Saturday, June 5, 2010

Xunantunich, Cahal Pech, and Actun Pech

First of all, I would like to thank my bandana. You were once a very pretty pale blue - now you are kind of grey-blue and disgusting. It's only be 4 days and you've already absorbed my sweat, tears, and more of my blood than I would like. During the day, you keep the sweat off my forhead and at night you become my wash cloth to scrub off the grime of the day. You've craddled precious artifacts and you've defended me from beligerent bugs. Thank you bandana, you are the best friend an archaeologist could ask for.

Second of all, my legs hate me more than they have ever hated me in my entire life. They're considering a boycott of all things "Kady". I'm sorry legs, welcome to archaeology fat camp.

Finally, before the blog post, I would like to give a message the beettle that took a chunk out of my toe. I hope you choke.

Some Mayan words -
Pech: tick
Tun: stone
Actun: cave

Day two - Xunantunich (shoe-nan-two-nich) and Cahal Pech

Xunantunich means the "stone maiden" in Mayan. The old legend is that young woman is often seen in the temple grounds crying and wailing. She will pass into the stone walls and disappear if she is approached.

Xunantunich is one of the bigger Mayan sites in western Belize. The main temple is 100 feet high and is a throne to the jaguar god. My group was able to climb to the very top of the temple. The site has many many carvings of other gods also. There is Ixchel who is the goddess of medicine and women and then the twin gods who hold the sky up, but that is just to name a few. The site, like all Mayan sites are set up around a courtyard, with a temple or building at north, east, west, and south. The eastern buildings are usually used for burials and offerings.

Cahal Pech means "the place of ticks". Lovely to think about isn't it?

Cahal Pech is a much much smaller site than Xunantunich. It is also where my proffesor first excavated! We were able to climb a lot of ruins there as well. It was a hell of a hike up the stone steps that were overgrown with moss - scary to say the least. The breeze at the top was wonderful though!! The coolest part of Cahal Pech was being able to see the origional red paint on some of the buildings.

Thank God I left without any new tick friends!!

Day three - Cahal Pech

This hike nearly killed me. Seriously. It was three miles straight up into the Maya Mounains. No joke, straight up. This cave, Cahal Pech, was the single most amazing thing I've ever been into. We had to lower ourselves down on ropes into the caves. I can't talk about what we found down in the caves, because it's classified and not allowed to be posted online but I will for sure update everybody face to face!! The farm from where we started had the most amazing fruit. We got to eat fresh coconut from the trees, fresh mango, and knip. Knip is a tiny green fruit with a hard shell, you peel the shell back and the fruit is BRIGHT orange. The seed is almost the entire fruit but the little bit of meat that comes off the knip is amazing. It's tangy and sweet, very refreshing.

Tomorrow is Caracol and the Blue Hole (maybe?)

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