Hey, I'm back! It was frickin' awesome. I didn't get any bug bites that I can see, nor did I get sick, or robbed, or sunburned. I did get sore and bruised, but that was from ADVENTURING! We were adventurers. And now I have 680 photos, plus a few videos, so I will be posting them through the next few days.
here are some shots from the first full day we had in Belize. This was the "jungle" portion of the trip; we were staying in San Ignacio. We did a guided tour of the ATM cave, a big, well, cave, full of Mayan artifacts.
You have to hike for 45 minutes thru the jungle, crossing the Mopan River four times, just to get to the entrance. I'm the one in the bucket hat:
The cave entrance is gorgeous. You have to swim into the cave, just about 15 feet or so. The water was cold.
And then, inside, you are mostly wading in water up to mid-chest-height, plus occasionally clambering over big rocks. Everyone's wearing a headlamp. It's basically a series of huge, 40-foot-tall rooms, linked by narrower passageways with a river running through them. The Mayans used only the first half-mile of the cave, so that's where the tours go.
When you get to the big, main dry place, you take off your shoes and put on socks -- socks so you can feel where you're stepping, while protecting the rock from your foot grease.
There are skulls and bones from sacrificed people, and tons of pots that they used to collect the water that dripped from the cave ceilings. The caves were supposed to be a sort of purgatory place where they were closer to the gods. Read more here, if you care.
Orange tape alerted you to watch your step, there's an artifact nearby. Everything's kind of the same color and covered with dust and calcification. Here's a skull and a pot:
Here's a shot of one of the big rooms. Lots of super-cool rock formations everywhere you looked.
A detail of one of the crystally outcroppings. Scale is hard to tell; the blob in the center is about 18 inches high, I'd say:
In the farthest room, up a very rickety ladder, lies the "crystal maiden." The Mayans were getting desperate at this point, suffering from a very bad drought, and so they started sacrificing girls, which was unusual for them. (That's what the guide told us, anyway.)
To be continued...