Just photos for now. There are too many historical sites to visit!
Athens: The Domain of Athena
Updating photos first!
I will post an update soon on my lengthy trip to Greece and then my time in Athens. Until then, here are photos from my day on an island next to Santorini. It felt like a ghost town.
Manuel Antonio National Park is Costa Rica’s smallest park. It covers only 1,983 hectares. Don’t let the size fool you though. It is home to 109 species of mammals and 184 species of birds. It is feasible to see the whole park in only a day, but most people dedicate two days to exploring the trails and enjoying the beaches. To be honest I wasn’t enthralled with the park. Supposedly, Forbes ranked it in the world’s top 12 national parks. I don’t know the validity of this claim, but would strongly disagree with it. Argentina, Canada, and the US alone would put this park way out of the running. I saw a lot of monkeys, but the main attraction for me were the sloths. I only saw two sloths and they were very high up in the trees, but they were there!
So let’s talk more about los peresozos or the sloths. Interestingly enough the word for sloth and lazy in spanish are one in the same. There are two species slowly lurking in the trees- the Brown-Throated Three-Toed Sloth and the Hoffmann’s Two-Toed Sloth.
Below I have typed out what the signs in the national park state (grammatical errors included) about each species.
The Choloepus Hoffmanni or the Two-Toed Sloth: “This mammal feeds on the leaves of the trees, which have little energetic value and make their metabolism slow, as well as the sloths movements. They are brown in color, though in some exceptions a dark green can be spotted among its fur, which is cause by algae. Its mouth is longer than its cousin’s, and their hind legs are naked. The two toed sloth has nocturne habits, though it can sometimes be seen active during the day.”
Exciting fact alert!
The Bradipus Variegatus or the Three-Toed Sloth: “Their three pointy claws help them hang on the trees and climb in search for leaves, which represent most of their diet. The guarumo is one of their favorite foods. The process of digesting is slow, as they have a big stomach. They can sleep more than half the day, moving very little, and only when in search for food, or when climbing down to the ground to defecate, which they do every eight days right in the roots of the same tree, as if they were naturally fertilizing it.”
Did you get as excited as I did? They poop once every eight days and right at the base of their own tree. I read that fact at the beginning of my two days in the park. I kept hoping I would spot a sloth on its slow and lazy way down a tree to defecate. Unfortunately, I had no such luck. The two sloths I spotted were of this variety obviously, since the Two-Toed Sloth is nocturnal.
The species that provided me the most entertainment was the White-Headed Capuchin Monkey. There was a troop of them grooming, fighting, and enthusiastically sharing a juice box. A mother walked right past me with her baby nestled up against her neck. The park’s sign stated, “It belongs to one of the smartest groups of monkeys and it feeds on an assorted diet. They search among the foliage of the trees to find insects and other small animals. They also feed on a variety of fruit, and are important seed dispersers. Their tail is not prehensile, but it does however help them keep balance.” Unlike the other species in the park, the White-Faced Capuchin doesn’t use its tail as a fifth hand, but just for balance. You aren’t allowed to bring any prepackaged food into the park. The monkeys love to get ahold of the plastic wrappings and eat them. This is something that really bothers me about people in national parks and zoos. Let the animals eat the food they naturally find in the wild or that is fed to them by professionals! So please respect this policy and leave the potato chips at the hotel.
In the park you can find three of Costa Rica’s four monkey species. One you most definitely can hear! The Howler Monkey has a very deep guttural howl that can be heard throughout the day. According to the park’s sign, “This is one of the largest species of monkey in the country. Its tail serves as a fifth hand which it can use it skillfully to pick branches. They feed mostly on leaves and foliage, which makes their metabolism very slow. They howl as an alert mechanism or to protect their territory, and it is one of the most powerful sounds amongst animals.”
The last species of monkey found in the park is the Squirrel Monkey. The park’s sign explained that, “This species of monkeys is the smallest in Costa Rica. In the past they found themselves restricted to small patches of forest in the central pacific region of the country and it was necessary to protect these areas. They are omnivorous, and also hunt small bats to feed. Inside the Manuel Antonio National Park, 33 species of plants have been identified which serve as food for the squirrel monkey. The subspecies, Saimiri Oerstedii Citrinellus, can only be found in our country, and it barely surpassed the thousand individuals, located inside this park and their surroundings.” If you do visit the park, don’t expect to see nearly as many of these as the White-Faced Capuchin.
