Today Lauren and I had an incredible, amazing, fun, hot, adventurous, stupendous, exciting day; to say the least, it was great. This morning Lauren and I got up at 6 a.m. in order to meet our tour guide who took us to the Rio Frio Cave (located in the rain forest), Caracol (a Mayan ruin) and a local river.
Our adventures began when we left Santa Elena, the twin town of San Ignacio. We took an hour drive on the back rodes of Belize. The local people say that when you drive those rodes you get a free message and they were not kidding. The roads were extremely bumpy and unpaved. We were bouncing all of the car while still trying to wake up. Randy our tour guide was explaining how the people who are running for office will pave a road in order to help their votes go up; a "favor" to the people. After an hour of being car sick, we finally reached Rio Frio.
Our first sight at Rio Frio were three Belizian soldiers who carried machetes with them. Our first thought was that jaguars were common in the area, but we were informed that the US Embassy pays for the soldiers to patrol the areas. The reason for this assignment is because the area we were in had a history of Guatemalans mugging and attacking the people who visited the area. Randy introduced us to some of the native plants and showed us the cave/tunnel. It was a gorgeous tunnel made of limestone that had a river flowing through it. On the other side of the tunnel was a nature seen that you see in National Geographic magazines. There was a still river and gorgeous trees and plants that live in the rain forest with the sunlight hitting them in the right places. Since the theme of our tour was the Mayan culture, he said that some Mayans stayed in the cave one in a while to sleep while they were hunting, traveling or at war the only use the Mayans had with the tunnel. The Mayans believed that tunnels and caves represented the 9 layers of the under world and ignored them as much as they could. That story led us on our next adventure.
So our second adventure took place at Caracol. Starting off, we we walked in the rain forest and headed to platforms where the middle class Mayans lived. Back in A.D. Belize flooded alot, therefore they Mayans had all their houses and buildings placed on a 2-3 foot stone platform. We heard Howler Monkeys talking and found out that the Mayans buried their family numbers under their homes and piled them on top of one another. It did not smell though because of the calcium in the limestone. The Mayan homes consist of four houses in a small court yard. One house faced north, one faced east, one faced south and one faced west. We then headed to the upper class homes that were located up the hill. The houses once had wooden roofs and thick stone walls that acted as an air conditioner. After seeing the homes, we headed to the center of town where the huge main ruins were located. Before looking at the ruins, Randy showed us the Howler Monkeys that were in the trees!!!! We finally got to see monkeys!!!!!!!!! There was a family of five and one was a little baby monkey; it was really neat. We then focused our attention on the main ruin. This ruin in Caracol is a Mayan structure, not a temple. This is because the main ruin was the elites homes, a tomb and consisted of temples on top of the structure. After hearing the history Lauren and I climbed the hundreds of stairs to the top of the ruin and lets just say it was a great workout. The stairs were tall and and narrow, in order to go down the stairs we had to go down sideways. We then toured five other structures that have been excavated at Caracol so far and climbed all of the ruins to the very top. Caracol was a powerful city, they won the battle against Tikal in Guatemala, had human sacrifices and slavery. Walking around the city, we found out that the majority of buildings have not yet been excavated from the earth and that the Mayans built rooms and buildings beneath the ground as well. We saw these cool birds who had gorgeous yellow tails and made the coolest sound. The male birds built the nests that hang from trees and look like ornaments, the female bird then judges the nest and if she likes it they mate, if she does not he has to start over again. After spending hours in the hot sun and exploring the ruins, we headed back to eat lunch at the gate where we parked. Lunch was good. It consisted of a burrito, salad, banana chips and water and coke, the owners wife made our lunches. After eating and cooling down we were ready to head to the next site.
The next site was a river in which Lauren and I swam in. I must say I was pretty proud of myself because I do not like getting in water. We climbed and jumped the rocks in order to find a quiet place to relax in the cool water. The problem with the rocks though were that they were very slippery. The rocks were granite and had algae all over them. After a short relaxing time, we finally got back in the card to head home.
We were "lucky" enough to continue with the free massage and stopped at a Mayan village on the way back to look in a gift store. On the way home Randy was telling us about certain dishes and teaching us some creole. He dropped us off at the market where people sell fruits and crafts. After looking around, we headed back home.
We now have more adventures planned for tomorrow.