Mayan sites, Belize
Make sure to manage your time. Head to the Mayan ruins early.
It was a long ride on a bumpy, undeveloped roads to the Altun Ha, the ancient Mayan site in Belize. If you are planning to go there, make sure to start early and have time to climb and explore on all the ruins.
The travel time to and and from the ruins is about four hours and that's half a day already...And, to explore the ruins, you might probably spend at least three hours.
Also, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and wear comfortable clothes. Wear something light.
The stepping stones in Altun Ha are huge and the stairs going up to the Sun God Temple are hard on the feet, so make sure to wear the most comfortable walking shoes you have. Definitely, no high heel shoes!
If you have children, bring snacks for them and bottled water. It is best to have a backpack to bring all your items. There is only one store that sells food in Altun Ha and they monopolize and control the pricing of the food. Drinks are expensive.
My main reason for going to Belize was to visit certain Mayan archeological sites. Mayan archeology is a main interest of mine- so besides Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras- Belize is the place to go. I will admit I was somewhat unprepared for what I found in Belize. It is the smallest country imaginable, most of it jungle, and has - at the time I was there- 2 1/2 paved main roads. When I looked in the Yellow Pages, by chance I happened to notice that there is only 1 (one) registered psychiatrist in the whole country. You figure it out- peaceful, tranquil, beautiful, unmolested, unthreatened Belize.
Belize has an interesting population- it is technically an English speaking country (given it's history) but contains a large indigenous Mayan population, immigrant Guatemalans, Indians and Chinese,(also surprisingly a large Amish/Mennonite community-well, maybe, not so surprisingly-you know, Heaven on Earth.). The Spanish (non-Mayan) population are called Ladinos. English and Spanish seem to be equally accepted in the land.
The smallest Capital City in the WORLD is probably Belmopan in Belize. The Capital was moved in land from Belize City some years ago due to the past damage inflicted by hurricanes. So, on a spur off the Western Road going toward San Ignacio you find Belmopan (smaller than your neighborhood I bet). If you go there stay at the Bull Frog Inn.It has a nice little dining room which is really a covered patio. I found the people there to be very nice and welcoming.
BTW- No one seems to know the origin of the name 'Belize.' Some maintain it is from the name of an infamous pirate named 'Wallace.' That's either a 'stretch' or quite a speech defect.
Fondest memory: Visiting Caracol deep in the Chiquibul Forrest. I had rented a 4-wheel (very expensive) Subaru Samarai and was driving the 3 1/2 hours to Caracol. I hit a pot hole in the rutted dirt road and found myself all of a sudden sitting in the passenger seat of the car. For a minute I was wondering 'Well, who's driving the car?' Hmm I thought I was.
Favorite thing: Belize is blessed with an outstanding archaeological heritage of Maya temples and palaces. It is believed that Belize was the heart of the Maya civilization at that time. Although large Maya cultural centers no longer exist, there is still a significant Maya population residing within many small villages. For those who are interested in archaeological sites, the Belize Department of Archaeology has committed to developing locations which are easily accessible for the casual tourist. This does not indicate the Department's total commitment to the vast archaeological potential of Belize, but it does allow tourists the opportunity to appreciate Maya history, as well as to appreciate the tremendous undertaking that is required to restore the Maya centers.
Go snorkeling, eat at Rasta Pasta , drink limeades, kayak through the mangroves, go see Lamanai and take jungle trips up the rivers...
Fondest memory: Riding back from Lamanai late one night, watching the comet...
Check out as many ruins as you can.....Caracol ( a bit of a rough 4X4 drive but darn well worth it), lamanai, cahel pech and others. Rare to find a country with the kind of excellent beaches and diving and the diverse history of the Mayans so easily accessible
Fondest memory: Beliken, Beliken, Beliken. Most excellent (also only) Belizean beer