Thursday, July 21, 2011

Travel Thursday? (did you know geckos make a noise?)

Looks like the once a week thing is proving to be difficult. Oh well. It's Thursday, and I'm here to tell you all about our third day in Belize!!

Again, going off of what is written in our travel journal (this time I'm the writer)

...6/21/11 (summer solstice)

0643: Jonathan's alarm went off, and we wondered if we hit snooze or if the phones are just acting weird now that we're in another country. Note to self: next time bring an alarm clock or watch! Anyway, no is our first big the Mayan Ruins of Caracol! We took turns sleepily freshening up and then headed off to breakfast at 20 after 7. Oh was raining! I woke up at 4:30am to the sound of thunder and slept rather fitfully with the sounds of the rain until we got up. Anyway, we found an umbrella in the closet and trotted off to breakfast.

Breakfast today was the same option as yesterday, so fo course I chose the French Toast. J picked the Big Belly, which included eggs cooked to order, corn fryjacks and beans, sausage, plantains...and if there was something else I can't remember.

Oh wait, backtrack. Last night we noticed a HUGE cockroach-like beetle had taken up residence over the eave of our front door. It was still there in the morning!

gross giant bug.

Ok, so we ate breakfast and watched the birds eat bread that was left for them out in the rain. Then we headed back to the room to pack up (we bought ponchos for the rain just in case), and filled our hiking backpack with necessities (water, sunblock bug spray, etc.)

We met Greg (George's son), Kristen (Greg's girlfriend), and Freddie  (our driver) at the front of the inn, handed Misael (the inn...manager?) our room key, and piled into the van to begin our 1.5ish hour drive to Caracol!

J and I had a great time getting to know Greg and Kristen. Turns out they each just finished their freshman year at their respective schools. They grew up together in Wisconsin. They like rock climbing and are both studying some kind of environmental sciences. Conversing with them made the road to Caracol fly by.

Soon, we arrived at a military base, where we all had to get out and sign in. The military keeps track of how many people visit Caracol and where they are from. They also provide guard services to tourists at Caracol as the Guatemalan bandits took to robbing tourists in Belize 8 or 10 years ago.

military base
On the way to Caracol, we stopped at Rio Frio Cave, a huge cave (well you can see both ends open to daylight at once, but it was a HUGE room). There was a stream running through it and steps carved into the limestone. There were many stalactites, and a crack running along the ceiling; damage caused by a large earthquake. Freddie guided our steps with his flashlight, cautioning us about a sinkhole that you'd have no idea was there if you didn't know about it. We felt very safe with Freddie as our guide, keeping us away from danger!

Rio Frio Cave

Greg, Kristen, Myself, Jonathan

After wandering on the shore of the stream for a few minutes, we headed back to the van and to Caracol. It took another while of bumpy road until we got to the paved part that leads to Caracol. Apparently, right where the unpaved road becomes paved is where Freddie recently saw a pair of Scarlet Macaws. They appear to be making a nest in the area as they've been there on multiple occasions. No luck for us today; we didn't spot them.

About 10-15 minutes later we arrived at Caracol!! Jonathan paid our park fee and we were on our way. Freddie first took us to a place where the Mayan people resided, a Mayan suburb if you will.

Rockin the Suburbs
we saw this millipede.

The ruins at the 'burb were cool, then we went to a place that has only been partially excavated. Freddie wanted to show us that the jungle really cloaks the ruins.


Then we saw the big temples! The steps up the ziggurat were at least 2 feet high each, which is ridiculous because a Mayan was generally only 4 feet tall. We climbed the top of the tallest building, which had three levels: administrative, the king's home, and the sacred sacrifice/ceremony level. Freddie explained that the kings were like god-priests and would perform the ceremonial rituals. There were some great views from the top. And some tombs to crawl around in!

view of smaller temple from the ground.

mayan steps

view from level 1


Freddie: "let's put the lid on!" lol!

view from the third and topmost level that's Guatemala in the background.


mayan ruin adventurers

the king's throne. you're not allowed to sit on it! 

We climbed down and headed across the lawn (avoiding fire ant hills!) and learned about the opposing structure. This structure had a wisp of butterflies gathered at the base, and Freddie explained that they're extracting calcium from the limestone to make their mating more successful.

too tall to pass as a Mayan.

Mayan steps


they were so focused

they let me get super close!

especially this one

the structure we just climbed down.
We went on to learn about Mayan ball sports (winner gets the jewelry/valuables the bystanders have on them, loser gets sacrificed), various birds including the Montezuma Oropendula, saw the big Ceiba tree (600 years old!) saw the astronomer's structure, learned that if you get poisoned by the bark of the poison wood tree then you just bathe in tea made from the bark of a gumbo-limbo tree, saw the rain basin/collection area and a large monument commemorating a scribe-king, evidenced by his monkey-belt. We walked through the archaeologists quarters, now empty because they're off for the summer, and settled in for a yummy packed lunch.

Big Ceiba

Nests made by male Montezuma Oropendulas!

View of the astronomer's temple

fire ant hill

archaeologists housing

picnic table

lunchie! I was so hungry I accidentally ate with the serving fork. Freddie thought that was hilarious!
On the way back to the Inn we stopped by for a refreshing dip in the Rio On Pools, a series of cascades and pools in the Rio On. We had a grand time scrambling the rocks, slipping around on the moss-covered granite, and sitting at the bottom of the mini-cascades for a natural massage. There were even a couple of places that made natural water slides.

playing in the falls

ahhhh natural massage

rio on pools

such fun!
After swimming, we completed our trip by dropping off Greg & Kristen at the farm and heading back to Hidden Valley Inn. Once at the Inn, we were greeted by Misael from whom we obtained our key and told about our adventures. We went back to our room (exhausted!) and freshened up for dinner.

We had a new server tonight, Tito. He was great and so was the food:

1) Mediterrenian Salad and Garlic Rolls
2) Shrimo Empenada with Garlic Mayo
3) Rack of Lamb with Cabbage and Potato
4) Fresh Tropical Fruit on a caramel-filled, whipped cream topped meringue.

We also go to meet the chef. She came out and we sang her praise!

After we finished dinner, we came back to the room. The plan was to change and go back out under the stars, but we were so tired! Instead, here we are: J is reading, I'm journaling, the crickets are chirping, and there is a baby gecko watching us from the cool tile floor.

Did you know that geckos make noise? A chirping-ribbit-kissing sound?

You learn something new every day :)

1 comment:

justumbo said...

So cool! I'm jealous you got to see the Mayan ruins, they'd be sweet to see after my archeology class. Did you actually get to go inside?

p.s. I hope the shrimo empenada was good ;)