...is pretty much the reaction I got from everyone when I told them where I was spending my next vacation.
I brought my laptop with me planning to take advantage of the complimentary Wi-Fi offered at the resorts where Melissa and I are staying. When I discovered there would be Wi-Fi I had good intentions of updating my blog every couple of days, since I find it takes me a while to complete my vacation posts after the fact, but my trip is almost over and I've updated my blog exactly zero times. Oh well, the upside is that I've been too busy having a good time to be bothered with blogging. Belize is fantastic, you should definitely visit!!!
So we began our Belizean adventure in the Cayo District in the western part of the country, close to the Guatemalan border and convenient for day trips to Tikal. It's pretty easy to get to Belize from New York, just a 3 hour flight to Miami, followed by a 2 hour flight to Philip Goldson International airport. From the airport it's roughly a 90-minute drive to the Ka'ana Boutique Resort located a short distance from the town of San Ignacio, the capital of the Cayo District.
We were pretty tired when we arrived at the resort so we didn't do much beyond explore the grounds and have something to eat.
|Home away from home: our casita at Ka'ana|
|The lower level of the saltwater pool|
|A path through Ka'ana Resort lit for the evening|
The most exciting part of the first half day in Belize was realizing that the resort had fancy cable and we were able to watch the 2nd episode of series 2 of Homeland on Showtime, which was showing at 8pm in Belize owing to the 2-hour time difference with New York, while enjoying the evening treats the Ka'ana team had left in our in room refrigerator.
|Delicious evening treats courtesy of Ka'ana|
It cost us $15 US to leave Belize for the day and was roughly a 2-hour drive from the border, although that 2 hours also included the time spent frequently braking for adventurous piglets to scurry across the road and stopping en route to visit a couple of lakes: Makanche and Peten Itza.
|Ladies washing their clothes on stones in Lake Makanche|
|Lake Peten Itza, the second largest lake in Guatemala|
|Edgar showing us how they make gum from a tree|
Tikal's history dates back to 200-800 BC - carbon dating is more than somewhat approximate apparently - although it came to prominence between 200-900 AD when it dominated much of the Maya region politically, economically and militarily.
The Tikal site was apparently 'discovered' in 1848 by Modesto Mendez and Ambrosio Tut, although its existence was already known to the people who lived in the region. Explorers and looters soon followed. Archaeologists first started the business of recording the ruins in the 1880s, but it wasn't until the 1950s that the first archaeological project began, with major excavations carried out by the University of Pennsylvania which mapped most of the site and restored a number of the structures under the direction of Edwin Shook and, later, William Coe. The corporation of Spain continued the initiative between 1996 and 2003.
The 6 large stones in front of the pyramid (Complex Q?) are called Stelae, typically paired with flat circular altars that can be seen in front. The pyramid shown above actually has nine stelae to represent the 9 levels of the Mayan underworld, known as Xibalba, meaning "place of fear."
|Our Guatemalan guide, Berta, showing us a stela and alter|
|Temple I as seen from the North Acropolis|
|Another view of Temple I from the North Acropolis. Check out the stylish hats!! Ha!!|
Tikal is as hot as Hades by the way with about 3 times as many mosquitoes, malaria carrying mosquitoes at that, although I was naughty and failed to make it to the doctors to pick up any malaria drugs, but touch wood I was okay and got away with only a couple of bites. I may well have poisoning from over use of insect repellent, but no malaria!!
|And here is Temple I again. I got a bit carried away!!|
|And again....So this guy would NOT get out of the way and let me take my photo, so I decided to use him to show the scale of the temple. A-ha take that annoying tourist!!|
|The view from Temple 4. I later learned from a fellow tourist that this view was used in the first Star Wars movie, and by first I mean the one from 1977, so technically the 4th movie. 4th movie my arse. Eyeroll George Lucas. Eyeroll!!|
|The wooden staircase upto the top of Temple IV. Someone told us it was 188 steps to the top. It didn't feel like that many, but then there are 45 steps up to my apartment so perhaps I am just used to climbing.|
|Spotted by Berta...a beautiful bird from the quetzel family|
The animals above are from the racoon family and are all over a certain area of Tikal, although they do not approach humans. They are known as hun chi'ik in Mayan which also happened to be the name of the Belizean tour company we used. Their Spanish name begins with a P, but that's as much as I know. When Melissa first saw them she thought their tails were their heads, so now everytime I look at this photo I see them as miniature diplodocuses (diplodocii??)
|Seven Mayan temples all in a row, although you can only see 5 of them in this photo. Berta explained to us that this area was also where the Mayan ball courts were and proceeded to describe a game that sounded an awful lot like Quidditch|
|And lastly...temple V|