Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017
Bob and Rigamarole at Texas Canyon Rest Area, Arizona, September 30, 2017

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Go to Sleep in Cozumel, Wake Up in Belize City - Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015

This morning when we woke up, we were off the coast of Belize City. Bob looked out our stateroom window and this is what he saw...

Double rainbow over a lighthouse
We had a good breakfast to carry us over until whatever time lunch would be. Our ship did not dock in Belize City which necessitated taking a tender from the ship to shore. The ride on the tender was 20 minutes.


The Belizean flag depicts a Mestizo woodsman and a black woodsman which are symbolic of the importance of mahogany trees in the 18th and 19th centuries. A mahogany tree is in the center to show one of their major exports, along with a sailing ship, agricultural reference, and their motto: Sub Umbria Floreo (under the shade I flourish).


After we reached Belize City, a bus was waiting to take us on the 50-mile drive north to Carmelita where we would board boats that would take us on a 45-minute river safari to Lamanai Mayan ruins. The reason we chose this shore excursion was their description that this is a more rustic experience with ruins in the middle of the rainforest. We were not disappointed. In fact, this was our favorite shore excursion of our cruise.

The weather was rather iffy during the first part of our boat ride with looming ominous gray clouds and rain showers visible in the distance. When we stepped off the boats at Lamanai, a short sprinkle greeted us to remind us that this is a rainforest, after all.

The boats to take us upriver
Beautiful lake at the start of the boat ride
Our guides on the boat ride had a sharp eye for wildlife. I have no idea how they found some of the animals and birds because we traveled pretty fast. Below is a tree iguana. They are orange colored and live entirely in the trees as the land is very swampy. Enlarge the first photo to see the elaborate coloring on his neck and the folds of skin hanging on his chest. This iguana was quite large. The second photo is a little blurry because I had to zoom in and the boat was moving. But you can see how big this guy was.

Tree iguana
Tree iguana
Water lilies in bloom
Bob and I loved the river safari part of our excursion. Our boat driver obviously knew his way around the river. There were lots of side channels; we would have been lost trying to get there on our own!

We stopped to look at insect bats sleeping on the bark of a tree. I was only able to take a blurry photo. There are about 12 medium-brown insect bats on the bark of the tree in the photo below. If you enlarge the photo, you can see their feet hanging onto the tree, especially the bat on the top left. The bats hang upside down.

Insect bats
The boats went pretty fast.
Sleeping nighthawk
Snake air plant
Beautiful river
Below is a jacana, also known as the Jesus bird because it looks like it's walking on water.

Jacana
Jacana
Jacana
Yellow-crowned night heron
Turtle
Edgar, our tour guide
The river safari was only a part of our tour. We learned about the Mennonites who settled in Belize. They moved from Mexico to Belize when Mexico wanted their kids to go to school. The Mennonites want to home school their children. The Mennonites were given land to farm in Belize. We saw one of their sugar cane fields. Mennonites also make pre-manufactured homes.

When our boat arrived at Lamanai, we learned Lamanai means submerged crocodiles. When we stopped in the river looking at the sugar cane field, as the boat started up to continue upriver, I saw a crocodile's eyes and snout (that had been behind the boat) slowly sink into the river. Pretty cool.

Upon arrival at Lamanai, our tour guide gave us time to use the facilities, then we hiked into the rainforest.

When Lamanai was first discovered it was thought there were three square miles of Mayan ruins located under the rainforest. Upon surveying the area with infrared, they now estimate the ruins are scattered over 20 square miles. These ruins are covered with trees, dirt, and rainforest. The hardest thing to do is to protect the ruins from poachers. So many artifacts have been lost to collectors coming in to steal them that a concerted effort is underway to keep new sites secret.

After a very short hike up some stairs, we came to the Jaguar Temple.