While swimming in the ocean, I witnessed the slightly funny phenomenon of people in a “wave” running out of the water to defend their belongs. A gaze of raccoons was slowly working its way down the beach scavenging through haphazardly left behind backpacks. As soon as people realized what was happening, they would madly race to grab their lunches back. Once an area was “cleared” of any food to be stolen, the raccoons moved on to the next section of beach and another group of people would rush out of the water.
I also spotted the black spiny-tailed iguana, the white-nosed coati, and a common basilisk (not nearly as impressive as the one in Harry Potter).
My overall assessment of the area is if you are planning a short vacation, I would skip Manuel Antonio and focus either on Tortuguero during turtle mating season, or really explore the undeveloped terrain of the Osa Peninsula. If you do make it to Manuel Antonio, spend a full day at the park and drop some money on river rafting. The river rafting is expensive, but I talked to several people who loved it. Also, be prepared with an excessive amount of bug spray. I normally am the person in a group who doesn’t get one single bite. That has not been the case here. I have even had strangers make comments about how many bites I have on my legs.
*Money Tip: A taxi from Quepos to the national park should not cost more than 3,500 colones total. Whatever you do, make sure you agree on the price before the trip begins! I don’t know why you wouldn’t take the bus though. It costs 305 colones and it comes every half hour.
I will most definitely be posting reviews of places I stay in Greece, but will probably wait until after to share the historical aspects of what I see. I can’t wait for you to be reading about my time in Athens! The food… the museums… the HISTORY! I really hope that I find several occasions to wildly throw my hands in the air and scream, “Opa!” Wouldn’t you?
Go back and read the Tikal and Monteverde posts! The only thing I have done in Samara is play beach volleyball everyday with a local team. Literally, that is it.
I have met many interesting, bizarre, and fascinating people in my travels. I spent almost an entire week with a director of the NSA in Laos, I met a veteran of the Vietnam war on the Myanmar border who didn’t realize the war was over, and even spent a summer researching in Africa with a professional Dutch soccer player. All of these people have left permanent and distinct clipits of moments in my mind, yet the one with the most bizarre tale to tell may very well be my French airbnb host, Michel. He lives out in the middle of nowhere in the Nicoya Peninsula. I selected his house because it was relatively close to Hojancha and the Blue Zone I was in search of. The reviews people had written for him stated that his house was a magical place to relax and that 4 wheel drive may be a good idea. To those people I would like to ask, “Were you smoking something at the time of your arrival?” 4WD is not a good idea it is necessary. He lives up a 1 km hill with massive boulders making the trip up to his place an adventure meant for a 4WD with high clearance which my small Bego did not have. I got to the house feeling a bit shaken and shocked by the ordeal of getting there. My accommodation was basically a renovated barn. Everytime I touched the running water in either the sink or shower I was zapped with electricity, so showering was out of the question. Unfortunately, I did not discover this fact until after I had used soap. Yes, as you may assume I remained sticky for the following day. The welcome cupcake on my bed had been half eaten by an animal and the windows had no screens or panes. It was right around the time I discovered that I had no screens that he said, “In that tree live poisonous snakes, in that tree poisonous spiders, in the forest there is at least one panther, but the biggest concern for you are the scorpions. Make sure you don’t leave any clothes on the floor. They like to nestle in shoes. All the other critters will probably stay in their own place.” My response in my head was, “Great! How much am I paying for this again?” Thank goodness I only booked one night. So, I took advantage of his balcony and watched the massive poisonous frogs catching bugs and a colony of ants diligently carrying leaves down their massive highway system across his lawn.
He came to sit with me and proceeded to tell me his life story. I respect that it is his personal tale to tell, so I will only give a brief summary. He began by explaining that his father was a very respected scientist in France. He spent 30 years researching a common insect in France. He used his research to assess pollution in France’s rivers. He assisted homicide detectives in deciphering the time of death of victims based on the stage of development of the bugs. He was a true environmentalist and he would often take Michel on adventures in the wild. It was obvious he had a deep respect for his father. Then his story took an odd turn. He explained that he had returned to France to take care of his father for several years while he struggled with Dementia. During that time he discovered the papers that documented his “adoption”. He hadn’t been adopted, but bought! In the 60’s in France you could only adopt children from Africa or Asia. So the massive number of French orphans were hidden away in prison like orphanages. His biological mother hadn’t been able to handle raising five children by herself while her husband was away driving trucks. One day Michel, the youngest, began to cry uncontrollably. She put her cigarette on his face to teach him to be quiet. A neighbor witnessed this so all five children were sent to the orphanage. Michel remembers a very kind care-taker from the age of 1-3 and then the horror of orphanage life. At the age of five he was purchased by his parents to be. The rest of his siblings were left in the orphanage until the age of 18. Thus, they are quite bitter.
