Thursday, February 28, 2019

2-28-2019 Maya Ruins with Danny and Hilary

A couple friends from Indiana, Danny and Hilary, came for a visit to Belize. They wanted to see Maya ruins, so we drove over to the Cayo District to show them a couple of our favorites. It was a fabulous day.

Our first stop was Xunantunich near the village of San Jose Succotz. This big sign is new since our last visit.

You still take a short ferry ride across the Mopan River to get to Xunantunich.

On the drive there Cara saw a couple on the side of the road looking at something in the trees,
so we immediately stopped and walked over to find howler monkeys - yay!

It was nice there weren't very many people there at 11 am on a Thursday.

Danny and Hilary

This was totally covered last time we were here. Now it is getting excavated.

We're curious what's under the metal sheets.

Heading up to El Castillo, which was probably a multipurpose complex where the elite rulers
and their extended families lived and held court.

Checking out the first tier.

Eastern side view from the first tier.

The courtyard at the back of El Castillo.

Looking down at the courtyard from the top of El Castillo.

Steps to the top of El Castillo.

View of the Xunantunich grounds from the top of El Castillo.

This was being excavated last time we were here.

The western side of El Castillo and the friezes.

This structure is a small shrine that was likely used by the rulers and their families for private rituals. Also, in one of the
rooms they found a patolli board (for a game similar to Parchisi or Ludo) that probably also held ritual significance.

The round columns are not typical in Belize and indicate influence from northern Maya lowlands.

The structures straight ahead were still largely earth-covered last time we were here.

El Castillo

View of the Mopan River from the ferry.

After lunch and a quick stop at the Visitors Center in San Ignacio we headed to the Cahal Pech
Archaeological Site. In the Visitors Center this plaque shows some Maya history in Belize.

Cahal Pech chronology.

The Cahal Pech site is smaller and more intimate, but equally cool in its own way. We kind of like it better than
Xunantunich, and so did Danny and Hilary.

We only saw a couple other people here, so we pretty much had the place to ourselves.

There are lots more rooms at this site, and it's easier to envision the Maya living here.

In case you can't tell, Cara thinks the doorways are pretty cool.

View from the top of one of the tallest structures there.

Narrow, steps lead to/from the top.

You can barely see Hilary and Cara at the top of this structure.

One of several ball courts at Cahal Pech.