Friday, May 30, 2008

Now that we are home...

We are home, safe and sound. The rain has begun. We have that Tropical Depression go by. It rained and rained last night. The wind blew for a while in the early evening! Walking to the Lodge from the Spa took a little work. The waves were coming up over our dock! It was kinda cool.

The river bed you saw at Caves Branch... its full! All the rivers are full.

We have been having a lot of power outages as well. The wires and transformers are so hot from the hot dry season, that when the wain hits then they go "pop". I'd saw at least 20 outages yesterday... some short just to make your computer turn off, and some as long as 20 minutes. Today we had one fast one.

So now its going for hotter! That's right! I have been informed that now when it rains and the sun comes out the humidity is very ,very, very high and its HOT! And trust me, I didn't think it could get much hotter. (spoken like a true Minnesotan!) I am told November is when the "perfect" weather is back! We go through a lot of clothing and laundry soap around here!

And for everyone who has emailed me lately and I have not written back... I am sorry! I am working on catching up! But keep the letters coming!! Its so good to hear news from home.
We went to Tikal in Guatemala. We have another country stamped in our passports. So on this trip we learned of some Hollywood fame. We also had our camera take a little nap, so we don't have any photos of the HUGE ruins. But this place is amazing! We also saw monkeys and many birds. Our tour guide did a great job teaching us a few thins about Mayan history. Worth the long drive to get to!!

Where we stopped for breakfast.

Cool wood floors!
Looking up
The Beer of Guatemala
Hollywood fact #1 (this is you for you Jean and Rich!) Survivor Guatemala took place just over the bluff of this town. Survivor employed many people from about 4 local villages to help cook and clean for all the crew. So this is a paddle form Survivor given to the little restaurant we ate at.A large fresh water lake....strange there are no cabins! You can tell its not MN!

A (small) temple built to please the gods of the heavens or the underworlds. There are 9 head shopping blocks in front of it. Mayan liked blood. The Mayans in this area did not do virgin sacrifices or newborns.... nice to know.... Some of the temples have burial tomb of kings and high powered people under them.
All of the top 2 temples and chopping blocks have been restored, that is why they look so nice.
This one and the one below show (left to right) what it is like when its covered with earth and trees then to its natural state of decay, then to the restored steps and sides
Each covered, original uncovered stones, then the restored.

This is the up view of type of tree the Mayans held sacred. the branches represent the heavens... Lots of floating plants grow in the tree tops.

The roots lead to the underworld.

Hollywood tip #2 is that this is the location that the celebration scene form Return of the Jedi is filmed. Where they are up high looking over the jungle.... way cool!

Other cool facts.... An attractive, upper class Mayan man would have a pointy head (as they would wear things as kids to form them that way), have fancy carved teeth (they are not sure how they did it, but they find the skulls and the teeth are carved into little art works) and they were cross eyed as they would put something in the center of their forehead that would make them that way .

One of the kings was huge giant! He was 5'10 and he towered over people.

Only 20% of the Mayans were upper class. There was little to no middle class. Most of the poor people built the temples. The average life expectancy was 34-35.

The first part of the construction of Tikal is about 5 acres of 30 feet of "concrete" like plates. They would catch every drop of water and it would flow down to the next plate to the next until the water reached the reservoirs. There was NO WATER in Tikal.... it all came from rain and dew. The Mayans were years ahead of the Romans and Greeks in this kind of technology!

There are still Mayans who practice the traditional religion. They were using the ancient stones and left blood on the ruins so the park made them an area they can use in font of their temples.

I wish I had photos of the BIG Temples. You should do a little image search on Tikal!

From the web:

Tikal is among the world's travel wonders, many calling Tikal one of the most spiritually powerful spots on earth. The monumental site with its towering pyramids looms out of the thick jungle canopy like stoic sentinels of ancient mysteries.Tikal was once a wealthy metropolis of 100,000 inhabitants and the seat of power for the great Jaguar clan lords. Today, Tikal attracts archeologists from all around the globe and the wild-live surrounding the ruins makes it a naturalist's dream. Because of its importance and magnificent combination of nature and archaeological remains, Tikal has been declared a Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.The ruins of Tikal include more than 3,000 structures extending over six square miles and including palaces, temples, ceremonial platforms, ball courts, terraces, plazas, avenues and steam baths. The ancient Maya began building Tikal around 600 B.C., and for the next 1500 years the area was an important religious, scientific, and political center.The Tikal National Park is not only home to an ancient Mayan City. Screeching howler monkeys and squawking parrots provide nature's soundtrack to all visitors in the area. From monkeys to white lipped peccary, brocket deer, coati-mundis, toucans, scarlet macaws, parrots, ocelots; even the seldom jaguar can occasionally be spotted. Along with many vegetation spices there is also an abundance of tropical flowers.The charming town of Flores, with its pastel-colored buildings, enjoys a scenic setting on Lake Peten Itza. It is located about half an hour from the entrance of the National Park and serves as a gateway to explore the immediate area.