His parents wanted him to have a sibling, so they adopted a little girl. She had some mental disabilities and that is when his new home became a dark place. His parents were very strict and had high expectations of their children. Michel was often beaten and left to take care of the difficult younger sister. He shared so much more of his sad story. It is obvious he finds solace in nature and that is why he chose to move all the way out on his quiet hill with nothing but the animals as his companions. Before I headed to sleep, he offered to give me a tour of the property in the morning. I agreed to it, having no idea the story that went along with the land I was standing on!
I was awoken by an animal attempting to open my shudder and laid there staring at the ceiling until the monkeys decided to join the symphony of animal sounds at 5 am. As offered, Michel was there ready to lead me around the place. He started off by explaining the previous owners. The house had been well constructed by a genius German who eventually lost his genius (a lot of the house’s quirks were constructed by him- like a room with no roof intended for nude sunbathing). He went crazy and spent the rest of his life living primitively in the forest. The next owner, an American, had to put some serious effort into hunting down the German in order to buy the property. The American was a well-respected software engineer. He had met his wife, an Italian call girl, at a business party in the US. He wanted to take her away from her line of work, so he decided to work remotely from Costa Rica. He expanded the house. Apparently, he was a very good carpenter on top of his many other attributes. Michel assumes he was a Mason because the house’s many carvings incorporate Mason symbology.
The story didn’t get really weird until he led me down a newly cleared path. He explained that the whole property had been overrun by trees and bushes and that everything clear now he had cleared in the past 10 months. While cleaning up the yard, he had discovered what appeared to have been a path in the past. Now I am getting ahead of myself, but the American owner died leaving the property to his Italian wife. She had told Michel that he would probably find some structures out in the woods. She knew that her husband had secretly been building something, but she didn’t know what. So, Michel kept cutting trees and clearing bushes, until one day he found something big! He found a second house, yet this house appeared to have been built with a very specific unknown purpose. The open top floor has many power outlets which leads one to assume it may have been used for some sort of work meetings. The bottom floor had a bathroom, small kitchenette, and a storage closet. Michel wonders if this was a meeting place for Masons. Why keep it a secret from his wife? How was that even possible? The amount of materials he would have had to truck up that hill in order to build it would have been tremendous. Just for the record, if my husband is hauling cement, wood, and other building materials up a hill I am so going to investigate. There are not going to be any mysterious and secretive meetings without me knowing about it! Michel suspects that perhaps the Italian woman didn’t care because he assumes she was only with the American for his money. Perhaps, but wouldn’t she be curious anyway?
Wait! The story gets weirder. The American got brain cancer. To help the pain the locals suggested he take cocaine. They began delivering it on a regular basis. Then one entrepreneur pediphile realized that he could pursue his own pediphile activity on this hidden property up in the hills and make money while at it. Since the American was drugged up on cocaine and no longer his good samaritan self, the locals began charging him money to bring young children to the property. The drug dealers and the pedophiles all squatted on the farm and made a big mess of the place. Michel said that the situation in Costa Rica is quite sad for children now and that a large percentage of children are exposed to some degree of sexual abuse. I do not know the validity of this claim, but it is what he said. The American died and the property was abandoned. His wife wanted to find someone to lease the property to keep the squatters away. That brings us to Michel.
We walked for over two hours in the woods. He showed me many plants and the source of the spring that supplies the farm. I think the Italian woman found the right person to love the property and to be its guardian. I hope that the property continues to be a place for Michel to have a peaceful existence and that the story of the land from here on out is a tale of serenity.
Well I have had some interesting experiences in Costa Rica. A few years ago my brother recommended the book, Blue Zones, so I read it. I really liked it and became sort of obsessed with the idea of pursuing nutritional anthropology. In the middle of the Nicoya Peninsula in Costa Rica there is a very prominent Blue Zone. The area has a very large group of centenarians. When I first planned to come to Costa Rica, I made a point of dedicating a couple days to hunting down old people to glean some of their wisdom on how to live a long and healthy life. These couple days basically made the decision that I needed to rent a car because the central peninsula is hard to get to and actually used to be even harder until a large bridge was built. In the book the author discusses how this bridge alone changed the lifestyle for the younger generation and thus has dropped the life expectancy. It allowed fast food and more coke cola to enter the area. As I drove over the bridge I thought to myself, I bet China or some Asian country built this bridge. Yep! Taiwan did! Ha.
