Here is part 2 of a 3 part series by Zac who recently traveled to Cayo area with his friend Terri who is on an extended visit from Canada.. Rio Frio Cave and Pools on Rio to follow. You can see his first post Mountain Pine Ridge Forest Cayo Belize.
[Please note still titling pictures hitting publish now though, today is about to get busy quickly with a 1pm media session at Tropic Air. I may have to finish doing it later if the clock moves to fast]
We arose early for a buffet breakfast and an 8:30 start for the Caracol Day Trip into the Pine Ridge Forest.
This road was in better repair than the road to Barton Creek however, it was a long way, a bit too long, but once again the view was amazing and the 37 jungle vegetation that covered the hillsides along the way was spectacular to see. The trees themselves were covered with 38 orchids and vines, 39 Orchids in trees, 40 these two trees were so in love they had become one.
We drove through 41 Farming Valleys & 41a where tourism is fast replacing agriculture but the people live in comfort and beauty. We could smell the flowers when we past several road side 42 citrus orchards. The mist still covered the 43 Maya Mountains which made for some lovely 44 Color contrasts.
45 The Long and Winding Rd through mist covered mountains changed from concrete to asphalt (of a sort) to a lovely 46 red sandy clay & 47 detail. Soon 48 Baby Pines began to line the road with the 49 tall pines standing out above the ferns.
We had a mandatory stop at a Military Station to register and report where we were going as a safety precaution for our safe return. The base was an old abandoned town after the funding for conservation in the Pine Ridge Forest had to be cut where I saw these 50 Stately Pines & 51.
We crossed so many rivers 52 & 52a I lost track and stopped taking pics of them all.
As we returned to the road to Caracol, we were delighted to find ourselves on smooth paving lined by heavy jungle vegetation with 53 towering trees sticking out over the controlled road side area and a 54 huge Ceiba near the park entrance. This 55 Seriously big tree heralded the entrance to the Caracol Archeological Site and it was finally time to get off our butts for a while.
The foot path to the ruins was so cool with all the big Ceiba trees 56 shallow roots to trip you up as you pass the 56a twisted jungle vegetation on the way to the ruins. One of the 56b military guards showed us his harvest of seed pods that tasted like baby corn. Our first stop was into a central courtyard lined by 57 tiny homes of the once well to do. The 58 temples of Caracol were awesome, the first one we came to was the largest and a real climb up the central staircase 59 First level up to the top with an incredible view from the top.
59a second – 59c third level of stairs going up to the Sky Gods!
60 View from the top, 61 the Kinds Courtyard & the 62 Main Courtyard below the Kings. I tried to capture an idea of the amount of 63 mortar and rock used to build these temples and still understand that even 64 Mayan Royalty Sleeping Quarters were tiny rooms as everyone spent most of their time outside.
The Kings courtyard was reserved for Dignitaries only back in the day and the wealthy nobles spent their time in 65 the lower courtyard. This 66 pan of the main courtyard didn’t quite line up properly but I’m showing it anyway to catch the size of the place. You can see the distortion just left of center in the picture. I 66a humbly ask your forbearance as I learn how to use my relatively new camera.
67 Hieroglyphics, 68 Stellas and marking stones were all over the site as 69 Story Stones telling us about the people who built this place.
We walked on past 69a & b fallen trees that seemed to feed this flower patch and came to a 70 ball court with three center stones, a 71 Big Ceiba and on to another 72 large structure that predated the first one.
We climbed the 73 less uncovered staircase of a smaller structure to get up to see the 74 Howler Monkeys in the tree tops and on our way down we heard a warble/wuffle from a fairly large bird that was too high in the trees to photograph or describe. Our guide named it but I can’t remember. Its 75 nests hung from the trees & 75a.
It was incredible to see a 76 reservoir that was lined with rock that long ago and still held water. Mario, our guide said 76a this plant is what people from Guatemala sneak into the site to harvest which is why the military presence is necessary, in case they get nasty with Belize tourists.
Moving on, an even older site showed the only evidence of a 77 middle class aspect of Mayan society that appeared during the most prosperous time when Caracol held rule over the Mayan world. See the 78 Man in the Tomb? 78a & 78b and 78c looking out.
Many of the 79 altars and stellas & 79a etc have been removed and are being protected.
Before leaving the site we came to an area of even 80 less affluence and saw a 80a crypt where the less wealthy buried their dead.
81 Twin Ceiba trees on the way out of the site where we said 81a goodbye to Caracol and were soon back on a 82 small red clay road to the Rio Frio Cave.