Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Preface to "Marco Gonzalez Archaeological Reserve"

    Down on Ambergris Caye in Belize recently, my wife and I were faced with so many choices of just which Maya Ruins to visit. Actually it seemed as if there were too many choices and there it was on our "Things To Do in Belize" list. 
    We could go to Altun Ha, for instance, "the site where famous Jade Head of Kinich Ahau the Sun God was found. It consists of thirteen temples and two plazas. The most famous temple is the logo of Belikin Beer and is featured on the bottle. Flourishing during the Classic Period of Maya civilization, Altun Ha is located 30 miles north of Belize City and six miles from the Caribbean Sea."    
(Above photo stolen from ~ http://www.corozalbay.biz/altun.JPG 
Below is an original of mine.)
    We eventually decided that the Lamanai ("submerged crocodile") Tour sounded like a good deal. All we'd have to do is call up one of the many places that would set up a flight or boat trip to the mainland around sunrise, transfer us "to New River departure point in an air-conditioned vehicle.... board a boat for a 26 mile river ride to the site of the Lamanai Mayan Ruins," inticing further us with the prospect that we "might be able to spot crocodiles, Iguanas, exotic birds, manatees, bats and other wildlife during this boat ride." And then have a Free Lunch, "Belizean Rice & Beans, Stewed Chicken and Cole Slaw along with a refreshment," after which a "Licensed Tour Guide will take you (us) to explore the Lamanai Mayan Ruins, explain how the Maya lived here, climb the Maya Ruins, take a photo next to the huge stone mask, view the howler monkeys and explore the on site museum," and then eventually pack us back off to where we started, after sunset. 
(Stolen Lamanai images from the same source above)
    Since it was "the wrong season," as one or more of the locals let slip in conversation, we had been playing everything by ear, as they say, which meant keeping our weather eyes peeled, as they say. Often it looked like this from our room: 

    Young Greg from Ohio and I were up to witness just about every sunrise at the Resort, as if it would help us get our money's worth out of our vacations. He did the trip to Lamanai one day and, although the rain never let up for a single minute, he really enjoyed the experience. Young Greg is a single man and I have been married for 30 years. It did not take long for me to imagine how my wife would feel about having the same experience in the rain (for double the price Young Greg had shelled out). I began to think that the visit to the ruins on the mainland might not be a good idea. It was incredibly fortunate that my wife was very understanding about this (I suspected that this wasn't at the top of her list anyway) and that just 5 miles south of our hotel was an "undeveloped" Maya Site, a "gem in the rough" I'd read, which was really more "up my alley" than some typical tourist type of a tour. I couldn't think of any better way to see if there were some "Maya Connections" between this site and the sites that I've stumbled around here at home for the last twenty years - and the sites I have experienced vicariously with an ever widening circle of friends via the "Worldwide Internet."
     My mind was made up when a woman who appeared to be an "ex-patriot" having a morning coffee at the "palapa" (literally "shelter") barely visible through the rain in the photo above said a person "would have to be crazy to go there this time of year." 
    I do have a reputation to maintain, I thought...

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