Trip to Mayan Ruins
In addition to the rainforest trek and time chatting with people (see Belize blogs), we also had the chance to visit the Xunantunich Mayan ruins during our recent trip to Belize.
Since the journey is half the fun, this part of the blog will cover the trip to the ruins. My next blog will cover the actual visit to the ruins.
We left our island at around 8am, and took a 20 minute boat ride to the mainland of Belize. Our vans arrived shortly thereafter. We then left for a 2.5 hour ride to the ruins, which actually took about 5.5 hours because we made several stops. Specifically for use of rest rooms and a gift shop break. We also stopped a few minutes to wander around a town market, and for lunch.
The van ride itself is worth a few minutes of discussion.
There are no posted speed limits in Belize, but the legal speed limit is 55mph, which is not enforced or followed. The 15 of us were split into two vans. They essentially followed each other on a trip first North then West to the Xunantunich area. Our driver (and then tour guide) Bernard’s hand can be seen in the picture to the left. Going to the ruins we drove about 55mph except for when we stopped for a specific reason, or when we ran over the “sleeping policemen,” aka the speed bumps.
There are no stop lights, speed signs, or police enforcement on any highway in Belize. However, every so often, all of a sudden there would be a HUGE speed bump. The driver would screech from 55mph to 0, carefully drive over the bump, then stomp on the gas pedal. It made for interesting driving. As the drivers told us, if you hit just one of those bumps going too fast, you’ll ruin your car. So they are very careful to go slow in the slow areas!
The vans came equipped with multiple air fresheners (you can see one of them hanging from the window). While the vans were air conditioned, by the end of the day we figured out why there were so many fresheners. Eight people walking in the Central American heat tend to get very sweaty and stinky. The van was definitely ripe by the time we were finished!
We stopped for lunch on our way to the ruins at a place called Benny’s Kitchen in San Ignacio, Belize. If you are ever in that part of the world, you must stop by! For $6 (US), I had a DELICIOUS meal! I ordered the fried fish fillet with the flour tortilla instead of rice. I received two huge homemade hot tortillas (maybe 14-16″ in diameter). That came with a delicious hunk of fried fish with homemade guacamole, beans, and vegetables.
It’s very rare that I order anything fried, but it sounded great. It was absolutely delicious and not heavy at all. The meal was so colorful and fresh that one of our traveling companions insisted on taking a picture of the food. Unfortunately, he hasn’t sent it to me yet, so my word will have to do! For $6, you couldn’t go wrong. The menu also had items such as chicken with rice and beans, chicken with mole sauce, cow-foot soup (yup), stewed pork, and pork cooked in underground oven.
Then it was off to the ferry that’s required to get to the ruins. We all had to get off the van (just in case the van sunk while crossing). So we stood next to the van while crossing. The ferry moved across the river via a rope system generated by arm power. The engineer just turned a wheel to move us along. No causeway here! This is the only way to get to the ruins. When the ruins themselves get too busy, the ferry just slows down or shuts down until some of the crowds leave. When we were there, we were almost the only group at the grounds.
Which will be discussed in my next blog!!!