Bob in front of Jaguar Temple
Me at Jaguar Temple
Jaguar Temple - Jaguar "masks" at bottom corners
Jaguar mask in corners of temple (imagine
eyes, nose, whiskers, mouth)
Used for a Mayan ball game
Above is a photo of a ball court. The object was to bounce a ball off one of the side walls and have it hit the flat circular rock in the middle. While we were looking at the ball court, howler monkeys were overhead in the trees. I couldn't get a picture of any because there were too many leaves and branches in the way.

Our next stop was High Temple, the tallest structure at Lamanai and one of the largest Preclassic structures in the Maya area.


In the past people were allowed to climb up the stairs to the top; however, last year someone fell down the steep steps. Since then, wooden stairs were built on the back side of the temple and that is how we climbed up.

High Temple
Looking straight down the temple stairs
The wooden stairs took us almost to the top. From where we were, it was still a steep climb to the very top. Bob went up. I stayed where I was and took photos.

Bob on the right side above
Bob conquered the High Temple
King of the castle
Bob coming down very carefully
Bob came down, I gave him the camera, and he went back up to take photos from the top. You can see over the top of the rainforest canopy to the river.

Photo from the top of High Temple
Bob took a photo of me (center in purple)
Nice of him to zoom in.
 Below is Bob next to one of the masks on the High Temple.

Bob next to mask on High Temple
We were warned to bring insect repellent on this tour. I brought Cutter Deep Woods with DEET and sprayed it on us. The mosquitoes were voracious. Even with the insect repellent on, I got bit about three times.

We continued on into the rainforest to see Mask Temple.
Trail through rainforest
Big vines hanging on the trail

 This structure is known for its carved limestone masks - about 15' tall.

Mask Temple
Here's one of carved limestone masks
You can see how big it is when we stand next to it!
After the three temples, we hiked back to the gift shops and boat landing. There's also a small museum on site, but we didn't have time to go through it.

Bob and I particularly liked the beach towel below: "Nature's Best Kept Secret." Belize has so much for nature lovers: scuba diving and snorkeling, bird-watching, a jaguar preserve, baboon sanctuary, fishing, hiking, waterfalls, caves, Mayan ruin exploration, and boating.


One of two gift shops at Lamanai
Our return trip back down the river to our lunch stop was full speed ahead. Loved the thrill of racing down the river! Lunch was included in our tour. We had red beans and rice, coconut milk gravy, steamed chicken, coleslaw and bread pudding. Very tasty.

Our trip downriver
Where we had lunch
We can't speak highly enough about the fun we had in Belize. We know we want to go back and spend more time going to waterfalls, bird-watching, and seeing more Mayan ruins. The language is English, they drive on the right side of the road, you get two Belizean dollars for one U.S. dollar, and the U.S. dollar is accepted in Belize. Lots more exploring to do there.

Upon our return to the ship, we changed clothes, ate dinner, played Team Trivia, then went to see the show "Soul Duo." We weren't sure what to expect during the show. "Soul Duo" is a couple from Kiev, Ukraine whose show is a fusion of acrobatic feats, aerial ballet and beautiful choreography. The two performers were exceptional. We couldn't keep our eyes off them. They were given a standing ovation at the end of their performance.

After the show, we went to Spinnaker Lounge for "The Perfect Couple Game Show." It was hilarious. Three couples were chosen from the audience to vie for the title of Perfect Couple. They were given silly tasks to perform and were timed on how long it took for each task. We got lots of laughs out of that show.

When we got back to our room, we were greeted by a penguin.

Towel art

Another great shore excursion today. Tomorrow we will be snorkeling off the island of Roatan, Honduras. It will be an early morning excursion as we have to be on the pier by 7:30 a.m.

Travel Bug out.



4 comments:

  1. Glad it seems like you are having great weather as well as a great trip.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks like a fabulous excursion! So many interesting and different experiences!

    ReplyDelete
  3. We visited Belize several years ago on another cruise and did the ruins at Xunantunich. Highly recommend if you go back to explore the country at another time.

    ReplyDelete

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