Xunantunich, Cayo District Belize
Towering 130 above the landscape this ancient temple dominates the area. However the trip to this temple can be quite eventful. Our day started as we five adventurers from the U.S. with our Maya driver and guide boarded our Ford van for the trip to Xunantunich, one of the most famous temples in Belize. As we passed through the little town of San Ignacio we came to the river crossing.
Needless to say, it wasn’t what I had expected.
The only way to cross the river was on a small, one vehicle ferry. As we entered the ferry I noticed that it wasn’t tied securely to the bank and it floated away from the bank as we drove on to it. It was then that I noticed it was powered by a hand crank being operated by the ferry boat captain.
The river crossing was exciting but uneventful, having crossed to the other side we proceeded up the river bank and drove to the top of the hill and the temple. It was quite impressive sitting on the top of a mountain, the view from the top was rather spectacular, being high above the jungle we could see for miles. The site was cleared with a small picnic shelter nearby. It being nearly 1 PM, and not having had lunch we boarded the van for the trip back into town to find the closest restaurant.
As we approached the river we noticed that there might be a problem as traffic was backed up on both sides of the river. A pick-up truck had tried to board the ferry, but when they drove onto the boat, the ferry started to move, which spooked them. The driver did exactly the wrong thing as he applied the brakes , that action caused the ferry to move from the bank which resulted in the truck dropping off the edge of the ferry , sinking window deep into the water.
The locals had tied a chain to a truck parked on the road above the pick-up but were having little success getting the pick-up out of the river.
As this was all happening, suddenly there came the sound of two cars racing down the street towards the Saturday afternoon crowd that had gathered to watch. As they came racing towards the 100 or so people, some of them began to scatter, however, one of the cars plowed into the crowd with bodies flying everywhere. It actually hit the chain that was attached to the pickup truck and flipped over on top of a child. After the car had rolled over the child he got up and ran off without a scratch. A couple other boys weren’t so lucky, they lay silent on the road. Our tour guide stripped down to her underwear and dove into the water to help. The next thing we knew she was helping put one of the boys onto a piece of metal roofing that was being used as a stretcher and off they went to a hospital in Guatemala. No clothes and no passport.
It all turned out well as the boys survived and no one was killed. Our tour guide made it back safely wrapped in a bed sheet. Half starved, we finally had dinner at the hotel that evening.
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Gary has been a writer/ photographer for over 20 years, specializing in nature, landscapes and studying native cultures.Besides visiting most of the United States, he has traveled to such places as Egypt, the Canary Islands, much of the Caribbean. He has studied the Mayan Cultures in Central America, and the Australian Aboriginal way of life.Photography has given him the opportunity to observe life in many different parts of the world!
He has published several books about the various cultures he has observed.
For more information and a link to his hardcover and Ebooks, and contact information: please check his website.www.commonsensejourneys.com
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It doesn’t take long to discover that Belize is a land of contrasts. From the poverty and disarray of the cities to the quiet countryside, many differences are soon found. With poverty and crime running rampant in cities such as Belize City and Belmopan, the traveler has to be constantly aware of his surroundings and protect whatever is being carried. Remember, that camera hanging around your neck is worth more than the average Belizean earns in a year. All that aside, the Mayan people are wonderfully warm people many of whom go out of their way to please visitors. Traveling into the countryside one discovers thatch roof homes with no doors or windows. Because of the warm climate, they can live comfortably all year with a gentle breeze flowing through the open windows and doors. I was struck with the concept that although no utility lines were visible, a lot of homes had a satellite dish in the front yard.