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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Saturday 9th April, Belize City, Belize.

So we were early up and ready at the tenders for our tour at 8am. The tender today wasn't a lifeboat, but a massive, wide and flat bottomed boat provided by the port. Much comfier.

Once on the pier, we were split into 4 groups and loaded onto the buses for our Lamanai and New River Safari tour. I had bought a ticket, but it seems that they didn't have enough escorts, so my ticket was cancelled and Peter escorted bus 2 and I escorted bus 4. The buses were old, and our air-conditioning was only just working - but we had a couple of young lads as guides and they seemed knowledgeable enough - so we sat back and enjoyed the hour and a quarter bus ride to the next stop. I say enjoyed. The roads in Belize aren't exactly smooth. Even when we weren't being bounced through potholes, we were being bumped over traffic humps.

We were to go for a cruise along the New River followed by a visit to Lamanai, which is (I think), the largest Mayan city in the area. So after an hour and a bit, we got to the New River, had a brief comfort stop, and then were loaded onto our boats.
This cactus wraps itself around the branches and feeds off the tree.  In return it protects it.  Neat eh?
The "cruise" wasn't really a cruise because the boats were speed boats - the passengers had been informed in a letter earlier, but it certainly wasn't what I was expecting. Furthermore, the drivers loved to go as fast as possible, and they did exactly that. I was sort of sat in the middle, and remember mostly being deafened by the sound of the engine and being kept cool by the air whipping past.
Looking backwards from our "cruise" boat
Quite exhilarating for most I am sure. Personally, I was hoping for a slower cruise so that I could spend my time looking for wildlife. We did see a few birds whiz by, but they whizzed, so we never got to work out what they were. 

We reached Lamanai an hour or so later, and were taken on a walk around a few of the Mayan buildings excavated so far. I have to say they were really quite awesome.
The Jaguar Temple
This is a jaguar mask on the side of the temple (so we are told).
Apparently, Lamanai city was 10 miles long and 2 miles wide, was home to 40,000 people, and was in use as late as 1300 AD. 700+ buildings had been found so far but we didn't have the time to  explore any more than the small area we got to see.
But was brilliant. Amazing to see the buildings that so far we'd only ever seen on photographs, AND we got of a trio of Howler Monkeys in attendance.
The only fly in the ointment for my group was one of the passengers was determined that he was going to see what he wanted to see, not what the guides wanted to show him, and he kept wandering off - climbing over ruins and disappearing around corners. Luckily we had two guides, and the second one just kept an eye on him. Thing is, whilst most people were standing at the bottom of a temple, listening to a guide and trying to get photo's, he'd just storm straight up the middle, on steps that we had been specifically told not to use. Basically he was being inconsiderate and just plain rude! (Lots of mental tutting!)

Peter's group were ahead of mine, and as usual, he was enjoying himself. This time on the top of a Mayan temple.
And then, all too quickly it was time to go back. So ride in the speedboat until we got back to river pier, then a brief lunch provided by the tour company before we all got back on the buses. At 2.30 we set off to drive back to the ship.

At 2.40 there was a load of flapping noises and then a loud BANG. Yep! We'd got a flat. It was on the back of the bus where there are six wheels - so the decision was taken that we would continue the journey and a rescue bus would be sent to meet us further along the road. As we drove off, the burst tire flapped and banged against the bus, causing the already uneven ride to become even more so. As bumped along, our teeth rattling at the back, the air conditioning then decided it couldn't be bothered anymore and gave up completely.

Not the most comfortable of journeys then, but the rescue bus did meet us about 40 minutes further along. Even thought the air conditioning in that one wasn't much better, but it was still better. We were all grateful for that little bit of coolness.

I have to say, we were shattered by the end of the day and in bed early. Tomorrow we'll arrive at Costa Maya, Mexico. There are loads more Mayan ruins to see here, but we've been told by Shorex that she won't need us tomorrow, so we are going to have another go at finding a beach and going for a swim. Maybe we'll get there this time.

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