the lesser known ruins of the Mayan

The rain poured in torrential buckets during Belize’s “dry season”. Another reminder that Mother Nature has a mind of her own, regardless of a traveler’s plans. If one is mindful of this fact, and can bend and sway with the changes, unexpected adventures lay in wait.

The rivers swelled and flooded all roads leading to the more infamous Mayan ruins I initially wanted to see. Day after day everyone was hopeful the waters would recede, but on my last full day in country, the realization hit that this wasn’t going to happen.

So I ended up going to Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit.

Lubaantun is in the lush jungle, just beyond the beautiful little village of Toledo. When first discovered, the archaeologist’s used dynamite to unearth the ruins, sadly blowing up each structure in the process.

A crystal skull ( just like in the Indiana Jones movie) was found and stolen by Americans back in the 1940’s. The Belize government is working with the US to try and retrieve this part of their cultural heritage, but without much success. They believe it is sitting in someone’s home in Indiana.

Among the ruins we find natural abundance in the jungle, from coco beans to gum trees, plants that help with aging to herbal remedies for diabetes.

As I was walking between the great fallen ruins, I hear a thunderously loud crack from the sky. No more than a few feet from me, a great tree branch falls from high above, smashing on the ruins below. A powerful reminder of my small place in this vast world.

Before we go to the next site, we stop in Toledo to eat at a local restaurant. The husband/wife that run the place are amazingly friendly, and the local cuisine was out of this world. Toasting over belikins, we all enjoy the hearty feast.

Nim Li Punit is collection of Stela ( erect stones with engravings on them) in a stunning remote lush green jungle setting. The second largest Stela found so far is here, rising to a little over nine meters.

Stories of ritual human sacrifice are told in the engravings, from disembowelment to the cutting off of men’s penises.

Brutal fascination in the realm of religion and fear of one’s diety.

Erect stones in a courtyard are believed to be the markings of the Mayan calendar.

I find the stone marking for January, and revel in what will be a New Year the following day. On the last day of 2013, I wish for peace, hope and good health for the upcoming three hundred and sixty five days.

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Wench, bring my ale, what say you?