I reached the town of Hojancha and parked the car. I approached a stranger and inquired where any centenarians lived. The guy immediately said,"The Castillo family has an old lady. They live over the bridge about 1 km past the soccer field." I drove and didn't find it, so I stopped to ask a farmer and he gave me more specific directions. The problem was that my definition of bridge and theirs is very different. The third person I asked said, "Yea, my neighbor." There were three girls all between 8 and 10 playing in the yard with two elders looking on. I approached and asked if I could ask them some questions. They were very receptive and gave me a chair. I explained that I had read the book and wanted to write an article about living a long life. The man, Jose Calisto Castillo Carrillo, is 88 and his daughter is in her early 60's. His mother is the most famous centenarian in the town at the whopping age of 109. I asked them about her lifestyle. They said she used to eat dinner at 5 pm and get up around 2 am to work in the fields. In their opinion, the key to her diet was that there were no preservatives and all meat was organic and grass fed. They also said that the most important factors behind her longevity are the fact that she is always surrounded by a lot of family and that her faith is so strong. Jose explained that he lived in a nice house because his son is a priest and the church bought it for him. He lives there while his son is evangelizing throughout Central America and Africa. I hesitantly asked if I could meet his mother. He immediately jumped up and put on a fancy shirt and leather shoes. He didn't call to give her warning of course, but we were on our way to meet not only a centenarian, but THE MOST FAMOUS ONE! I had done it and only in a matter of an hour of hunting. As we drove Jose proudly sat in the front seat smiling at all the locals who were very confused why Jose was in a car with a gringa.
We reached the house and there were four relatives sitting outside chatting away the afternoon. The hostess of honor remained inside putting on her best clothes and a very special rosary sent directly to her from the pope. Her name is Francisca Carrillo and she was born November 3rd, 1906. Six months ago she lost her sight and her hearing is very bad. So her granddaughter had to yell in her ear who I was. It became obvious any information I was going to get would come from either Miguel her 75 year old grandson, Jose her 88 year old son, or her 65 year old granddaughter. She asked to feel my hair and then grabbed my head close to her bosom and proceeded to say a blessing. She then asked her granddaughter to get her special ear rings. The granddaughter asked me to sign her book. Page after page after page were filled with the names of all the people who had come to visit. There was a column to write your nationality and the purpose of the visit. Ten days previously two doctors from Portland, OR had visited. The day before a journalist from US News and one from France had visited. The walls were covered with pictures of news crews who had come to document the longevity secrets of this very impressive woman. It was a surreal experience. I had found her. I knew I would, I just didn't expect for it to be that easy. I had thought I would need to drive back the next day. It just goes to show that at least asking is always worth a try and the hospitality of strangers may surprise you.
Monteverde: Life in the Clouds
The drive from La Fortuna to Monteverde was eventful. The trip is roughly four hours give or take depending on how you drive. It is a scenic route around a large lake with some nice views of the volcano. I passed a lot of German establishments, a massive boa constrictor crossing the road, hundreds of wind turbines, and got to experience Route 145 and 606. These roads made me realize why the trip from La Fortuna to Monteverde is so long. As the crow flies, it isn’t far, but the condition of these roads is atrocious. No wonder their groceries are so expensive! To truck anything into the interior of the country takes forever. For about two hours I remained in 4WD and was driving about 15-20 kph. It felt like hiking. You set a goal of making it over the next hill, but that hill just doesn’t come for a long time. The drive made me feel thankful. My country has its own problems, but we have well built infrastructure, a love of efficiency, and in general things just work the way they should. I guess that is why sometimes it feels boring to me. When I travel the element of the unknown and things not working, make the who experience that much more of an adventure.
