To get to Cahal Pech from the center of San Ignacio, head up Benque Viejo Road. We walked from Midas Resort, which is further out in the opposite direction of Cahal Pech but it was no problem at all. If you are near any of the major tour companies, including MayaWalk, PACZ, etc., it will be quite easy to find your way to these under-explored local ruins.
Once you get to the massive (for Belize) intersection seen below, walk towards the blue wall near the dirt path. The juxtaposition of the well preserved ruins against an industrial street is only another example of Belize's push for eco-tourism.
There will be a stadium to your left as you walk along the road. It was closed for construction while we were there but looked to be a massive undergoing project.
As you approach the fork in the road, you may or may not notice the tiny green sign in the middle of the black metal fence. This sign indicates that you are well on your way to Cahal Pech.
Simply walk up the dirt road to your right, on the side where Andrew is standing and make your way up the steep incline. I probably recall this much more dramatically than it really was, as the humidity was quite high in September while we were there. However, I still enjoyed going during this season as I dislike large tourist crowds (ironically, I currently live in Manhattan).
At the top of the hill, you will reach a visitor's center, at which point you will pay $10 BZ per person to enter the ruins. The visitor's center has a small museum to meander through that explains the origins and significance of Cahal Pech.
A few steps down the path and you will find yourself in Cahal Pech.
Being 5'3" tall (160 cm for my international readers), climbing the Maya stairs was much harder than expected. Especially since almost every step went up to my knees.
The great cohune palm. 'Tis literally a really hard nut to crack but apparently a resourceful part of the Maya existence. We only successfully cracked this nut by having a 180 pound man stomp on it. This palm tree provides cohune oil from its nuts, leaves for the roofing of Maya homes and is used for many other purposes.
The subsequent days were spent snorkeling the Belize barrier reef, the second longest barrier reef in the world after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia (we'll get there, no worries).
Fun fact: One of the reasons why Belize remained un-colonized by the Spanish was the barrier reef blocking direct access to the country. This barrier reef provided a natural blockade against the Spanish ships. Source: Salvador, our cool tour guide
We spent less time taking photos during our snorkeling trips and more time floating about in the warm waters. I also only had my point and shoot camera in a water resistant baggy, whereas most other people had their waterproof GoPros... Ahh, it would be so nice to have a GoPro for water activities like these.
We did make several underwater videos, all of which are potato quality but here is a video that is somewhat decent and features a one Mr. Didinchuk swimming alongside several sting rays.
It was manatee mating season and we were extremely lucky to see a manatee! It was a majestic beast with the most adorable face. However, we have no photos of the manatee or sea turtles as I didn't bring my camera for our 1 hour + swims to the coral reefs. This girl had to focus on staying afloat in the water as my treading skills are still pretty weak.
0/2 drowning scares as of this trip.
Bonus: Check out our meals ♥__♥
A sea turtle with dreads and the phrase "Go Slow" are really all you need to know about Caye Caulker.
Belize! BELIZE!! BERIZE!!
Oh, how I love you Belize and Caye Caulker even more so.
Upon landing in the Belize City airport, we caught a taxi to the Belize Water Taxi for $25 USD (I thought that was pretty pricey but it's the standard for a cab from the airport). Once we approached the vicinity, our backpacks were pulled from our hands by water taxi operators who said they'd pack our bags onto the next boat. The skeptic in me demanded their names and IDs but it turned out alright. In fact, the water taxi is amazing! Efficient service and honest people. I was initially concerned about my bags but there was no reason for concern.
Our first meal in Belize - freshly caught and grilled hogfish, rice and beans and some slaw by our main man Terry. Terry, you will probably never read this but we love you, man.
Literally just a few steps from the door of our awesome Airbnb, The Stoned Crab Hideaway, there were small piers for local fisherman to dock their boats. Luckily, most fisherman were out on the sea so we always felt as if we had our own private little piers.
We spent our first full day paddle boarding around the caye. We packed our snorkel gear and did tons of snorkeling off our paddle boards. Getting back on a paddle board when you're on the water is rough... I've got some bumps and bruises to show for it.
A half day was also spent kayaking around the caye and the northern caye past the famous Split (the Cancun of Belize). I do not have those photos at hand so I might wait to post any further Belize blogs until I acquire them. We did see a crocodile in the more shallow areas of the waters, near the mangroves. Thankfully, the crocodile was more afraid of us than we were of him so he swam/ran off rapidly away from our kayak. (I did scream and frantically paddled to get out of the vicinity so my ruckus may have be the source of fear for him as we approached.)
The water was incredibly calm on the west side of the island as it faces the mainland. The Belize barrier reef breaks all waves coming from the east side of the caye, but the water can still be quite turbulent with all of the boat activity.
Say hello to our puffer fish friend and the decapitated head of a barracuda.
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