I didn’t expect much from the Belize mainland but we liked it so much we decided to spend an extra day. First I wandered around a bit near the ferry dock in Belize City and took some pics of the cool old colonial mansions. Then I went to the Belize Museum – which is small but had a really well-done heart-wrenching exhibit on the slave trade.
This exhibit prompted me to read more about the slave trade in the Caribbean. Which led me eventually to read up more on Columbus and the history of the region. The first quote below is from Columbus’ first voyage. Second quote is from the second voyage.
Reading further – seems one way the Spanish justified these brutal acts is they considered any attack by Indians along the Caribbean islands, South American, Central American, and Gulf Coasts as coming from all Indians. So if some other explorer got shot up with poison darts in the Yucatan, than meant all natives were hostile and they could enslave whoever they want. Apparently the final call to enslave the natives came down from Queen Isabel, who initially resisted – but then acquiesced when there were some attacks and Spaniards killed in the New World.
The point I take away is there’s always some flimsy justification to retaliate against the “other” group. It’s rarely explicitly sold as “hey let’s be evil”. Also f*** Columbus. It’s long past time to end that sham holiday.
We decided to base ourselves in San Ignacio – in the west of the country and near the Guatemala border. This meant a long haul to the Lamanai ruins in the north of the country. But we figured it was better than moving around – and Orange Walk in the north seemed kind of gritty. And boy were we glad we made that decision when we saw our AirBnb – aka The Best AirBnb Ever. The pics below are only part of the story. A lovely local caretaker named Ernesto greeted us, and for the rest of the stay bent over backwards to help us and arrange tours. We pretty much decided on the spot to stay an extra night and steal a night from Flores in Guatemala.
The next day we checked out the local ruins – Xunantunich – which were smallish but still pretty good sized. And the really cool part was we felt like we had the place almost all to ourselves. I really enjoy ruins when it gets quiet. I like to just find a shady spot and soak it all in.
The small river ferry to get to Xunantunich ruins – Shauna makes a cameo.
This gives you an idea of some of the “roads” that google maps is more than happy to send me down.
That night we at dinner in San Ignacio town at one my favorite places to eat on the whole trip so far Ko-Ox Han nah. They had some kind of Korean – Mexican – Belizean fusion thing going on. But not in the fancy LA sense – in the real “Hey we’re Korean in Belize but Mexican is the dominant cuisine in the region so how do we make this work?” sense. Amazing. The pork tacos were one of the best meals I’ve had on the whole trip. We at there again the next night.
Fun bridge in San Ignacio
The next day we took a long ride to the Lamanai ruins tour – which includes a river ride to and from the ruins. The river ride was wonderful, with a naturalist guide who showed us all kinds of plants, reptiles and birds along the way.
(I have some pics from my real camera I need to add – but unfortunately I left my memory card on the Honduras mainland and I’m on Utila Island right now. So check back in a week or so for more Lamanai and river wildlife pics.)
The Lamanai ruins themselves were cool but nothing stood out too much from the other Mayan ruins I’ve seen. The river tour was definitely the highlight.
The boat was a blast
On the way back we had our driver stop at a place where we saw some amazing wood carvings the day before.
And the next day we had to sadly say goodbye to our best AirBnB ever and Ernesto – whom we somehow managed to not get one picture with. AAARGH!