Monteverde is acclaimed for its cloud forest. The area sits at roughly 4,600 feet. Its misty weather and higher elevation means that the average temperature is significantly lower than the plains. Its average temperature is around 64 degree F. This was a pleasant discovery after surviving La Fortuna with no A/C. Most people come to monteverde for the hanging bridges high up in the forest’s canopy, ziplining, hiking, and to visit the plethora of reptile, butterfly, and hummingbird sanctuaries. I spent one day hiking in the reserve, ergo I spent a day walking in a cloud. Don’t expect great sweeping views of the surrounding area. It gets its name- CLOUD forest- for a reason. I spent the next day ziplining at the famous Selvatura Park. The longest zipline was 1,000 meters! It really was awesome. I wish you could gain a bit more speed, but I loved every minute of it. I also checked out the hanging bridges and the hummingbirds. I saw one hummingbird that was a brilliant purple. The last day in town I drove to check out a few art galleries. The natural surroundings have enticed many artists to make their home among the trees. The first gallery I visited was owned by Roberto Wesson. When I can afford to drop 4,000 USD on a painting, I will go back! The second belonged to a woman named Sarah and it was a trek to get to. She moved to Monteverde from the US in 1971 and bought a wooden plank house out in the forest. She actually bought it so long ago that it now resides IN the reserve. In the afternoon I went to a frog house and took an evening tour of the frog enclosures. It was amazing to see the diversity of frogs Costa Rica has. There were many poisonous and toxic frogs. One huge species sweats out its poison. If you touch it, the poison will seep through your skin. One species is clear and you can see its organs. The most beautiful frog is by far the Rainbow Frog.
Overall, it was a nice relaxed place. I definitely think you can do it in 2 days instead of 3.
Costa Rica: Arenal Volcano
There was some serious stress catching my connecting flight in Miami. Even though I was in transit, I had to go through immigration. I spoke with an airport employee and was able to skip most of the security line. I ran to the gate and they were already boarding group three. A lot of people didn’t make the flight because they had to go through immigration as a non-US citizen. So, I was lucky. Once in San Jose I picked up the rental car I had booked online. Online it was quoted at 503 USD for 26 days. That is a pretty good price. It wasn’t until I was standing at the desk in the Alamo office that I found out the final bill. The jovial Oscar informed me that the total including the mandatory insurance would be 1,770-1,900 USD depending on which package I selected. Um, no! I had previously read about the absurd insurance situation in CR, but I had been expecting maybe an extra 300 dollars. After joking and negotiating with Oscar, he dropped the 13% airport pick-up fee and the drop-off at a different location fee. I also decided to keep the car for 10 days instead of 26. Moral of the story, beware of the insurance fees!!!
The drive to La Fortuna was relatively uneventful other than discovering that Costa Rican two lane roads all cross bodies of water over one lane bridges which can obviously lead to some issues. I stopped for a 5 dollar meal at a furniture outlet and then made it to my destination after roughly 3 hours of driving. Once in La Fortuna I was able to catch some great pictures of Arenal and made it to my airbnb host.
My first full day in the area was spent at La Fortuna Falls. I met a nice Spanish couple and swam around the falls. The area was serene and a nice place to spend a morning. The rest of the day was spent just taking advantage of having a vehicle. I drove around the lake for about an hour and discovered an odd Swiss establishment and saw an RV that looked like an armored delivery car for a bank. Note to self- next time get an armored car!
The next day I went to the Hotel del Lagos and paid 15 USD to enjoy the facilities for the day. I checked out the croc enclosure, butterfly house, frog house, and ant tree. I dove up the hotel’s massive hill to get a closer view of the volcano and hurried back to swim in the many natural hot spring pools. The establishment has both hot and cold pools of varying temps and several have slides. I met a lovely Canadian woman named Tami and spent some time chatting with her which inevitably led to me trying to convince her to move to Taiwan. The Taiwanese government really should hire me. Back at my airbnb place I cooked curry with hot hot hot chili peppers. When the produce guy tells you that this chili pepper is the hottest, you should probably believe him. The oil got on my hands and they swelled up and became very red. They burned for hours and I ended up soaking them in a bowl of yogurt. That didn’t work, so I then soaked them in milk. Thank goodness I didn’t get oil in my eyes.
The last day in La Fortuna I hiked Cerro Chato. It is a small mountain next to Arenal with a placid lake at its summit. It is supposedly the toughest hike in the area and on average takes people four hours round trip. I made it to the top in less than an hour and twenty minutes, so it is possible to do it in less than four hours. It was a steep climb criss-crossing up a muddy slope of large and uneven tree roots. At the top I initially felt disappointed at finding a view that provided only a narrow glimpse of a lake with Arenal not visible. Luckily, I continued around to find an absurdly steep drop down to the lake. I wouldn’t have dropped myself down if I hadn’t seen other people doing it. I met a nice couple from Chicago. She works for a company called Rent to Own. The idea is that they rent fridges to businesses or farm equipment to farmers at a monthly rate they can afford and eventually they will own the equipment. The idea came from micro loan companies like Kiva. She just spent 4 months in Zambia and 7 in South Africa. I told them I had done Chimp research in Zambia and the husband got excited because he did similar research but with dolphins. She knew of the reserve I had spent time at and had hoped to visit, but was unable to fit it into her schedule. It was so nice chatting with them that I lost track of time and the urgent need to get down the mountain before dusk. I let the fish eat some dead skin off my feet and a coati watch me pee and headed back up the muddy embankment. On the dash down the mountain (I literally ran down ⅔ of the way with the hope of beating the approaching storm and in the process broke my big toe’s nail off), I saw amazingly camouflaged frogs and several bugs that looked exactly like tree leaves. The huge thunderstorm I had been watching from a distance rolled in and made the last ⅓ of the way back down slow and dangerous. Luckily, I made it back to the car wet, but in one piece.
