Well, we landed at the airport in Belize City, and our ride, his name was Eli, from Table Rock Jungle Resort was out front holding our sign.. (newbie newbie newbie!) ha-ha.
Christine Cotton set us up with a ride to Table Rock Jungle Lodge outside of San Ignacio; I had to make a short side trip to the rental car company to pick up our cell phone and our package for our dive boat. All in all? Painless
We rode for about 2 hours (or thereabouts) to Table Rock, where we were welcomed and were escorted to our lodge. WOW. It was more than we could have asked for. It was beyond any expectations I had. And I wasn’t sure what I had. But looking at the poverty on the way to the Lodge, I had concerns. We went to the dining room where me met several other folks from all over. The tales were wonderful, and the people even more so.
I had a couple of rum drinks, and listened to the folks tell their stories of where they were from and who they were. The dining room is an open hut with a thatched roof that does not leak.. Even in these incredible downpours. It is beautiful in its way. The two owners here Allen and Colleen have hit the nerve of this land. Table Rock Lodge is primitive enough to be adventurous, fun, beautiful, exciting, and civilized enough to be truly wondrous.
The next morning we woke early when Lynda told me about her goof up. She grabbed the wrong battery charger for her camera. Oops. And we were heading for the ATM cave tour, where they warn you. You will get wet. Now, when I hear that statement in the USA, I think, some “splashy splashy” from some rain or from water in the creek or something yada yada yada… and no cameras allowed. The reason? Some tourist was holding a camera over a pot and dropped it, shattering the pot. No more cameras. The Belizeans are very particular about keeping their archaeological sites as pristine as possible.
Now, when the Belizeans tell you that you are going to get wet? You are swimming… literally, in caves. Tight spots. In caves. Running creek. In caves. (Did I mention that I am claustrophobic?) Well, off we went. Had to cross 3 rivers some chest deep in cool water.. “Refreshing “ as Emile put it. “Cool” in my words… “YEEHAW!” in Lynda’s words. Which brings up a point. Lynda hasn’t stopped smiling since we arrived. I was worried that the abject poverty of a third world country would somehow diffuse her light. It made it brighter. Her smile is extraordinary, and her spirit is a flame. Such a true joy to watch
So, we hop into the ATM cave where you have to swim in. All the while I have little voices in the back of my head saying, “What happens if we get a flash flood”? Which they just had a few days earlier… but off we went. Our guide, Emil, was full of super cool information about the Mayans and their belief system, the cave formation, and of the biology inside the cave. Emil holds a degree in biology and works locally for a group that are studying the biological systems within Belize. Very smart guy. And loves to rock climb. But I digress
We enter into the cave, dropping low and getting skinny to get in. Tight spaces, and claustrophobia? Screw it; I am having a BLAST… what super cool places to get into. We drop into larger caverns and more education. Stalactite formations, eons of erosion, collapses, and water course changes. But I am fascinated with these caves. Lynda still can’t wipe the smile off her face.
We begin to get back into the caves, and we start finding pottery, still left where the Mayans in 700AD or so originally left the pottery. Deeper we go, testing the darkness by turning off the lights and just taking in the cavern. Into the river again, up into a creek, back down into a river.
A note here, If you are not in shape? You couldn’t do this tour, no question about it. It takes some climbing, twisting, swimming, and some nerve to find your way back to the bone-yards. Yes, the guess in human sacrifices that were meant to help whatever problem the community had at the time. G
Guesses were lack of rains, crop failures, and a host of other issues that needed desperate measures. And the assumption was that since those didn’t work, the civilization broke down and dispersed. These were educated guesses supported by what science could glean from mythology, beliefs, and evidence. All very interesting, and our guide, Emil was full of incredible stories and information.
Christine Cotten? Our travel agent for this adventure? She simply ROCKS. This was one of the coolest things I have had the privilege to see in my lifetime. Belize? So far, outstanding. It is a country that is beautiful in it’s own right. The people have been friendly, and everyone here is soft-spoken, even the tourists (us) as the land is quiet. My ears are truly enjoying the quietness and peace that the jungle exudes. This, I believe, will prove to be one of our greatest adventures yet.
Ladies? I think I am fulfilling my part of the bargain, I hope this adventure gives you gals something to chat about. You the reader(s) will have to read our blog, “2 days and counting” to understand this part.
Next stop? Tikal in Guatemala.