|Double rainbow over a lighthouse|
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|
|Water lilies in bloom|
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.
|The boats went pretty fast.|
|Snake air plant|
|Yellow-crowned night heron|
|Edgar, our tour guide|
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|
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.
|Looking straight down the temple stairs|
|Bob on the right side above|
|Bob conquered the High Temple|
|King of the castle|
|Bob coming down very carefully|
|Photo from the top of High Temple|
|Bob took a photo of me (center in purple)|
|Nice of him to zoom in.|
|Bob next to mask on High Temple|
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.
|Here's one of carved limestone masks|
|You can see how big it is when we stand next to 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 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.
Travel Bug out.