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06 June 2005

World Travels Begin...


W

ith the first step... Little did I know that when I retired from the State of Penna., and politics... another new world would open for me. After moving to Houston I took a small job at a resort on an island called Ambergris Caye (pronounced "key") off the coast of Belize in Central America. One of the very first trips down there, I decided to take in some site-seeing and Lynn, the Asst. Manager of the resort suggested seeing Altun Ha.

The trip getting there was just as exciting as the Mayan ruins. We had to go by boat from Ambergris Caye over to mainland Belize where we went up a very small, cozy and interesting river.

Birds, howler (yes, they howl constantly) monkeys, crocodiles and/or alligators, I don't know which but they were everywhere. And they also have these strange bugs that fly, attack and bite you... They are called no-seeums. I swear. You don't see them and even after they bite you, you still can't see them. For all I knew, they landed on my shoulder and were laughing at me.

After about an hour we pulled into a little town called Bomba (BOM-ba) and we were greeted by the inhabitants which were all selling unbelievably beautiful carvings in teak and mahogany. Mahogany trees grow all over the jungles. After about a half hour and long enough to buy carvings, it was into a little bus and off to the Mayan ruins. The only air conditioning were the open windows and anything you had inside your bag to fan yourself. Going through the jungle was really an education... especially seeing the natives there, living in a ramshackle 2 room hut and I do mean hut. Maybe a half dozen kids running around naked, and their mother sitting on a broken step as if she didn't have a thing in the world to concern herself with, and she didn't. After about a 45 minute drive in the jungle heat, we finally arrived at our destination... Altun Ha...

Altun Ha, archeologists believe Rockstone Pond, the literal translation for Altun Ha, was first settled somewhere around 250 BC, with construction of the buildings beginning in 100 AD and continuing throughout the Classic period that ended in the 10th century. Some 10,000 Maya lived in and around Altun Ha, which was a significant trading center as evidenced by the large amounts of jade excavated there in the early sixties and seventies.

Archeological investigations show that Altun Ha was occupied by 200 BC. The bulk of construction was from the Maya Classic era, c. 200 to 900 AD, when the site may have had a population of about 10,000 people. About 900 there was some looting of elite tombs of the site, which some think is suggestive of a revolt against the site's rulers. ...

The most famous structure of the site, known both as The Temple of the Masonry Altars and the Sun God Temple. Always the largest structure of the site, it was covered in entirety with an even larger building, and expanded a least 8 times since it's creation in 500 A.D. Seven layers of tombs were found under a central stairway block, now exposed. The most impressive was the earliest. Inside the intact crypt, lying on the right wrist of the skeleton entombed there, was a jade head representing the sun god Kinich Ahau. It is the largest jade object ever found in the Maya world. The body was originally covered by Jaguar and Cougar skins and the entire tomb was covered in red pigment.

I think the temple had 100 steps and I climbed everyone of them. Talk about exhausting but unbelievable view from the top. I looked out over my empire and at all the ants below. And yes, I did imagine myself as the Mayan king sacrificing naked virgins on the altar. The guide came over to me and asked how I liked the climb. I tried to speak inbetween HUGE breaths of air. He laughed and said we're taking the elevator down. I looked, "elevator? you're kidding?" He laughed and said yes, but took me to the back of the temple and there were stairs , wooden stairs that went all the way down, and don't ask how they were attached to the temple because I don't have the foggiest. I was going to live another day to do another tour somewhere in the world. LAUGH

Who have I bumped into while wandering around the island of Ambergris Caye? Ummm Julia Roberts, LeeAnn Rimes, Jerry Jeff Walker (he has a house on the island and this song Gringo in Belize is about Dennis Wolfe, a musician on the island who I constantly ran into... pretty cool guy actually.), Armand Assante and Isabella Rosellini (I just loved hearing her say, "Yes Denny, again?)... she would always say that just before I woke up.

Observations and Questions

Now be truthful and remember you cannot, I repeat cannot hurt my feelings... is this something you're interested in reading about? My travels throughout the world? I thought maybe once a week on a Monday I might do this? Yes? No? Too long a post? ...and be honest!

Next Monday's Travelogue

Visiting Naples and My Near Death Experience With An Italian Hooker

Today's Birthday

In 1935 the Dalai Lama in Tibet, spiritual leader of Tibet's Lamaistic Buddhists. Happy Birthday Dalai! (Just covering my bases)

Gentle Reminder of the Day

Have you looked over there yet? The gallery is growing. Where's yours?

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