I’ve decided the ancient Mayans must have actually been giants, because their steps sure are high. I felt like a midget climbing them.
Since Ray was so amused at my slow upward progress, I returned the favor by taking his picture as he huffed and puffed up behind me (and the moral of this story is, don’t mess with the woman telling the story).
But seriously – we were actually quite in awe – how can you not be, when you are literally sitting on a piece of history. And we still can’t quite believe we’re in Belize. It’s like we’ve been listening to Radio Margaritaville so long that we finally morphed right into a Sirius receiver – or that we’ve climbed inside one of the many tropical screensavers we’ve had on our laptops all these years. We are actually fricking HERE!
Not to mention, the view was spectacular up there – overlooking this next structure just below, and to the east, we could see the roof of Tea’s blue house in the near distance (it’s kind of in the tree in this image), and actually all the way across the peninsula to the other side of its bay (see the surf break mid-right on this image).
So eventually we climbed down from that spot and went over to explore the next structure. The top of this one overlooks the water,, so Ray decided it was a lover’s leap, like on Guam. I thought maybe it was a light house of sorts – they burned fires up there to guide the ships in? We were both wrong – it was a ceremonial space.
In case you’re wondering at how well this structure seemed to have aged – we were slightly disappointed to learn later at the welcome center that the carvings aren’t completely authentic, they’re a restoration (still impressive, though).
Anywho, a little backstory here – one night last week we had made the mistake of driving to the site at around sundown, intending to have a sunset view. We went so far as to leave the truck and start up the walkway but the mosquitos were so insane, we literally almost ran back to the parking lot (believe it or not, that’s the worst of the mosquitos we’ve seen since we’ve arrived; at this time of year, anyway, they don’t seem much of a problem). So – I mention that to say we had seen signs then that said we needed to pay “the one in charge” – and Bill had reminded us, too, that there was a small charge for visiting.
So after we finished our explorations, we headed down the trail toward the welcome center, Ray swinging his machete and me ambling behind him. Suddenly we came upon a clearly startled tourist coming our way – a young blonde woman, maybe Danish or German, with a nice camera. So what does Ray do? He raises the machete, brandishes it a little, and says, “Oh, I don’t usually carry a machete…” (and I’m immediately thinking – but didn’t say – “but when I do, I’m in Belize at the Mayan ruins. I AM the most interesting man in the world.” Ha ha!). Anyway, the poor girl looked even more uncertain (I’m pretty sure she didn’t understand English) and gave us a wide berth as we went on by.
Side note, even funnier: We were talking to Bill later and he said a tour operator who had apparently transported this girl out to the ruins had also brought her over to his dock at Cerros Beach Resort, so he had asked her if she’d seen two gringos while she was out there – and he mimed her nodding, eyes wide.
Eventually we found this guy, deconstructing a palapa. We explained that we’d come in the back way but knew we were supposed to pay somebody – ? He said, “Oh, I am the one in charge” and of course, the little voice in my head was going, You’ve seen Captain Phillips? “Look at me. Look at me! I am the ONE IN CHARGE.” I refrained from sharing that, though, until Ray and I were alone again.
So apparently Sol (the guy pictured with Ray here) and his dad Roy live on premises and they are, well, in charge, such as it is. They directed us toward the visitor center and we spent some time there reading the wall signage and looking at maps and artifacts.
Time to head back. We stopped for one more picture, which shows (foreground, in the water) the remains of one of several Mayan stone piers along the peninsula, from when this was a trading port. Actually, the pier at Tea’s property looked like this originally and was built over with more stone and cement. Also, the glint behind me is the roof of Tea’s blue house – that’s how close we are.
Well, I lied. One more picture – kind of hard to see, but this is a tug pulling sugar cane barges across the Bay, which is a common sight here, as they transport down the New River (the ferry has to let their chains down when these guys go by) to the factory in Orange Walk. At night when it’s quiet, you can hear this steady little thrum as they go back and forth.
The trip back was a little easier since we knew where we were going now, and we came out on the road dusty and thirsty, heading for home. Another good days’ adventure! 🙂