Thursday, June 3, 2010

Belize - Planes, Termites, and the Macal River

So, I'm supposed to leave Tuesday morning at 8:30 am and fly into Miami, and from Miami to Belize. AmericanAirlines calls me at 2 and tells me that my flight has been canceled. Not cool. So instead I have to fly into Dallas and from Dallas to Belize. Okay...not so bad. There is a group of 8 of us from the class, out of a total of 13, who get routed this way. At least we weren't alone!!

We make it to Dallas. We have our 20 minute layover and get on the plane for Belize. After sitting there for about 30 minutes after we should have taken off the pilot announces that we're just waiting on a passenger who is on a late layover. Thats fine. Another half our goes past. Pilot announces that a truck has bumped against one of the engines and we're just going to have to wait while it gets checked out. He's "umm"-ing and "eeer"-ing the whole time, i lean out of my seat, see into the cockpit - he's playing with his iphone. Another half hour goes past, a stewardess announces that we'll be off the ground in minutes. She comes on again about 15 minutes later and says "Off the plane, Engine has been puncture" - HOW THE HELL DO YOU PUNCTURE A PLANE WITH A TRUCK!? okay....calm down. It's fine.

We all get off and go sit in the air port. The 21+ kids get some drinks, thats fine. We wait 45 minutes for another plane. We're all pretty grumpy. We're 3 hours behind schedual now!! We finally get on the plane and it takes off immediatly which is good, because frankly - they were about to have tipsy, rioting archaeologists on their hands.

Much ado later, we make it to Belize. As we're flying in I look out the window and think we're still over the ocean. After a moment, I realize it's not ocean, it's rainforest. I'm flipping out. We finally land and by god, if our luggage didn't make it with us!! We were thrilled. We find Dr. Powis, load our luggage into the van and head off for the hotel. It's a 2 hour drive from the airport to the hotle, from the east coast to the western side of the country.

We get to the hotel, get some dinner and head off for bed. We're all exhausted. There is no AC in the rooms, just fans and screens. It's hot. It's humid. I debate sleeping on the tile floor. Finally, I get cooled off enough and fall fast asleep.
Big day tomorrow, time to go hike El Pilar - the first of our temple visits!!

The next morning, we head down from the rooms at 7 am to the bar/restraunt area where all the meals are served. Breakfast is a delicious combination of a hot bean paste, hot pastries, and freshly squeezed oj. We all eat quickly, load up in the vans, and set off for El Pilar which is about an hour away.

Let me tell you about these vans....the one that I feel the safest in as 780,000+ miles on it - and no, thats not a typo. If that is the safe one, imagine the other one. Terrifying. No AC, so all the windows down. All dirt roads so lots of bumping and bouncing. Fun actually. Anyways, on to El Pilar.

El Pilar is an site in western Belize that has yet to be excavated. Everything is covered in giant mounds of dirt, bushes, trees, and rocks. It's still very easy to identify the type of structures that are under the mounds because of the shape of the mounds. For example, the temples are taller than wide and the houses are wider than tall. Of course, as we're hiking up a mound to the top, I stumble and now have temple rug burn down my leg. I feel fancy. As we're hiking along we come across a termite mound. Dr Powis encourages us to eat said termites. Did you know termites taste like carrots? I know that now! The other very cool thing about El Pilar is that you can see Guatamala from the rop of the ruins and the ruins have an old road that connects them to a sister site in Guatamala. We hiked the ruins for about 3 hours before heading out.

After El Pilar we went into town and had lunch at a small restraunt called Pacz - I had rice and beans and pork. Yum yum yum!! It was incredible. Also, all the soft drinks down here, like coke, are made with real sugar - no corn syrup. You can feel the sugar rush coming as you drink one.

After lunch, we headed back to the hotel and changed into swim attire. Dr Powis took us to the crystal pools - about 10 minutes away driving - to cool off and swim around. We spent about an hour there. We then came back to the hotel and hiked down to the river that runs behind the hotel - about a 10 minute treck walking. The river is called the Macal River and it is one of the biggest rivers in Belize. We all spent about 2 hours down there wedge up in the rocks and just letting the current cool us down.

For dinner, we headed out to a restraunt called Hode's (hoe-dee). It's a local place where all the archaeologists hang out. They served the best cheese and chicken burritos with a coleslaw side and rice and beans. We chilled there for a couple hours and then went over to the shopping district - didn't buy anything, yet. Just scooping it out for now. It's so incredibly cheap though!!

Next post will be about Xunantunich and Cahal Pech.

Links for photos will be posted later

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