Monday, February 15, 2010

Altun Ha (Day 5)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Destination: Altun Ha, Belize

Today I woke up feeling better than I even had the day before. From our trip to Honduras on yesterday, I am now sporting my not so attractive burn lines, and a customary red nose. (As soon as I’m in the sun one day, regardless of how much sun screen I use, my nose becomes red for weeks and weeks.) I also have a new freckle on the top of my hand.

For the last three days, every time I’d walk out onto the balcony, I was met with a warm, yet cool (oxymoron?) breeze.

Today, however, was different, even first thing this morning, as soon as I walked outside, I was wacked in the face by, well, heat and humidity. Did I say hot? It was hot. Hot AND humid both. (Those are two descriptive words I never imagined using to describe the weather in January, seven days prior to my birthday.) Here it was though, January 20th, and the heat was nearly overwhelming, yet at the same time, exceptionally wonderful. (Heat in January? I live in Illinois. It is fantastic to be HOT in January.)

Despite the heat, I remained super excited because I was going to be visiting and seeing something I had ALWAYS wanted to see.

The Mayan Ruins.

There is something about archeology that has always fascinated me. The history behind it, the way people lived, imaging them moving and living. I was excited.

Each “excursion” group was to gather in a designated area on the ship. My family’s excursion gathered in the theater on the boat. We lined up together and exited the theater. We were herded down the hallways, and off the boat, similar to cattle being herded through a small place, and it was slow moving. On this day we were “tendered” to the dock. That almost sounds as though we were accosted with money, but no, not that type of “tender.” No one else will find that funny, but I do! (When the ports were not accessible to large ships, the ships have smaller boats, or tenders, pull up to the boat, load passengers, approximately 50 or so, and then pull up to the port.) We sat huddled on the boat, feeling rather warm and hoping that somehow the windows would open.

At the dock, we were once again herded as a group through hundreds of other people to get to our bus.

The bus was at least cool in temperature, although small and tight. Prior to heading to Altun Ha, we went on a bus tour of Belize City. The country of Belize is beautiful, but primitive. The roads are not in good condition. Not even in mediocre condition.

We were then on our way to Altun Ha! On our way to the ruins, the driver, Scotty, hit a pot hole, or more likely a ravine in the middle of the road. Everyone on the bus knew something was wrong, but Scotty charged ahead for another five minutes or so until we arrived at Altun Ha. The results of the run-in with the pot hole were NOT pretty. We ended up with not just a flat tire, but a tire with the front half of the rubber hanging off the wheel. (This picture does not adequately show the damage.) We continued with the tour as planned. There were ruins to see, however, so we charged ahead…to the bathrooms. Where we waited for a good 20 minutes for everyone, but then finally!

We walked through the ruins, looking, climbing, snapping photos, and trying to think cool thoughts. I could write about all the interesting facts about Altun Ha, but why rewrite what's already been written? If you would like to read more, click here.

On coming back to the bus, the tire was NOT fixed. We waited for help. I’m familiar with what happens when a tire goes flat, or rather becomes shredded. I’m familiar with tow trucks, and road size service. That being said, I’m not familiar with the road size service in offered in Belize. It came in the form of four men, a pick up truck, a sledge hammer, cinder blocks, oh and a huge tire. I sat on the bus and tried to take pictures through the foggy glass. Later I thought maybe I should have looked at the little shops, but I decided to take advantage of the air conditioning, and watch the excitement of the tire changing.

About an hour after they arrived we were on our way back to “town.”

I managed to sleep until we arrived back in Belize City. My mom and I were determined to find a place to have our passports stamped. (I neglected to mention that on Tuesday, on our way back to the ship, we passed right by a booth that stamped passports. We had been looking for the place that did give out the stamps, but we didn't realize it was right there!) Having our passports stamped from Honduras, we needed to have a Belize stamp as well. We walked all over, asked guards, asked different guards, were sent back to where we started from, asked again…Finally we found it.

My dad and brother were in line for the tender while my mom and I were wandering through the crowds looking for the passport “stampers." My dad gave my mom and I strict instructions as we parted ways. “Whatever you do, you better get back to the boat.”

Although the thought of living in a warm country sounded tempting, my mom and I made sure we made it back.
Next up, Costa Maya

No comments: