Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Explorer of the Seas - Day 3 - Belize


We all had an early breakfast at Windjammer - because we were boarding the tenders at 9 a.m. When we were planning the cruise, it was decided that at least one excursion we would do all together - all 7 of us. And so today we're all going on excursion BE60 - The Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich and Marimba Lunch! This is the description in the brochure:
Travel across the rolling hills of Western Belize to the Mopan River, located near the Guatemalan border. A hand-cranked ferry awaits to take you across the river, where you will board a shuttle to the Mayan Ruins of Xunantunich (Maiden of the Rock) Plaza several hundred feet above. Your guide will share his knowledge of the Mayan civilization and the Xunantunich site along the trip. From El Castillo, the tallest temple at the site, you will have a panoramic view of the surrounding countryside and portions of Guatemala. Afterwards, travel by bus to the San Ignacio Hotel for a Mayan-style buffet lunch accompanied by music from a local Marimba band.

The bus ride was long (two hours) but it gave us a chance to see the people of Belize, their houses, schools, and living conditions. The bus was comfortable and air conditioned! Our guide was Raoul and our driver was Pech. Raoul is actually of Mayan descent - he claimed that his late grandparents could only speak Mayan. Raoul was well educated and articulate and knowledgeable about the people of Belize and the Mayan ruins. The ferry was fun,and the shuttle vans took us up the hill to a parking lot - however, there was still a half mile of quite steep uphill to climb to get up to the ruins. Everybody climbed the ruins except me, and they all got to the very top of the temple, except for Chip, who said it was out of his comfort zone - very understandable.

The resort hotel at San Ignacio was like a diamond in a sea of poverty. It was gleaming, spacious and bright. The lunch was OK - the marimba music was great - and Dylan fell in love with raspberry lemonade!
On the way back, the bus stopped for shopping at a craft area - Dick bought me a wooden box, Laurie bought a wooden bowl, and Dylan got a top.
I fell asleep on the bus ride back to the dock and the tenders. My lasting impressions of Belize are the aching poverty, school kids in uniforms, grass fires, few Caucasians, a car accident on the side of the road, and a bus breakdown (not ours) - but our tender did wait for the broken down bus people to get there before returning to the ship. That trip was the last time we saw Dylan's Boonie hat - he thinks he left it on the bus.
We skipped the dining room tonight and all 7 had a family dinner at Windjammer. Afterwards we went to the stage show at the Palace - Dylan's comment was "When are they gonna have the juggler?"