Thursday, June 15, 2017

6-15-2017 Lamanai Tour

Lamanai (meaning "submerged crocodile") is a major Maya ruin in the Orange Walk District, in the north of Belize. It sits on the western shore of a spring-fed lagoon that is the source of the New River. This is one site we had never visited before, so we were excited. It is possible to drive an hour and a half to reach Lamanai, near the village of Indian Church, but everyone said to take the tour and arrive by boat. A friend recommended Lamanai Eco Tours, so we arrived at 9 am ready to go.

The grounds at Lamanai Eco Tours are simply beautiful.

We took the boat docked to the left.

The river is pretty, and we knew it would be full of wildlife.

We saw a spider monkey, and he came down to our boat for a plaintain.

This air plant is called "Devil's gut".

A fisherman in his dugout canoe called a dory.

At the bottom right you can see a bird standing on a lily pad - that is a Northern jacana (also known as a "Jesus bird" because
it appears to walk on water).

Below is a short video showing the cool boat ride to Lamanai.

The New River Lagoon

This is where the boats unload passengers.

The grounds at Lamanai are gorgeous!

Almost immediately we were greeted by a Keel-billed toucan, the national bird of Belize!

Then we saw a troop of howler monkeys!

All around on the ground were bits of broken pottery, some of which had been repurposed for
other uses - our guide, Carlos, said this had been made into a fishing weight.

Guide Carlos pointed out that this is the back (un-excavated) side of the Stela 9 Temple that
we would see later. 

Mask Temple

Construction began on the Mask Temple by 200 B.C. and it was modified several times between 200 B.C. and 1300 A.D.

There is evidence of walls, indicating that these masks were once concealed.

Former staircases have been covered up with newer construction.

The masks here are unique in the Maya world because they are carved out of blocks of limestone (normally they are sculpted
from plaster over a stone core).

Cara and her Mom, Deedra, atop Mask Temple.

Another howler monkey sighting!

High Temple - the tallest temple on the site, and initially constructed in 100 B.C., this temple was built on what had been a
residential area.

The view from near the top of Mask Temple.

You still have to go up the original stairs on the right to get to the top.

Panoramic view from the top of Mask Temple.



Stela 9 Temple - We saw the back (un-excavated) side of this temple on the walk here.

This stela was erected to celebrate the anniversary of the reign of "Lord Smoking Shell" on
March 7, 625 A.D. Buried under the stela were the remains of five children, which is unusual
for a monument dedication, and apparently they were not sacrifices.

More howler monkeys!

The Royal Complex

Jaguar Plaza and Jaguar Temple

Jaguar Temple was built in the sixth century, with major modifications in the eighth and thirteenth centuries, and small
shrines added at the foot of the stairs in the 1400's or later.

After the tour we had lunch under one of these nice palapas.

Cara checked out the small museum.

The original stela from Stela 9 Temple.

This is where the boat picks you up for the return. The boat ride coming here is slower because you are stopping to look at
wildlife, but on the return the boat just flies, and it's a blast!

On the drive back to the hotel we passed a bunch of trucks loaded with sugarcane, ready for transport. This is sugarcane
territory in the north of Belize.

Beauty abounds in Belize - this was at the hotel next door to our hotel.

After returning to our hotel, Cara's mother decided to rest a bit, and we walked around town to check it out.

We explored the grounds of this small museum this afternoon, but we visited the museum itself (no pictures allowed inside)
before leaving the next day.

Banquitas House of Culture is along the New River and has a nice park-like setting.

To the left of the clock tower is a nice big public square lined by shops.

In the center is an ode to Lamanai, and to the right is the Belize flag.

Hmmm...okay...a statue of a woman breastfeeding her child...definitely not offended here, but it
is quite an interesting choice for a statue in the public square.

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