Thursday, July 22, 2010
After an early morning bird walk, we boarded the bus for Xunantunich, the largest Mayan ruin in the Belize River Valley. Unfortunately after copious amounts of rain, the Mopan River was too high to cross. So after buying souvenirs — cohune jewelry and slate carvings — from street vendors, we went with Plan B and headed to Cahal Pech.
Excavations at the Cahal Pech ruins have uncovered artifacts and structures from 600–800 A.D. Additional ruins, which are still buried, date back to 1200 B.C., when the Mayans first walked this area. We climbed over 70 ft. to the pinnacle of the temple, where Kelli and friends reenacted a Mayan sacrifice. While touring the ruins we learned about Jackass Bitters, a plant that tastes bitter to everyone except those with diabetes. We put this to the test with one of our diabetic participants and were astounded with the diagnostic results!
After a delicious burrito lunch at duPlooy’s Jungle Lodge (our lodging since Tuesday), we canoed nine miles of the Macal River, collecting figs for a later activity. High water again provided a few moments of excitement! Back at duPlooy’s, we learned about the intriguing relationship between fig wasps and figs.
Written by Lou Skrabec, Kelli Charles and Martha Flanagan
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