Riding the chicken bus is never boring. Like this morning, a cow escaped from God knows where and slowed the traffic down. I also love how locals use pickup trucks: the back is really handy to carry entire families.
Using San Ignacio as a base, we decided to visit the two archeological sites nearby: Xunantunich and Cahal Pech.
First, Xunantunich. We took the small ferry to cross the river, and hiked to the site, a one mile walk uphill. We could hear monkeys and spotted a few iguanas, as well as huge ants.
The old Maya site is pretty impressive, mostly the top pyramid with the glyphs that we climbed. Up there, alone, with a light breeze, it felt like paradise. It was anyway until we heard a strong Texan accent and the bus of tourists caught up with us.
Climbing pyramids isn’t easy, the limestone gets really slippery. But going down is even worse, and there are no handrail or barrier—you have to be really careful where you step.
The second site we visited after a filling Belizean lunch (rice & beans, fried plantain, stewed meat) was Cahal Peche. This time, we took a taxi to skip the long uphill climb. It was close to 4 p.m. and the site was empty. The sun was slowly setting and only a few rays of light made it through the dense vegetation. It was like stumbling upon a lost world!
We stayed on top of the main pyramid for a while, watching two huge hawks above our head (apparently, we looked like dinner).
The Mayas are such a fascinating culture… At the height of their empire, they controlled huge cities like Tikal and Caracol, and they built these amazing sites, complete with ball courts, pyramids, glyphs etc. And then, suddenly, the civilization collapsed. No one has been able to explain why. A lost civilization… another one.