April 10, 2010

OAT Belize: Lamanai Ruins and Wildlife

Crossing over the border from Guatemala into Belize was challenging because of the strained relationship between the two countries.  Guatemala believes a significant portion of Belize belongs to Guatemala and boundaries continue to be disputed.  We had to take all of our luggage down from the top of the bus, walk it across the border ourselves, and then load it again.  The Belize population was clearly more "Carribean" than Spanish and if the Belize immigration officials spoke Spanish, they were not admitting it.  This "English-Only Spoken Here" made it easier to remember that Belize used to be British Honduras.
Belize City was rather seedy and the hotel food especially uninspired.  But the approach by boat on the New River to the Lamani ruins made visiting Belize worthwhile.  We saw 24 species of birds (list at end) including two "10,000 pointers" : Laughing Falcon and Barethroated Tiger Heron.  We were amused by the osprey that was clearly conflicted - it wanted to fly away to safety but it did not want to stop eating the fish it had caught - it finally decided to stay.  We admired a number of pretty birds and a pair of mottled owls. 
Enroute, we saw Mennonites fishing.  There are about 2500 who live here.  They wear white hats and the women wear long dresses.
Ivania caught a great shot of one of the raucous howler monkeys that greeted us as came ashore
Lamanai means "Submerged Crocodile" and has been continuously occupied for 3500 years (1500 BC until recently when Lamanai was declared a national park and the Mayan residents were relocated). 
We passed by the Jaguar temple and through a small ball court (where mercury and cinnabar were found)
The High Temple is 32 meters high and is the 2nd largest pre-classic structure in the Maya world.  We pulled ourselves up by clinging to the metal chain.  Our reward was a view of the river and jungle. 
After our picnic lunch, I set off on my own to explore.
I found the Spanish Church ruins
and the British Sugar Mill abandoned in 1864

 Lamanai Bird List * 10,000 point bird
1) Swallow, Mangrove
2) Osprey
3) Hawk, Black Collared
4) Falcon, Laughing *
5) Falcon, Bat
6) Trogan, Slaty Tailed
7) Owl, Mottled
8) Heron, Barethroated Tiger *
9) Heron, Little Blue
10) Heron, Boat Billed
11) Heron, Great Blue
12) Heron, Green
13) Jacana, Northern
14) Kingfisher, Green
15) Kingfisher, Ringed
16) Kite, Snail
17) Trogan, Blackheaded
18) Limpkin
19) Anhinga
20) Cormorant, Neotropic
21) Egret, Cattle
22) Aracari, Collared
23) Kingbird, Tropical
24) Blackbird, Redwinged

1 comment:

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