09212018Headline:
5 Green Reasons Costa Rica Is the Poster Child of the Environment 5 years ago
Have You Tried Guanacaste’s Fastest Growing Sport? 5 years ago
Was Your Costa Rican Bank Account Closed? 5 years ago
Latin America Investment News on Viva Tropical

Belize Surprises and Stuns

Article Summary:

Belize is stunning, no doubt. Its natures is intense and so is its ancient civilization.

Photo Credit: Sea Explore

Original Article Text From Miami Herald:

Two wild sides of Belize

Nature in Belize is intense. Like most people who find their way here, I was responding to that call of the wild: the growl of the jaguars roaming Mayan ruins in the dense jungle of the interior and the waves breaking over the hemisphere’s largest coral reef.

Tucked between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast, Belize provides two very different experiences, and in one week I explored both — the mystery of ancient cities in the jungle and the astounding beauty of 70 species of corals on the reef.

No one can forget the roar of howler monkeys swinging in the tropical canopy or the sight of the largest fish in the world, the whale shark, which is as long as a school bus.

First on my agenda was the jungle.

A white-hot sun bore down on the small boat as we rode upriver through the thick rain forest of northern Belize.

We were headed to the ancient Maya city of Lamanai. It’s a place of dark secrets, not the least of which was the cause of its demise. The city, which once had a population of 50,000, was buried by dirt and foliage for four centuries until archaeologists started an excavation in the 1970s.

Only five buildings have been uncovered. More than 730 buildings remain hidden in the firm grip of the jungle, an entire city never seen by modern eyes.

We could have driven the 38 miles on a teeth-rattling dirt road from the nearest town of Orange Walk, but it’s only 26 miles by boat. Most people take the river.

Our boat slowly cruised up the New River past crocodiles resting on the muddy banks, seemingly immobilized by the tropical heat. One of them came to life and slid into the water, his ridged tail propelling him swiftly across the surface, his eyes locked on the boat. Just when I thought he was going to come aboard, he dropped like a stone to the river bottom.

The commotion startled a roseate spoonbill, which flew across the river to a high branch, its 4-foot hot-pink wingspan and spatula-shaped bill a sight to behold. A red jacana’s long toes allowed the bird to spread its weight and run across the water on lily pads. Bats napping on the shady side of a tree trunk below stalks of banana orchids didn’t budge.

As the boat slowly rounded the next bend, we were in for another surprise, a half-dozen naked Mennonite farmers cooling off in the river, their pale skin — except for sun-reddened forearms, necks and faces — clearly visible in the shallow water. Straw hats, blue work shirts and overalls were piled on a pier.

Not shy, they waved enthusiastically. I automatically waved back, but my eyes were busy scanning the water for submerged crocs. The Mayan word “Lamanai,” by the way, means “submerged crocodile.”

Two hours into the jungle, we finally tied up at a pier, and walked up the hillside toward the ancient city. The dense canopy of trees filtered the sunlight down to an eerie twilight.

A hairy tarantula, as wide as a man’s splayed hand, scurried across the dirt and into a burrowed hole. A troop of endangered black howler monkeys followed us, swinging from the treetops. Suddenly the unearthly quiet was pierced by a monkey’s fierce roar, a blood-curdling howl that can be heard for 20 miles.

The monkey, I thought, was warning us away, but we soon saw the High Temple through the mahogany and strangler fig trees.

The three of us, the guide and a friend, automatically halted as we stepped from the jungle and stood transfixed in front of the temple. A breeze brought the heady fragrance of allspice, bay leaves and the seeping resin of the copal tree, which was made into an intensely aromatic incense burned at the temple long ago. With no other people on the paths, it was easy to imagine the ancient civilization that lived in this jungle.

Link to Original Article:

From Miami Herald

Latin America Investment News on Viva Tropical