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We decided to return to Belize this year with new goals in mind other than only fishing. This time, we also wanted to learn about the Mayan ruins that cover the landscape. As an archeologist in the late 1970s and early 80s, this particularly perked my interest. Flourishing as a civilization in Central America from about 2,000 BC to 1,000 AD, the Maya Indians built great temples, crafted technologically advanced artifacts, pottery and tools, created a working calendar, and carved their stories on rock slabs known as stelae.

On one of our day trips, we ventured by powerboat and van from Ambergris to Zunantanich (pronounced shoo-nan-TA-nich, meaning “stone woman”). It’s a magnificent Mayan town that existed from 700 to 1,000 AD, after which activity at the site mysteriously stopped and it became abandoned. After crossing the Mopan

River by hand-cranked ferry and snapping pictures of enormous iguanas sunning themselves on the banks, we climbed the hill to a high, limestone ridge majestically rising over the surrounding countryside. The most impressive structure is the central temple, known as El Castillo (“the castle”).

Belize in a Breeze Climbing El Castillo became an adventure in itself, with narrow, worn steps and no guardrails. But I recommend carefully making the trek as you’ll witness beautiful views from the pinnacle of the temple. Giovanni, our guide, asked us to be quiet; he clapped his hands together, and we could hear a resounding echo from the plaza floor some 125 feet below us. It really made us appreciate the architecture of this place. I could then more easily imagine the high priest perched here centuries ago in a jaguar-skin robe and feather plumage, giving orders and edicts to his loyal subjects grouped below.

San Pedro hosts an annual Lobsterfest in June with eight days of events including street parties, lobster recipe competitions, lobster beach barbecues, and even a King and Queen pageant. Visit www.sanpedrolobsterfest.com for more details.

You won’t want to miss Fido’s Restaurant and Bar (pronounced Fee-Doughs) in San Pedro, its bar well-known throughout the Caribbean for funky reggae music. Check out www.fidosbelize.com.

Other Notes of Interest

About Belize

  • Official name: Belize, formerly known as British Honduras; gained independence from the United Kingdom in 1981.
  • Area: 22,966 square kilometers (8,867 square miles), making it a country with one of the lowest population densities in the world.
  • Capital: Belmopan, with Belize City the largest
  • Location: In Central America, bordered by Mexico to the north and Guatemala west and south; it’s the only Central American country that doesn’t share a border with the Pacific Ocean.
  • Population: 291,000
  • Religion: About half Catholic, one-fourth Protestant and the rest mainly composed of Taoists and Buddhists.
  • Languages: English, with Creole and Spanish also spoken; Belize is the only English-speaking country in Central America.
  • Government: Commonwealth Realm with a parliamentary democracy
  • Currency: Belizean Dollar ($1.97BZD = $1US)

 

Visit the U.S. State Department’s web site for more details about Belize: www.state.gov/p/wha/ci/bh/.

David Barton resides in Wisconsin, where he enjoys frequent lake-fishing excursions with his wife and daughter. On a more international note, Barton’s career allows him to travel to all points of the globe, and his baggage includes gear suitable for just about any species he might encounter.



 

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