6:00 am. Rise for a mainland trip to Lamanai. My tenth logged trip to San Pedro/Belize and this will be my first trip to the mainland, other than sliding into the airport, hitting Jets and then the puddle jumper to Ambergris Caye.
7:00. KLC and I sit out on the beach and wait for Daniel Nunez with Tanisha Tours to arrive. I take notice of the day. It’s gray, cloudy and I hope that Tanisha has not canceled the trip for fear of bad weather. I watch the various fishing boats come to the pier to collect the day fishermen. I have to laugh as the group seems to be a large collection of friends that are deciding who goes with which guide. Daniel arrives with a full boat, we load up and head out to the mainland. Mrs. Reaper, Morgan and Alex are on our Lamanai tour. Another group of zip liners are on our boat as well. A quick synopsis of the day from Daniel, along with a few rules and we are on our way. I have never taken the water taxi from the mainland to Ambergris Caye, so this was a new experience for me. I really enjoyed the sights of the mangrove islands as well as some of the smaller islands that we passed along the way. I looked up and noticed that the clouds were trying to break and some blue sky was starting to show through. When we arrived at the mouth of the river, we started making our way up the river to the point where we would catch the bus to the new river. Not far upriver, Daniel noticed a few mantatees. There were few large ones with a baby or two. It was so interesting to be able to see them in their natural habitat. They were so subtle, so demure as they rose to the surface to breathe. Such gentle creatures.
Further up the river we received homemade banana nut bread and orange juice for our breakfast. It was so good and so refreshing!
We got to the dock where we caught the 45 min. bus ride to the New River boat dock to where we would take a 26 mile boat ride to Lamanai. Having never been on the mainland before, I was taken aback at how much the view on the way looked much like the south Louisiana countryside that I grew up in. I know we were in Belize and in the river flood plain, but seeing pine trees and boating up the New River reminded me so much of the bayou and back roads that I traveled down as a kid. We caught up with Kerry from the ACMB board and were on our way up the New River.
On the way up the New River I was amazed at all the birds and wildlife that Daniel was able to spot (pretty much on the fly) and how he would slow down, go back and point out each and every one. The one that I could not get over were the little bats clinging to the side of one of the trees that were hanging over the river. Daniel’s knowledge of the wildlife and also of the ancient Mayan is remarkable.
We got to the Lamanai ground and had an extremely great lunch of stewed chicken, rice and beans, cole slaw and salad. It was more than I had expected. I was thinking it was going to be sandwich and chips lunch. But it was better than that and there was plenty to go around. (I think quite a few had seconds!)
We finished lunch and then met at the start of the trail for a trip that I’m still in awe over. As we walked down the trail to the first temple, we heard a howler monkey (that I have yet to see) and saw so many varieties of palms, ferns, phylodendrums (sp?), ferns and trees that it overwhelmed me. We made our way to the mask temple where an excavation is taking place. More areas are being found in and around the temples that have yet to be uncovered.
We make our way to the largest temple and I see people climbing up and down the main steps. I am trying to decide whether or not I want to attempt the trek, but half way up, I chicken out. (I know, I can jump out of a completely good airplane, but I can let Morgan out-climb me!) I get a few good shots on the steps and decide to make my way back to terra firma!
We finish our guided tour at the Jaguar Temple. Daniel explains the Jaguar heads and how they come into play during the various rituals performed by the Mayans.
We load back up onto the boats and head home. But we have one more surprise that everyone enjoys. Daniel pulls up into a little cove and whistles. Two spider monkeys come down to the bow of the boat. While the male, a little more apprehensive than the female, stays up in the trees, the female comes down to procure whatever she can from the tourists. She is given pineapple for her appearance and then she is soon on her way back to the tree tops to join her mate. I think the adults enjoyed that almost as much as the kids!
Soon we head back into open water for our ride home. I am once again enjoying the scenery as well as the memories of an ancient place that still holds me in wonder.
As I look back at the tour of Lamanai, I am still in awe. I sit on my couch, while typing on a laptop computer that should somehow make me superior to a third-world inhabitant. But for the likes of me, I somehow feel that the Mayan had us all beat as far as visionaries and the ability to think ahead.
As far as taking Tanisha Tours and Daniel Nunez as a tour guide for anything…………… I hold them with high regard and would recommend them to anyone! They are a first rate company with the knowledge and skill that would help anyone gain a little more insight into Belize or the surrounding area that they would chose to tour. I feel that if it were a snorkel tour of Hol Chan, a beach BBQ or any one of the various Mayan ruin tours, you would get your monies worth, while learning a lot of history of the area.
My hat is off to you Daniel, Elodia and Tanisha Tours. Thank you all for a most enjoyable time and I wish you the best in the years to come! I will see you again my next trip down.