Trip Report – Part 2
We hopped off the Island Ferry and right away you could tell you were on a different island – kinda what I would have thought AC & SP were 10 or more years ago. Everything was just a little slower and more laid back. We thoroughly enjoyed walking south down the beach for a good ways, stopping to look and take pictures and just slow down and stroll along. We passed the Post Office and I had to take a picture of the hand written note outside that said “The following people have parcels inside waiting for them:” There were about ten names on the list. Talk about “general delivery” – that was it! But I’ll bet it did the job.
We stopped at a Sports Bar that had neat six sided picnic tables, each with a round seat out on a spoke. Each table came with one or more dogs curled up and sound asleep beneath them. We had some rum punches and they were perfect. After a while we managed to get up and head back north to the split. We passed a whole group of vendors showing their wares and had a great time checking everything out (women like to do this – even when they don’t really want anything – I think it is bred into them in the DNA) with me watching people – a great pastime.
One thing I’ve noticed is that there were a lot of young people in the cayes – in their early and middle twenties. Couldn’t tell if they were married or not, not that it mattered. Karol left all her rings at home and they may have done the same. We met a nice couple at the bar and they were ending a month’s swing through CA, and were going to be leaving in a week or so. Wow, wish I could have done something like that when at that age!
We did eventually end up at the Lazy Lizard and all the people swimming, diving and sunning all around it. One note – try one of the Lizards special drinks (the lime tropical drink of the house) – it tasted like liquid cilantro ( the herb or spice). Whatever – we ordered three and we threw three away. Yeccch!! Only bad drink of the week and it maybe just preference – but be warned, try one first!
We managed to drift around until we saw by the schedule that we missed the ferry that hour and that the next ferry wasn’t until 5:15 so we marched straight back to the Sports Bar and had dinner. Probably the best thing I had all week – Fettuccini Alfredo with Lobster. Excellent….. Then it was talk and more rum punches until time for the ferry. We didn’t want to be late but we shouldn’t have worried. The worry was that we began to wonder if it was really going to show up. At first I saw a high speed boat approaching from AC at about the right time but it went right by us and tied up a couple of piers further south. Then nothing for a long time, maybe 30 minutes -- it was long enough that the young couple with us went back to check and they found that A) they could get a room for $25 and B) that the boat was indeed coming - just running on island time. Sure enough here it came, but from the south (Belize City) and not from the north. No wonder I never spotted it.
Quick ride back with a pretty beginning of a sunset – days are short right now. Once back at SP we… you know I don’t remember exactly what we did at that point! In checking my pictures I took the last one that night at 6:32 and the next one is Tues am. I’ll fill in if I can later. I know we must have eaten something somewhere!
Tuesday - Lamani
We were up and ready to go at our PV pier at 6:45 am and sure enough here came our boat. It was an awfully small boat to take us all the way to the mainland, but what do I know. I know that I found out quickly that we were on the collector boat and sure enough we picked up another couple before pulling into Seaduced. Now we all got in a bigger boat – with twin Yamaha 200’s on the back. I thought, no this is more like it – and it was. They rev’d them boys up to a notch or two short of full throttle and we just sorta bounced over the tops of the little waves as we went flying by Caye Caulker and Caye Cooper ?? (where the golf course is) and then pass all kinds of little spots of islands until the coast drew very close. Everyone held their breath as we steadily flew right at what appeared to be a dense shoreline of mangroves and trees – our driver cut the throttles just in time to quickly drop to a crawl just as a small opening led into a slough off the main river. We slowly putted up the closed in channel for about a quarter of a mile and then hit the main river. Now we went up on the speed again and traveled up a couple or miles before pulling over to a landing. Oh, they served us a neat breakfast during this short trip and it was great… some kind of ham or chicken biscuits and fruit and coconut filled pastries. This was just what we needed.
At this point our party split up and those going caving or zip-line got in one van while those of us going to Lamani got into another van. We had two guys with us at this point, one from the boat and the driver of the van. Sorry, can’t remember their names but, as usual, they were friendly and seemed to enjoy explaining things and answering our many questions. We traveled approximately 45 minutes before turning off onto a small road that led about a quarter mile back to a parking area besides another river.
Here we boarded a smaller boat with a Yamaha 65 on the back. The boat had a Bimini top and bench seats and could hold probably 12 people but we on had 5 of us on this trip. Our captain and guide was Carlos and we really got a great guy. He really knew his stuff, both the animals and plants going up the river and the actual site at Lamani. He got us loaded and the weight distributed how he wanted and off we go. This trip was to take a little over an hour and it went by rapidly, with Carlos spotting something and stopping to show it to us. All kinds of birds, animals and plants – quite a river and Carlos knew it like I know my backyard.
We passed a Mennonite community which resembled farms back in SC – carved out of the jungle and Carlos said that the Mennonites produce 70% of the agricultural products in Belize – 70%! Amazing as there are only about 40,000 of them in the country. But I digress – back to the river trip.
