our ride home was just as fun as our ride there, except we were pretty tired.  Back to Pedro’s Inn for a shower and some well deserved Pizza and icy cold Belikin Beer.



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