Mayan Treasure Hunt in the 80’s
Today’s guest post by Kai Martin tells a great story of it was like to go look for Mayan treasure at the ruins near the southern tip of the island close to 31 years before it was designated as a world Heritage site. There were no plank walkways to help navigate the 1/4 mile swampy path into dryer grounds of Marco Gonzalez.
I have added a bit on modern day Marco below Kai’s write up. If you like ruins but do not want a long day trip to mainland, this small site in South Ambergris Caye is worth seeing.
We lived in San Pedro during the time of “bigger circus than this done come to town and gone broke”. The 80’s. It seemed everybody you met under the big tree at Paradise was looking at Ambergris Caye with dollar signs in their eyes. A place to get rich quick, whether from drugs, land speculation, or business opportunities.
My neighbor Claudio Trejo told my husband Franc and I about the “Mayan ruin” at the south end of the island. We could dig for Jade and Mayan artifacts. A true treasure hunt! So one morning we loaded up in the little Boston Whaler and zipped down there. To be honest, I was not expecting much.
We pulled up to a small rickety dock and walked down a small skinny pier built through the middle of a mangrove swamp until it ended. Then we had no choice but to walk through the swamp. I was in a long sleeved shirt, shorts and Dockers. The further we got into the swamp, the tougher it got to walk through the muck. Every few steps you would sink ankle deep into this quick sand like environment.
My 100 lbs. started sinking in further and further, to the ankle, to the knee and finally I took a step and my right leg sank all the way to the top of my thigh. I was stuck. Franc and Claudio pulled me out as a loud sucking sound escaped when I was freed. Unfortunately my shoe was still down there somewhere! And my leg was scratched red from scraping against a Mangrove root. I was convinced I would die of some tropical infection before I could even reach the boat, but they convinced me to move on.
We finally made it to more solid jungle like ground. This is when the mosquitoes hit. At one point Franc counted over 30 on the back of my shirt as he followed behind. It was NOT a note of encouragement! It was at about this point that I said I wanted to turn around and go back. Claudio said no, we were half way there. I said “no, we are half way there when we turn around to go back!”. I used that saying many times since then in my life! Again the men prevailed.
We finally made it to a small clearing where you could see some rocks and disturbances in the earth. It was obvious that people had been searching for something. I made two feeble digs at the barren ground and I was ready to go.
I RAN all the way back to that beautiful crystal clear water and dove in. It felt wonderful and cleansing. That water was MY treasure. It was several years later when I picked up a National Geographic magazine that had a whole article about that same site! I was there before its time.
I understand it is now, since 2011, the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site. I’m glad it is protected. I’m happy that others, more prepared than we were, have secured this piece of history for Belize. I’m fine that I failed at being Indiana Jones!!!
If you liked this post and did not see Kai Martin’s last guest post, click to read – Back in the day (1986) Atlantis was on Ambergris Caye. It has some great pics of town and resorts from way back.
I have added a few pictures below of modern day Marco Gonzalez site from a tour I did with friends back in 2015. Neither of them had been there before and I knew they would enjoy an interesting Maya history lesson from the official tour with Jan Brown.
Although the site is not big like those on the mainland it is every bit as wondrous in a different way, especially with Jan telling the story. The 2,000 year old ruin sits on approximately 8 elevated acres and offers lots of ground level sight seeing. During a guided tour, you will learn the story behind the Maya culture being on Ambergris Caye,in Belize, Central America and Yucatan. Enjoy the unique experience of walking on ancient ground covered with pottery shards, seeing Maya remains and being able to respectfully hold Mayan artifacts.
Plan Your Ruins Tour Accordingly
Note: Mosquitoes can definitely be a factor on this adventure. Be sure to ask how buggy it has been before you take the tour. My last time there was very buggy, we were aware of that going in and chose to do it anyways – no regrets. They gave us mosquito net hats palmetto swatters and Jan was lighting torches along the way to smoke them out.
I have also gone there in very wet conditions with 6 friends. Thankfully Jan was willing to take us in spite of oncoming weather warning thanks to Belize Hydromet site – we loved every rainy and well waterproofed minute. Click through for of great artifact pictures and Maya history.
Like the Marco Gonzalez Maya Site Facebook Page for updates and special events.
If you are looking for fun things to do on Ambergris Caye and want a few more opinions, click through to read other adventurers reviews on our small but super cool island ruins – Marco Gonzalez Maya Site.