The Blue Hole National Park

So after a day of horse back riding and tortilla making it was time for a swim. This is a short walk for the entrance of Caves Branch. It is SO AMAZING!! I attached the info from the web after the photos.

The Blue Hole National Park, protected under the National Parks System Act of 1981, was established in December 1986. Located 12 miles southeast of the nation's capital, Belmopan, are the three park entrances. BHNP includes an area of some 575 acres, covered with primary and secondary forest growth. From its northern boundary, the Hummingbird Highway, this rugged karst landscape quickly rises to elevations in excess of 200 meters. Through and under BHNP flow some of the upland tributaries of the Sibun River, one of Belize's principal watercourses. Much of this central area of Belize is limestone of Cretaceous age and includes such karstic features as underground streams, rivers, sinkholes, cenotes and extensive subterranean cave systems. The principal attractions at BHNP are the Blue Hole and St. Herman's Cave.
BLUE HOLEThe Blue Hole is a popular recreational spot where water on its way to the Sibun River emerges from its subterranean journey into the base of a collapsed karst sinkhole. The sink itself is said to be about 100 feet deep and is roughly 300 feet in diameter. The pool, about 25 feet deep, is of a beautiful sapphire color, for which the area is named.
After a short exposed run through luxuriantly covered embankments, the stream disappears once more into a siphon, the top of a large underwater cavern. The domed shape of the opening creates an unusual echo chamber effect. The sparkling water, chilled by a long underground journey, has an invigorating effect and, during the hot, dusty months of summer, the pool is enjoyed by thousands of Belizean and foreign visitors.

Tortilla Lessons

We asked the cooks to give us a tortilla lessons. Caves Branch has the best tortillas we have had so far in Belize! Here are some fun shots form our lesson! When you come, Phil will make some for you!

Hores Back Riding at Banana Bank

Our first trip was Horseback Riding. This was Phil's first time on a horse! (Erika, get the car!!) And it has been years for me. It went very well! We first arrived to what was a field next to the river. You hit the "gong" and then someone comes down the steps you see across the river to bring the boat to you. You get on the boat, they take you across then you go up the steps.
Welcome to Banana Bank. (
That is me!
That is Phil!
We went through the river
Through the tree groves. I cant remember the name of the tree, but they are very valuable and used for boats and etc. They will be mature at 25 years of age. They have many many aches planted of this and they know who and when it will be harvested.
We went threw the jungle! It looked like scenes from King Kong!
Lots of different terrains. This was more like the MN woods.
Leaving the Prairie Grass area going into the woods

Corn and Bean fields After the ride was lunch. Then it was off to wonder to look at the all the "pets"

They have 2 spider monkeys
This is a Jaguar!!
Toucans only look big on the cereal box!
White tail deer in Belize too!
This guy is so little. He lives in a tiny pond about the size of a bird bath. All this and its was almost 100 while we were there!
Next up... tortilla making and the Blue Hole!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Shower

The shower...I love the shower!!

Caves Branch

Hello Everyone! We are back form our little get away. What a wonderful time we had!! So I have a lot to share and a lot of photos so I will try to post them over the next few days as I find time. So lets start at the beginning. We stayed at Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Adventure Co. and Jungle Lodge. ( The first night we stayed in a tree house. The last two nights were in a suite. They even have a bunk house so there is a wide variety of prices.
Here we go:
The truck we useTop of the steps facing the drive way
The Jungle Lodge

The BarThe Dining RoomLunchBeautiful plants everywhere!Its the dry season, the Caves Branch River is dry! Once the rain starts here in the next week, the big wave of water will come!They say someone will try to run ahead of it, like the running of the bulls. The owners will blow a horn and everyone will come to watch it!A tree House tucked in the jungleComing down into our houseFrom the front door is the "living room" that can sleep 4A look up the steps to the king size bedLooking out the screen windows. The birds and bugs make noise all night. No AC, just fans. It was so nice!The bathroom. Toilet on the other side of this wallA tree growing threw the large showerThis is leaving the sitting room and looking at the outdoor showerThe water fills the bucket that has holes in the bottom. They have cold water and "warm". No waters like back at home. I believe the sun heats the water. It was HOT!Beautiful viewNight 2 and 3 were here in the Suite 8. Very in the jungleFrom the front door looking back to the bedroom. That is the door to the bathroom. It has indoor pluming...shower, sink etc.The front sitting roomThe bed roomLooking forward. Notice the bathroom wall is all open air. The only electricity in this room was for the big ceiling fan. So there are oil laps to light the room. They are remodeling the rooms this summer.

Its about an hour drive to Caves Branch for our place in Hopkins. SO its a great little get away and a great place to put on you list to stay if you are looking for GREAT ADVENTURES Day trips!

So that is posting 1 of our adventures. To come will be Horseback riding, tortilla making, Guatemala and Tikal the Mayan Ruins.