We rolled into San Ignacio on the Belize-Guatemalan Boarder in the afternoon. A small community in the hills, it was all ready for visitors. Numerous lodging signs dotted roadway. However Sharleen did a fabulous job of finding just the right place for us. It was a small cabin that used to be in the middle of a gum tree harvest plantation. Our whole clan packed into one cabin for the duration of our visit to this wonderful mountain town.
Mountain Pine Ridge National Park
It was a long bumpy dirt road to the 1000 foot waterfall. Along the way the driver pointed out famous locations and some wildlife: “This is where Francis Ford Coppola comes to write his movies.” We stopped at Blancaneaux lodge for a light breakfast. We ate fruits and pastries while overlooking a small ravine and river. The pine forest is wonderful and was not what I expected in a tropical environment. The rolling hills and pine trees reminded me of some of the pine forests in the Sierra foothills. We arrived at the famed 1000 foot waterfall and walked down to an overlook point. We took some of the perquisite pictures between mosquito swats. To be clear, it was not a 1000 foot vertical drop, but more like 1000 foot rumble down a slightly steep hill.
Nestled in the park is the Rio Frio Cave system. A single cave disappeared into the large cave mouth. There wasn’t any walkways or lights, and as I was carrying Alyssa, we did not venture too far. Sharleen waited with Alyssa, as I went farther in. With no flashlight I couldn’t go much farther. It was a large cavern, and people were climbing all over different parts taking pictures.
Alyssa was absolutely enchanted by the butterfly farm. Blue Morphos and others flit and fluttered around as she gazed in wonder. We watched a butterfly emerge from it’s cocoon, spent an hour watching their long proboscises slurp up bananas, pineapple, and other tropical treats left out for them to eat. From time to time the butterflies would land on our shirts or heads and this delighted all of us to no end.
These Mayan ruins are certainly smaller their their neighbors Tikal and Caracol, however they are every bit as enjoyable. We could climb in, over, and through many of the structures to gain an appreciation of Mayan life. Excavated in 1988 and restoration finished in 2000, these ruins were build around 1200 BC. This site was the a Royal Family household. Life is a funny thing sometimes. We all work so hard to build something for our family and in the end what is left. In the case of this family it was stones and shells of what their life was. For us what we attempt to build for our family is experience. The testament to our life is not the things we left behind but the experiences on our journey. It is our hope that builds a better tomorrow for our progeny.
In the shade of the forest we were able to take our time and appreciate life of a royal Mayan family. Just like in Tikal, the cities were abandoned in the ninth century. I asked every guide I could, and no one had a definitive reason why.
Read about our day trip to Tikal (click here)