Saturday, November 22, 1997

Steve, Kate, and I departed in the morning for our much anticipated day at Caracol. We weren't sure if we could do it at all- there had been plenty of rain and we kept hearing that it just wasn't possible to make the trip this time of year. Apparently there were 2 women who were also waiting to get a full group together, and the forest service gave us the go ahead.

Caracol is a 3 hour drive deep into the jungle on a horrible road. I wasn't quite sure we would get there until we were there. Not surprising, we were the ONLY ones there!

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A view over the rain forest from the top of
Caana (Sky Palace) at Caracol.
Caana remains the highest man-made building in Belize.

Caracol is now thought to be the largest of all the Mayan cities yet discovered. Estimates put the population during it's heyday at 200,000, and that number rises every year as more discoveries are made. An altar stone found at the site tells a story of military victory over Tikal, 60 miles away. The site has an estimated 35,000 structures, and at 55 square miles, is 85% larger than Tikal.

The partially restored structure in the center of the picture gives an idea of what archeologists have to deal with. With all the rain, trees and plants eat up these limestone structures rather quickly.

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Caana from the main plaza

Imagine a city that once was home to 200,000, and being only one of 6 people there on this day. It was truly a special feeling to stand at the top of the structures and see the thousands of yet to be uncovered buildings stretching to the horizon.

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Steve and Kate check out one of the structures on top of Caana. Notice the tree stump at the top.

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The entire group, obviously very impressed.

The caretaker/ guide, behind Kate's hat, was extremely knowledgeable and patient. He was able to tell us exactly how many bodies, how many pieces of pottery, and how many pieces of jade were found in every tomb. He knew the height and purpose of every major structure. We were charged nothing for the tour.

On our return trip to San Ignacio, we made stops at the Rio Frio Cave, and Rio On Pools. All in all, this turned out to be one of the best days of my trip.

Continue to day 7.

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