Tikal was a powerful Mayan conquest kingdom in its heyday. The surrounding city-states were either forced to pay tribute to Tikal through military action or voluntarily accepted Tikal’s protection and became its vassal state. Some structures date back to the 4th century BC, but it was at its height between 200 and 900 AD. There is evidence that supports that they were in contact with their northern neighbors the Aztecs and that in the 4th century AD Teotihuacan (the Aztec’s capital in central Mexico) conquered Tikal. The site was abandoned in the 10th century AD.
My guide, Reyes, shared a lot of interesting information about the Mayans. They had an interesting number system that was a base 20 system that incorporated the concept of zero. They had a symbol for zero, one, and five. Check it out: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maya_numerals. Reyes pointed out that there was no fresh water near the city of Tikal. Its builders built the city to be a natural reservoir. In addition, the Mayans had a very sophisticated understanding of the stars. The many temples in the city align perfectly with the rising sun on specific days of the year. Reyes was great at pointing out the animal life. We saw three species of toucans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, coati, a impressive multi-colored turkey, and several other species of birds. I think Reyes was shocked by my ability to put up with the heat in the name of seeing history. He said most tourists stay a maximum of three hours and we were there for almost five.
Fun side fact: From the pictures above do you recognize a scene from a Star Wars movie?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures to share of my adventure the following day. I went to the famous ATM cave. The tour guide was a jerk- don’t go with Ian Burns, but the cave itself was really impressive. The Mayans used it as a place to leave offerings to many gods, but predominantly the god of rain. The other gods were recognized with the hope that the offerings to the rain god would not cause jealousy or anger. Their economy was completely based on their corn crops and in the later years of the empire drought devistated their society. The use of the cave for offerings increased greatly as the droughts got worse.
Most offerings were either food based or the blood of a noble. Noble females pierced their tongues and noble males pierced their genitalia. The blood was then caught in a bowl and left for the gods. I asked if one noble would have to piece themselves multiple times over their lifetime and the guide said there is no way of knowing. For the males’ sake, I sure hope not. They probably had the earliest Prince Alberts in history! That is something to put in the books. There were also some human sacrifices though and their bones are still in the same positions as they were found! 1 km into the cave (3km from the entrance to the end), there are three sets of fully entact remains. One was a young boy who appeared to have his hands tied behind his back. The guide pointed out that the skulls are all dramtically cone shaped. This is because the Mayans held corn in such high regard and found it athestically pleasing to have a head shaped like it that they would tie thick pieces of wood around the sides ot their children’s skulls to reshape them. No thanks! The Mayans would kill their human sacrifices by cutting out the heart, slitting the throat, or by cutting off the limbs and allowing the person to bleed out. This sounds horrible, but it is important to keep in mind that the Mayans were not as aggressively or frequently sacrificing humans like the Aztecs did.
The Belizean government decided not to excavate the cave, but to leave it as it was found so that people can see the history as it was left. The tour begins with a 45 minute walk through the jungle. You have to swim into the cave and there is a lot of swimming throughout the three hour tour. You can’t bring anything in with you because a year ago a tourist dropped his camera on a skull and crushed it. That is ok because you really wouldn’t want to be holding anything while you are navigating through the water, stalactites, and slick embankments. I highly suggest dropping the money and giving into the monopoly the ATM guides have. It is a fun adventure to go spelunking and on top of that you get to see a piece of history (well at least many pieces of pottery and skulls).
Hi, I'm Kristin!
I am an avid traveler who also loves photography, history, and food. Life is short and I am trying to gather as many special memories as I can.
Thailand to Laos
Japan to Thailand
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Czech Republic (2007)
The Netherlands (2007)
Hong Kong (2013 & 2014)
South Korea (2015)
New Zealand (2015)
French Polynesia (2015)
Costa Rica (2016)
United Arab Emirates (2016)