sunset in the jungle
So this time I have a good excuse for not writing…David and I went on vacation to Belize. David and I both knew that if we stayed at home, I would either work all break or go crazy sitting around and knitting all day. So we chatted with friends, looked up flights on Kayak, and then decided to book a trip to Belize. Since I know David’s pictures are more interesting than verbose descriptions, I’ll let the pictures tell the story….
a glimpse at our tree house
Our trip began with a visit to Ian Anderson’s Caves Branch. David likes to call this place summer camp for adults because its an all-inclusive place where you eat meals in common, sleep in tree-houses (ok, they were just called tree houses they were actually really nice), and then go on adventure excursions. While the adventures were incredible (more to come in a minute), we really loved the community atmosphere the place fostered. At the end of each day people would gather in the pool or around tables for dinner and talk about the adventures they had been on earlier in the day. A couple nights we sat around for a good couple hours getting to know people. It was really cool.
The Waterfall Excursion:
the entrance to the cave
the bats that greeted us when we entered the cave
To be honest, I was dreading our first excursion a little. A major reason David wanted to go to Caves Branch was for a trip called the “Waterfall Excursion.” Here’s the plan for this trip: you hike 2 miles into a pitch black – spider, crab, and mayan ghost filled – cave, then you risk your life climbing up
the cave's brain-sucking larva (or so our guide said)
seven waterfalls, varying in height from a couple feet to twenty feet. Then when you reach the top of the last waterfall you turn around, jump down the waterfalls and hike out of the cave. Now I ask you, with all this life-risking, etc. wouldn’t it seem smarter to just avoid the cave. Turns out no…because it was AWESOME! Probably my favorite day. One of the best ways to grasp how crazy and awesome this trip is all at the same time, you have to watch the following videos of me climbing up and then jumping down the largest of the seven waterfalls.
Climbing up: In the first part of the video you see me listening as the guide explains how to get up the waterfall. You’ll notice that I ask a lot of questions. I think that’s my subconsious way of trying to get out of actually climbing the waterfall. Jumping down: In the second part, you see our other guide jump part of the way down. Then I follow. Next he instructs me how and where to jump. You’ll notice that he does a lot of pointing. What he is saying is, you see the white spots on the left and right and directly down? Don’t jump there, that’s rock. Then he points again, jump there. I look at him and then ask, is this the only way down. He then lies and says yes. I count to three and then jump.
checking out the mayan ruins in the cave
The Black Hole Drop:
our rappel began at the end of the tree line above this cave opening
Our second excursion is called the black hole drop. Here’s the plan for this trip. You hike a couple miles into the jungle to this sink hole. Once you reach the top, you rapel down the side of the cliff and into the hole. Then you climb back out. Going in, I was less nervous about the trip…until I got to the top. Then I was really nervous. But once I got the hang of it (no pun intended), it was pretty fun. Truth be told. The guides did most of the work to get me down. I just hung on the rope, trying to take in the view without freaking out. The hardest part was probably the hike in up these really steep cliffs.
'rappelling' down the mountain
a mayan pyramid partly excavated
For our final trip we took a three hour trip across the border into Guatemala to the Mayan ruins of Tikal. Tikal is at present the largest known and excavated site of Mayan ruins in central America. Which is crazy given that of the 222 sq miles of land only a tiny portion has been excavated. We got to see five temples, a pyramid, former lodgings, and much more. One of the temple reaches over 200 hundred feet and has really incredible views of the entire park. What I found most interesting about the site was how much of it was still underground. We would walk by
pushing over temple 1
these huge hills and our guide would say, that’s another temple/pyramid/lodge/etc. that still needs to be excavated. Above, David took a really cool pictures of one of the pyramids. Only two of the four sides have been fully cleared. One could probably wax poetic about the theological and ecological significance of this, but since I already bored David to death talking about it on the drive back to the Lodge, I won’t go on about it here.
david and i had a lot of fun exploring the ruins
Sadly, our trip at the Caves Branch had to come to an end. But we weren’t too sad because the vacation continued…find out more later this weekend!