All too quickly the river opened up into a large bay and we continued out into the open water, staying near the right side. Carlos cut the engine and pointed at the jungle and up over the top of the trees was the stone top of something with little people carefully standing in a tight group – like they were on a solid top of the trees. It turns out this was the High Temple – tallest yet found of the Mayan pyramids. We continued on and came to a pier, tied up and walked into Lamani. They have a nice setup with a couple of big palapa huts for picnicking and several permanent stores where they sell souvenirs of Lamani – proceeds benefiting local schools, etc.
The main building, very modern, open and bright was the museum. Here Carlos showed us a lot of artifacts discovered here and wove them into the story of Lamani. We spent maybe 15 minutes in there before starting up the trail. We didn’t get 100 yards before he stopped, pointed up into a very large, high tree and said, “howler monkeys.” Took a moment and then we could see flashes of black moving through the canopy. Here Carlos had a ball – he cupped his hands and made some very strange sounds. Turns out the male monkey just can’t stand another male near his tree and really began to tell us about it. Between the two of them the jungle really jumped!
After a few sessions Carlos gave the male a break and off we went down a beautiful rain forest trail, under huge gorgeous palms and all kinds of trees, vines, etc. all creating a tunnel through which we walked. Everyone kept tripping over the rough trail because we were constantly looking at the jungle, seeing something new and different almost every time we looked in a new direction. At one point Carlos walked off the trail, bent down and came up with several bright green leaves. He carefully tore them into pieces and gave us each one. “Crush it and then smell the leaf.” Turns out it was the allspice tree – and the leave smelled wonderful. I put my leaf into a pocket of my camera case and I smelled it yesterday and it still had a little of the scent left.
On we went through the jungle until we came out at the Mask Temple, named for the huge stone carved mask at the bottom of the temple. In order to protect it from the elements they have built a shed type roof over it. Carlos was passionately of the opinion that the original should be removed and preserved and a presentably copy put in its place. It seems that it still needs periodic maintenance and, as we all agree, each time a little of the original is lost.
I could go on and on about Lamani but you really need to see it yourself. Carlos said that the city (Lamani means “submerged crocodile”) extends two mile in from the river and ten miles along it and so far they have had the funding to only excavate 7 buildings. Just seven. But, one of the seven is the “High Temple” – at 110’ it is the highest of all the Mayan ruins found so far. And climbing up and down it is a real trip. It is steeper than it first appears (and that is steep!!) and the darn steps aren’t made for humans, period. The “rise” and “run” is all fouled up. I found going up was easy if you used both arms and legs and didn’t look down. Did I mention that the women elected to watch me from a stone seat they found? Well, at least their calves and thighs didn’t bother them the next day! But, all in all, the climb to a site above the jungle canopy was really well worth it. You could see for miles and the river was spread out before you. What a view! I took regular pictures and then decided to take a movie, turning in a slow circle but the footing was really rough so I ended up going as far as I could go without moving my feet because I wasn’t going to do that without looking down!
We eventually moved on several hundred yards down a flat corridor with mounts on either side – more temples awaiting future excavation according to Carlos. We then came upon the “royal place ruins” and the Jaguar Temple… all mysterious and beautiful. I took a ton of pictures, of course. The whole place had quiet air and a real sense of antiquity to it, not sinister, but just a feeling that time had stood still there. I would love to revisit after more mounds have been excavated, but there is no telling how long before that happens.
We came back down the trail to the park buildings and Carlos gave us a few minutes to visit the shops and then we went through the entire trip in reverse. The only thing of note that occurred on the way back was humorous (to most of us) and should serve as a warning to all. It is a long boat ride back from the mainland to the island – long and bumpy ride! Be careful how much beer and rum punch you drink. And be very sure to visit the restroom when getting off the van before getting on the boat with the Yamaha 200’s. I didn’t and before very long the fast and bouncy ride began to make life very uncomfortable and then very painful. A young guy across from me in the boat asked the guys about a pit stop and they laughed and one of them jumped up and climbed over the stern and stood between the motors in “the position” for a moment. Every one laughed (except him and me) and then the torturer showed how some women had managed to squat sideways back there. All this time the damn boat is jumping from wave to wave – each jolt causing me to wince and wonder how long 60 year old bladders can hold together. I kept waiting for the other guy to give in but he appeared willing to suffer on in silence so I elected to make it easier for him. I politely yelled at the driver and made him realize that I was ready to make use of the potty. He cut power and up I went into “the position”, trying to avoid the engines as best I could. Sure enough, even amid the snickering the other guy followed me. Everyone had a good laugh, but I really didn’t’ care at that point!! The other two young guys said “no problem” – but I noticed that they did not appear happy and they fairly flew off the pier to find a restroom (as did my ladies)!
Again, I can’t remember right now exactly where we ate that evening – but it must have been good – we didn’t have a bad meal, ever! Ah hah! Now I remember. We decided, once we got back PV’s and cleaned up, that we needed to go to Wet Willy’s to have a rum punch or two and decide where to go that night. Fate decided things and there was the “Usual Suspects” starting up just we walked in. We grabbed a table, ordered some fries and something and talked to the band again during the breaks. Had a great time! The day had worn us out so it wasn’t really late when we headed back to PV.