San Ignacio
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12/21-26/05

For our honeymoon we choose Belize since we've heard nothing but good about it, they speak English, and it would be relaxing and warm. Luckily we took only a couple backpacks for carry-on, since the flights were screwed up and we probably would've lost our luggage. After a couple layovers in Texas we arrived in Belize City around 4:30pm and hopped in a cab for the Hotel Mopan. First thing we did was strip off our pant legs and long sleeve shirts! Belize City is not the prettiest place and we were glad we weren't staying more then the night.
Wednesday we got up early and were going to catch one of the first buses out to San Ignacio where we would stay for five nights. On the plane Jean joked that "well, atleast there's not a transit strike in Belize like New York City!"
135Belize-San Ignacio.JPG (81395 bytes)Well guess what?! The biggest bus company went out of business that day! D'oh! We found this out in the middle of a shady neighborhood at a bus stop. Great way to start a honeymoon! We quickly took a cab to the tourist bureau and found out other buses were running, so luckily we went to a different bus stop and got on one right away. According146Belize-ATM.JPG (93640 bytes) great and it seemed like lots of fun!156Belize-ATM.JPG (64572 bytes)and packed away our stuff in dry bags for the three river crossings we would encounter during the 45 minute hike through the jungle to the mouth of the cave. This was starting out a bunch of fun and we even stopped at a tree to eat termites and check out 120yr old giant trees! At the mouth of the cave we had a typical Belizian lunch (a thin ham/cheese sammy, plantation chips, and lots of fruit) then heard all about the cave and exploring it. Next we jumped into the deep pool and had to swim into the cave! From there on for the next 400yards161Belize-ATM.JPG (46137 bytes) was a combo of swimming, wading, squeezing through rocks, and looking around at the cool mineral formations all in complete darkness except for our headlamps. We then climbed up some steep rocks to a shelf where we took off our shoes and got our camera's back. The next 400yards was through cave openings and rooms where Mayan ceremonies and sacrifices took place over 1000 years ago! It was really wild and a bit spooky! Over 35 skeletons have been found so far, including infants and women. We eventually retraced our steps back and woke up some bats along the way. By the end of the 2.5hrs through the cave and back our jaws were on the ground with amazement and we couldn't believe how cool it was!!!! Back to San Ignacio for dinner and Belikins.
198Belize-Caracol.JPG (107384 bytes)Friday we signed up for a tour of the ancient Mayan city of Caracol. This proved to be just as cool as the ATM cave tour but  with a longer and bumpier road!!! Less than one percent of the site has been excavated and there are mounds everywhere of Mayan home sites and villages surrounding the central Acropolis. We saw Mayan ballPC230046.JPG (85915 bytes) courts, plaza's, sacrificial grounds, carving of giant rocks, and the royal family temples. The temples (largest at 141ft called Caana) were amazing and from the tops of them you could see the Belizian jungle for miles and miles. It was weird to be followed around by Belizian army dudes, but being close to the Guatemalan border, but in previous years there was some "trouble". Hard to believe that these temples and building are between 1200 and 1500 years old! WOW! On the way back along the 50mile bumpy road we stopped at the gigantic Rio Frio cave and Rio On pools. More cool formations formed by hundred of years of water running over and through limestone.
Saturday we signed up for the Caves Branch tubing tour. This was a cool and relaxing day. Basically ya hike a mile 236Belize-tubing.JPG (78408 bytes)through the jungle to the mouth of a cave, then hop in an inner tube and float through a mile of cave with just a headlamp!!! It was spooky being in such complete darkness with the roof of a cave just a few feet above your head! Back in San Ignacio we watched part of a locals soccer game. The highlight was an old man running on the field after a yellow card and getting tackled by police. Through all this he never dropped his cigarette!
Sunday was Christmas so we laid in bed watching movies all morning then finally ventured out around town. It was completely dead and silent! Nothing was open and we figured we would have a hard time getting to the Xunantunich Mayan ruins. Oh well, we were ready for a down-day, so we went to the only food joint open in town...a Chinese restaurant!!! We had lunch there then read on the porch for hours before heading back there for dinner.
Monday was riding another fully packed bus back to Belize City then hopping on a ferry to Caye Caulker.....

Belize City stuff: 125Belize-hotel mopan.JPG (37586 bytes)    129Belize-hotel mopan.JPG (67860 bytes)    130Belize-San Ignacio.JPG (87543 bytes)    132Belize-San Ignacio.JPG (85409 bytes)

Martha's Guesthouse and the local vegetation: 134Belize-San Ignacio.JPG (66298 bytes)    PC210006.JPG (45781 bytes)    136Belize-San Ignacio.JPG (73910 bytes)    137Belize-ATM.JPG (73772 bytes)    180Belize-San Ignacio.JPG (94086 bytes)

        Actun Tunichil Muknal caving tour river crossing: 142Belize-ATM.JPG (96468 bytes)    143Belize-ATM.JPG (60973 bytes)

Termite nest and us eating them: 144Belize-ATM.JPG (109872 bytes)    145Belize-ATM.JPG (100005 bytes) Leaf cutter ants: 147Belize-ATM.JPG (93537 bytes)    148Belize-ATM.JPG (88671 bytes)

In the ATM cave and the Mayan sacrificial ruins: 151Belize-ATM.JPG (74190 bytes)    153Belize-ATM.JPG (56163 bytes)    154Belize-ATM.JPG (89942 bytes)    155Belize-ATM.JPG (65098 bytes)

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Ancient Mayan city of Caracol: 184Belize-Caracol.JPG (106688 bytes)    185Belize-Caracol.JPG (113065 bytes)    187Belize-Caracol.JPG (98046 bytes)    191Belize-Caracol.JPG (102874 bytes)    193Belize-Caracol.JPG (119027 bytes)

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Rio Frio Cave and Rio On Falls: 229Belize-Cave.JPG (75235 bytes)    PC230071.JPG (83496 bytes)    PC230072.JPG (60903 bytes)    231Belize-Falls.JPG (97402 bytes)    232Belize-Falls.JPG (80731 bytes)    234Belize-Falls.JPG (98515 bytes)

Tubing through Caves Branch Cave: 237Belize-tubing.JPG (82312 bytes)    238Belize-tubing.JPG (97239 bytes)    239Belize-tubing.JPG (108887 bytes)    240Belize-tubing.JPG (89992 bytes)