Saturday, October 3, 2009

Day 5-Belize and Lamanai Ruins

This was my favorite day the entire trip...

On Thursday we were in Belize. Our entire group of 25 went to the Lamanai Ruins. We used Belize Cruise Excursions. They were wonderful!
We started out at the port. Here I am, being a rebel:we then boarded a bus for a 1 hour bus ride to the New River. Our tour guide, Ivar, was FANTASTIC. He knew everything! we had lots of history lessons, lots of flora/fauna lessons, stories and more. He made the hour long ride go by fast.

When we got to the New River we took a 40 minute boat ride up to Lamanai Ruins.

This is the Mennonite Farm. They are the wealthiest people in All of Belize. They immigrated here in the 1950s and are really prosperous farmers and merchants.Here is a local man showing us what he caught for the day.

Here are some other pictures from the river
We Arrived at Lamanai, which means Submerged Crocodile. Lamanai was the most successful Mayan city. When all the other cities were being deserted, Lamanai still flourished. They estimate that there were over 75,000 people in the city of Lamanai, which was occupied until the 1600s. this is amazing, as archaeologists believe that Lamanai was populated as early as the 16th century BC. LDS Scholars and archaeologists believe that Lamanai is a strong candidate for the City of Gerson as mentioned in the book of Mormon.

Only 1% of Lamanai has been excavated. You can see the structures covered by mounds of dirt, knowing something is underneath. But since it hasnt been excavated yet, you can only guess.
Lamanai is smack Dab in the middle of the jungle. and it was HOT and HUMID!!!
All of Belize is flat. The Mayan liked to build things up. So we would be walking along these hills and realize that to either side it was flat. Everything we walked on was built up by rocks and dirt etc.
The first structure we came to was the mask Temple. The interesting thing about Lamanai is that much of the Lamanai archaeological site was built in layers. Successive populations built upon the temples of their ancestors, instead of destroying them.

We next came to the High Temple. This was AMAZING.

We got to climb to the top, which was a HUGE undertaking. The pyramid went straight up. The steps were tall and narrow and all we had to hold on to was a yellow nylon rope.

Here are a few different views from where I was climbing.

i DID make it to the top. I am right in the middle, kind of beind some people in the purple shirt.

The view from the top of the high temple was spectacular. You could see over the entire jungle canopy.

And let me say the trip DOWN was A LOT harder than the trip UP! When I got to the bottom again my legs were JELLO. It was the hardest(apart from childbirth) yet most exhilarating and exciting thing I think I have done in a long, long time.
So here we are back safely at the bottom, giving a thumbs up to ourselves.

we then continued on. Here is the Ball Court . I dont know what kind of ball they played.We then moved on to the Jaguar Temple. Here is a retaining wall on the edge of the plaza. The Jaguar Temple was huge. And there was a large plaza type square, where the people would congregate. the high priest would climb to the top of the temple, wearing a 5 ft tall headdress and speak.The Maya were pretty tall, so it must have been an impressive sight back in the day. The acoustics were amazing. You could hear someone from the top of the pyramid down at the bottom.

Here are the Jaguars...hence the name, Jaguar Temple

After the ruins we went back up the river and ate a traditional Belizean lunch. Stewed chicken, rice and black beans with a habanero salsa, papaya and watermelon and fried plantains. It was the best meal I had the entire week.
This was the best excursion and best trip we took. I absolutely LOVED Belize. I cannot wait to go back again.

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