Saturday, July 21, 2012

Altun Ha

Along the Maya Route

 The ruins of this ancient Mayan ceremonial center in Belize are the most accessible.  Tours are available even if your home base is out on the islands.  We drove the Northern Highway from Belize City, only 30 miles north to see them.  In 2003, the road was narrow and filled with potholes.  My travel buddy, two sons and I were a bit rattled by the time we got there.  Hopefully, the road has been improved.

Altun Ha dates from 1100 BCE to 900CE.  The ruins are from the classical period of this great civilization.  The site is small.  It takes only an hour or two to walk around them and this is at a leisurely pace.  We hired a young man at the entrance, negotiating a fee for ten dollars.  What a bargain!  Leroy had lived here his entire life.  His grandfather had helped to excavate the ruins, so he knew them inside-out.

We climbed to the top of all the buildings for incredible views of the jungle canopy.  Leroy knew the names of all the plants.  In fact, he stripped some bark off a tree and placed it on my sons' arms to relieve the swelling and itchiness from a wasp attack the day before.  "Wasps are especially vicious this time of year," he told us and then pointed out more nests in the trees below.  I had been spared because I had stopped to admire a bromeliad along the jungle trail we were following.  My three guys came screaming out of the jungle with a swarm of wasps (we thought they were killer bees!) flying behind them.  The wasps followed them all the way to the car and didn't leave them alone until we were a hundred yards away.  By then, they had completely stripped down to their boxers.  I tried to be sympathetic, but it was a funny sight.  They were not amused.   Those nasty creatures had impaled their heads, arms, backs and even the bottoms of their feet.  I swear they were cussing like banshees from hell.  

Needless to say  we learned a lesson that day.  Hire a guide!

No comments:

Post a Comment