Ok.... starting with more ruins -
I've been to Altun Ha twice (the last time was when my parents were here - A week with the 'rents)
and to Lamanai once (I have a second trip planned for next week)
Altun Ha is one of the smaller Maya ruins sites - but it's pretty easy to climb and totally easy to get to, either on your own or with a tour guide.
Don't quote me on this (because I'm a horrible judge of time) but I think it only took an hour, hour and a half to get there (31 miles north) from Belize City.
(email me if you're looking for a guide, I know some good dudes.)
It has to have been at least four years since I've been to Lamanai - which is why I'm planning on going again at the end of the week - but I remember taking a water taxi from San Pedro over to a cute little village called Bomba, where we caught a bus and took a ridiculously long ride to get to another boat that ended up at Lamanai.
Maybe it's been replaced by now.
They don't look very big, but they sound like they could rip your head right off if they wanted to.
I don't remember if I was just too afraid to climb it (which is totally possible) or if I bailed out because I had just had my first experience with Leaf Cutter ants, which SUCK.
I will climb it next week, though..... I think. Maybe even more than once, since I'll be testing out all of my flip-flops
I've taken the Coastal Highway - which connects the middle of the Western Highway with the end of the Hummingbird Highway, making it unnecessary to go all the way to Belmopan.
That doesn't sound like a big deal, and it really isn't.... but not a lot of people have bothered taking the Coastal Highway once they read about how horrible it can be -
36 miles of gravel road that has rickety old, wooden bridges that get washed away and potholes the size of elephants during the rainy season.
During the dry season, it's just dusty as hell and super bumpy, and, you know, it isn't safe to drive fast on gravel... so it doesn't end up being much of a short cut. At all.
You're way better off going to Belmopan to jump on the Hummingbird Highway, which is a more scenic drive, anyway. (My favorite highway in Belize)
There are so many places you can stop at along the Hummingbird Highway, too - waterfalls, little roadside restaurants and bars, parked wagons with Mennonites selling watermelons out of their horse-drawn wagons
Davis Falls in Alta Vista
you don't cross the river 7 times and have to use the winch to pull the truck out of at least four situations (this link should take you to the youtube video) and NOT get in that chilly water.
Cafe De Amor in Steadfast
homemade ice cream (and cheese, sour cream, chocolate milk, etc) from the Mennonite owned and operated country barn
And there are the bigger attractions along the Hummingbird Highway - like Ian Anderson's Cave's Branch, The Inland Blue Hole, and St. Herman's Cave...
the awesome jungle pool at Cave's Branch
One day, when I'm better prepared, I'd like to try to make it all the way there... but I believe I put in a damn good effort the first time!
I must have climbed up and through the rainforest for a good two and a half hours before I had to turn around and complete the scarier task of climbing back down...
It was probably only 3pm or so when I gave up (I suggest getting an early start if you want to do it) but it was already starting to get dark in there and, since it was the rainforest, it was completely humid, everything was super slippery and the mosquitoes had been feasting on me the whole time.
the easiest part of the hike, and it was, like, straight up the side of a mountain.
after this I had to put the camera away and dedicate two hands to the mission
way easier to get to, the Inland Blue Hole-
a pretty, sapphire blue, 25 foot pool filled by an underground source
so clear and beautiful
The Hummingbird Highway comes to an end in Dangriga - and if you've been following my blog for a little while then you've probably seen a lot of pictures from down there.... but here there are, anyway.
I really, really miss it there.